Pay parking improvements slow in Canberra after Auditor-General’s report

September 11, 2014 – 11:30PM

Tom McIlroy



More than a year after a damning Auditor-General’s report found the ACT government was failing in its administration of car parking in Canberra, just three of 12 recommendations have been fully implemented.

As an expert review of pricing gets under way, the government has flagged the possible use of licence plate recognition cameras as part of parking enforcement efforts in Canberra’s residential timed parking areas.

The review by transport consultants MRCagney will consider removing minimum parking requirements, developing and selling parking facilities and other improvements, including links between public transport and demand for parking.

Officials in the Environment and Planning directorate will prioritise short stay areas as part of a new strategy, set for public comment in early 2015.

Auditor-General Maxine Cooper used a May 2013 report to outline failures in almost every aspect car parking management, with faulty machines and outdated technology costing the territory at least $1 million a year in lost revenue.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said this week progress on implementation of the nine remaining recommendations was “well under way” and officials were working to ensure new parking arrangements were lawful, efficient and accountable.

Releasing an update on the government’s response to the report, Mr Gentleman said a new parking co-ordinator had been appointed within the Environment and Planning directorate and the government was assisting the National Capital Authority with the rollout of paid parking in the parliamentary triangle, due to begin next month.

“The government is currently considering policy options around pricing, offsets, supply and operations ahead of the release of a draft strategy for public comment in 2015,” Mr Gentleman said.

Parking fee increases will continue to take place at the start of each new financial year and the transport pricing strategy will be considered by the government before the end of 2014.

Dr Cooper found the government had not produced proper documentation to justify regular increases in parking fees and an urgent acceleration in upgrades to smart-meter technology was needed.

Her review said the Justice and Community Services directorate logged 13,416 complaints about faulty parking machines in 2011-12, or an average of 36 each day.

More than 10,000 repairs were made to parking machines in one year as the devices buckled under the volume of coins needed to keep up with increases in fees. The introduction of smart-meter technology was found to have been delayed by the fragmented management of the city’s parking system, in which officials and departments did not communicate effectively and no one knew who was in charge.

Dr Cooper said actual revenue from parking operations had “consistently fallen short” of budget predictions and in the three years to 2011-12 was $8.5 million less than the $70.7 million forecast.

The report also found the number of disabled parking spaces in the ACT might not meet national standards and that the number of disabled parking permits issued in the territory was double the number of Canberrans who identified in census data as having a disability.

A Justice and Community Safety directorate review on the allocation of disability permits found the ACT had a lower rate of permit issue than the other jurisdictions and has reminded medical practitioners of their role in certifying applications for disability permits.

As the final 18 pay parking machines are installed around the Hyatt Hotel precinct, management has been improved through a centralised system with live data on whether the machines are working, and more timely response to faults.

A tender process is under way to replace more than 900 on-street parking meters around Canberra and changes to inspector patrols are planned.

Source : The Canberra Times

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