Thursday, November 10, 2005

North Shore Busway includes free parking

Last Sunday the new busway opened from the North Shore to Auckland City. Included are 700 FREE car parks for public transport commuters. No doubt the car parks are surrounded by hi-tech surveillance so any theft or damage to cars will be recorded and, hopefully, prevented. It's the only way people will leave their cars all day parked, secure in the knowledge they will be able to use them at the end of the day. This principle of secure parking is also prevalent in all car parking in town, even if you have to pay for it.
Compare this to the situation at Matiatia: what do you actually get for your $6 a day? Will the Council, as landlord, be held responsible for any damage to, petrol siphoning from or theft of your car? If not, why not? Does the $6 not go to insurance against damage claims? Why are North Shore commuters more deserving than Waiheke ones in this respect? Is it because they have us by the short-and-curlies by forcing us to park there as we have no alternative in driving into town like the Shorians have?

My issue isn't so much with parking that has to be paid for by the users or by the whole community (in case free parking is offered) but one of fairness:
1. The half of the Matiatia car park, which used to be free, has always been in Council ownership. So the new charges are actually used to finance the purchase of a block of land that is only partly used (and was already charged for) as carparking.
2. The reason why free parking is offered on the mainland is because people will add the price of parking there to actually driving to town and not having the bother of worrying about safety or bus and train timetables. Since islanders are a captive audience, and perceived as rich, they are expected to pay whatever monopoly price is charged by either the council for parking, Fullers for the ferry service and the ARC for usage of the wharves.

I'm all for bribing people out of their cars and into public transport by subsidies and freebies, to lessen the road congestion. But they should be evenly and equitably spread out.
At the moment Auckland expects Waiheke Islanders to pay for everything: no subsidies for our ferry service; market price for ferry car parking; a wharf tax that covers the cost of maintaining the whole wharf system on the Waitemata and payment of ARC rates that subsidises Auckland public transport we have only marginal access to (BTW why is it that a Link bus trip costs one third of the fare charged by the Waiheke Bus Company for the same distance travelled?).
So, in all, I think you mainlanders get a great deal out of us, so please give us a break.
Here's a deal: we let you pay the wharf charges in return for the island free ownership of the Matiatia land. A win-win situation for everybody!