Station car park management

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?

Bentleigh station car park, evening during lockdown

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.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

14 replies on “Station car park management”

It really shouldn’t be difficult to have car park users touch on with a Myki card when entering and exiting a car park. A 2-hour or all-day Zone 1 or 2 fare for parking in the car park would be a fair outcome in most suburban car parks.

Definitely too many cars per apartment than available in building parking spaces. It is happening everywhere as authorities idealistically try to reduce apartment car parking spaces to discourage the use of cars. It ain’t happening.

The technology already exists; number plate recognition, a Myki to enter and exit the car park via booms and the Myki has to be used in between the enter and exit at the station reader and a touch off at another station. There will be ways to cheat the system, but not many would bother. What would be the point of expenditure without any extra revenue to the government? Reducing the need for the provision of more car parking spaces.

In the early afternoon I was surprised how empty the Deer Park Station car park was last week.

@ Ross The allocation/grant will come will likely come with a condition that a myki enabled barrier not be installed.

The young women dressed in gym gear walking from their cars in the Moorabbin railway carpark at 6:30am toward the adjacent gym are not going directly to public transport (probably not even after they have finished their workout). It is not policed so why would they care they are taking away a spot for a commuter who is wanting to park at that time?

Totally agree that there should be some monitoring of railway station car parking – at Heidelberg car park is full early – probably a lot of Austin/Mercy hospital staff from their 7am shift changes.

Definitely agree. There certainly was talk of using myki to enter and leave a station car park but it was never implemented.

I’m all for this being policed, and I always like to look at things from the opposing side as well to understand it. A resource that is used 24 hours is a day is better value for money than a resource that is being used only 10 hours a day. Therefore, should it be that these car parks can be used, for example, as an overnight car parking space? Perhaps a happy medium is a boom gate activated with a myki card. Would keep most people happy I’d say.

I’m against trying to ensure that public transport users occupy the car spaces, management should be by pricing – charge the market rate and let the free market decide who uses the spaces. The income should be used to improve the transport system.

The challenge with using any type of barrier to control access to and from a car park is the requirement for an exclusive driveway long enough to safely manage queues of vehicles entering and exiting the carpark.

Many people living in units especially renters use their garage for storage and park on the street (or any nearby car park). Developers meet minimum requirements for parking when units are submitted for approval so rarely have visitor spaces. Boom gates with Miki or Opal sounds like a good idea, there’s probably plenty of people shopping locally that also use commuter car parks.

Agreed that they should prioritise public transport users, but I also think we should plan these station-adjacent parking as a temporary measure, and in conjunction with several different measures. Including:
– Proper feeder buses that actually wait for trains – and specifically state that buses are required to meet trains and penalize operators and drivers who don’t do this.
– Reusing the land in question for other uses once it becomes more viable. Such as extra tracks and platforms, bus bays, or even an integrated station & building. Just give everyone a 1-2 month’s notice when doing this.
– Work with Vicroads etc to expand cycling lanes and some much needed tram routes across Melbourne and remove, replace, and relocate nearby on-street parking to the carpark. And charge fees for non-PT users like Sydney does.

There are several “rail commuter” car parks near me that are simply signposted parking bays on the street, parallel or 90°. These include ones at Aspendale and new ones currently being constructed at Edithvale. So a simple boom gate solution is not going to be enough. One solution would be to have a ticket vending machine operated by myki, where you leave the ticket on your dashboard. Any solution using an app would fail on the non-realtime posting of touch-ons to the myki database.

Pricing it, however, will just cause people to park in the surrounding side streets. This is already a significant problem in Edithvale and many other suburbs. The council can institute 2hr or 4hr zones, but residents don’t like that either because then they can’t have all-day visitors park outside their own houses, and so Kingston Council at least does it as a last resort after consulting with the residents.

Arguably there should be *no* parking at Edithvale except for bicycles and disabled spaces. All of Edithvale itself is within walking distance of either Edithvale, Aspendale or Chelsea Stations. Aspendale Gardens is mostly closer to Aspendale, but ideal cycling distance to either Aspendale or Edithvale, and with off-street cycling access to the vibrant Mordialloc activity centre and station. Probably most of those cars cluttering up our streets are from places like Keysborough, which should be directed to a purpose-built park-and-ride on lower-value land on the Dandenong line. It’s ridiculous to be using desirable land 100m from the beach to park the cars of people who have no actual interest in being in that place, but are on the way to somewhere else. Even parking for beach access would be a higher use.

People parking on the street because they’ve repurposed their garage to a “no-car garage” is a general problem worth solving. There’s a block of 47 apartments near me which must have changed their Owners Corporation bye-laws to forbid residents parking in front of their garages, because suddenly we found the street is full of parked cars when people are at home. It causes significant delays to everyone else who lives in the street. It’s like having a 200m single-lane bridge to get to your house.

This reminds me that I should get around to reading David Shoup’s “The High Cost of Free Parking”.

@Ross, I agree – simply including the car parking in the PT fare should be completely non-controversial.

@Andrew, I don’t think authorities (at least in this location) have actually tried to reduce parking. If you say to developers you can cut parking, but you turn a blind eye to residents using the station car park, you’re not really trying.

@Roger, if people use station parking for a gym class, especially early in the morning, does it really matter – provided they drive away afterwards?

@Koko, unfortunately the Vic govt has shown no signs that they are willing to charge for station parking.

@Hisashi, if feeder buses are frequent, they don’t need to wait for trains. Becomes a lot easier operationally, and means other connections along the route aren’t affected by train delays on one line.

@Francis E, yeah true, not every station car park space is in a dedicated area. Most are though.

Shoup’s book is also on my list of things to read!

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