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Two-hour free parking in Hamilton’s central city may be replaced by a new demand-responsive pricing model as Hamilton City Council looks for opportunities to increase revenue as part of its proposed 2024-2034 Long-Term Plan.

Two-hour free parking in Hamilton’s central city may be replaced by a new demand-responsive pricing model as Hamilton City Council looks for opportunities to increase revenue as part of its proposed 2024-2034 Long-Term Plan.

The proposed 2024-2034 Long-Term Plan budget, which will be considered by Council at its Extraordinary Council Meeting next Tuesday 28 November and Wednesday 29 November, includes a proposal to introduce demand-responsive pricing to replace its two-hour free parking trial in the central city.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said different options for central city parking are being considered as part of discussions about revenue, encouraging the public to have their say during the wider Long-Term Plan consultation period in March and April next year.

“Elected members must consider all sources of revenue. We have put forward a user-pays parking system in the central city for consideration. Free parking has cost the city up to $800,000 lost revenue annually since the trial began. Of course, free parking is not truly free, it is subsidised by the ratepayer. We're keen to hear from the community on this,” she said.

Hamilton City Council City Transport Unit Director Gordon Naidoo says that while a shift to demand-responsive pricing for parking would produce additional revenue, the true benefit of the proposed change would be better management of parking use in the central city.

“The ideal occupancy rate for parking is 85% as it means there are enough people spending time in the area to ensure its vibrancy, but it is not so busy that drivers avoid the area as they can’t find a carpark. What we have found with the two-hour free parking trial, as well as the all-day parking scheme, is these have led to occupancy rates of more than 85% in many areas, making it difficult for the public to find available parks and causing low parking turnover,” he said.

“The proposed demand-responsive pricing for parking would help ensure more frequent turnover in high-demand areas by setting parking fees at levels that increase and decrease based on demand. This approach aims to help improve parking availability for the public to support business productivity and supports the broader strategic goals of creating a more liveable and sustainable urban environment.”

Under the proposed 2024-2034 budget, the initial price-point for the demand-responsive parking model would be $3 per hour for the first two hours and $6 per hour thereafter where parking spaces generally have greater than 85% occupancy, and $1 per hour for the first two hours and $6 per hour thereafter where parking spaces generally have less than 85% occupancy.

The proposed budget also includes the introduction of demand-responsive pricing for all day paid parking, which would enable increasing prices from $6 to $12 to achieve 85% occupancy rates.

It is estimated that $5.14 million in parking revenue would be generated in year 1 of the draft 2024-34 Long Term Plan if the changes go ahead.

If new demand-responsive pricing for parking is adopted, the two-hour free parking trial in the central city and the central city rate would end on 30 June 2024. The two-hour free parking in central Hamilton was first introduced as in October 2017 as a nine-month trial and has been reviewed and extended several times since.

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