While the debate about new and expanded station car parks continues to rage, I wonder if authorities are properly managing the ones they have?
The whole reason for politicians wanting to expand station car parks is that in normal times, they are full.
But are they full of train users? How can one tell?
This photo was taken at 8:43pm on 2nd June 2021, during the 4th Melbourne lockdown, at my local station at Bentleigh. A walk through the car park showed 21 cars parked there.
Noting most of them were parked well away from the station entrance, it’s a fair bet that none of these cars were parked so the owners could catch public transport.
I would anticipate that most of them are owned by residents in the adjacent apartment blocks. Do they use their own parking spaces for other storage? Can they just not be bothered with the underground parking? Do they have too many cars for the spaces they own?
Is it a problem? Not at the moment when many people aren’t using the trains. And not even in normal times if they all get driven elsewhere during commuting times when demand for spaces is high.
But if some cars are sitting there 24/7, that will be a problem once demand increases again.
Some spots such as Camberwell are notorious for non-public transport users parking in the station car park. Years ago there was talk of a crackdown, and even legislation to enable it, but nothing seemed to come of it.
More recently, after doing consultation, Glen Eira council has decided to start a feasibility study to expand car parks at Bentleigh and Elsternwick using that contentious Federal money, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per additional space.
The recent report from the Senate inquiry into the Urban Congestion Fund (which included the car parks) noted the doubtful outcomes of more parking versus other methods to get people to stations – especially in inner and middle suburbs like this.
Given the huge cost and impacts of expanding car parks, I would contend that before they build more parking, authorities should effectively manage the spaces they have.