The BBC reports that UK train commuters are up in arms about the train companies raising parking prices at stations to - you are not going to believe this - make more profit! (gasp)
I have more than once mentioned my distaste for city councils using parking enforcement as a revenue grab, but I don't think the same rules apply to private companies. Aren't they in business to make a profit?
One BBC article states, "The RAC Foundation believes that train operators are putting up car parking charges as a sneaky way of increasing their profits." I object to the word "sneaky". They raised the prices for everyone to see. There is nothing sneaky about it. RAC's objection is that the price of train tickets are controlled and parking charges are not, so the train companies are surreptitiously using parking to make profits they are not supposed to be making. Not true. If the UK government did not want them to make a profit on parking, they would regulate that cost as well. RAC suggests parking charges should be capped as well, and that may happen some day. In the meantime, train companies like Southern Railways are free to charge parking fees based on what the market will bear.
My recommendation to the commuters is: if you don't like it, don't park your car there. You can even stop taking the train altogether. If enough people stop, the train company will get the message. But, on the other hand, if you stop parking there but everyone else keeps paying the new rate, well then the market has spoken.
This story out of the UK tells the tale. A very successful firm in Cambridge, a city of 120,000 north of London, asked for approval to turn a concrete slab in the lot next to it into a parking facility for its employees. The slab had been there since the Second World War and seemingly had no other useful purpose. They were told "no."
Seems the local greens don't want people driving into the city, and this is a way to keep them out. Yep – It seems it's going to do that, in spades.
The high tech company which makes specialized software has attempted to talk its staff into cycling but as the CEO put it:
"The council is not at all helpful when it comes to parking. We have done everything we can to encourage people to cycle, but it is so expensive to live in Cambridge that many of them have to come in by car, but the council will not do us any favours."
As reader Charles pointed out "I do not know anything about the tax structure in the UK, but I am sure that losing the expansion of a business like this is keeping a ton of tax revenue out of the General Fund ..."
I know that this little move will cost Cambridge and the UK a lot of money, not only in rates (property taxes) but also in income tax, sales tax, and the like.
Frankly, I sort of like the idea of charging for parking and allowing the market to run its course. But I'm not sure that in the face of the current economic climate, social engineering like this is the way to go.
Everyone knows that local authorities are evil money grabbing B******* who only operate parking to screw money out of the poor motorist and issue dodgy parking tickets regardless of whether or not the rules have been broken. Well not in Adur in West Sussex it would seem. The Council has realised that due to an administrative oversight the regulations for one of their car parks had never been properly made and all the charges and fines since October 2008 were invalid.
Did we have a Council representative spouting platitudes about “it didn’t really matter” and “the public got what they paid for”? No, they bagged the machines until they can get a legal order in place, they undertook to repay all the fines collected during the period and offered to refund the parking charge to anyone who could produce their parking ticket.
Now realistically not many people will have kept their old parking tickets, so that’s a good gesture, but only likely to affect those who parked there recently. But all in all well done, Adur, both for coming clean and then for not shilly-shallying about putting it right.
In a recent poll of UK drivers, The AA found that by far the most popular New Years resolution among AA members was trying to park legally more often, at 70% of respondents surveyed. At 75%, women were most anxious to dodge parking fines, compared to 68% for men.
"Too many councils are banking on extra revenue from raising parking fine levels – in London they want to charge £130," says AA President Edmund King. "They may be sorely disappointed: high fuel prices and austere times mean fewer trips to the shops and less pressure on parking spaces."
"There is no justification for increasing parking penalties as compliance at current levels has improved," he adds. "Yet many local authorities are now introducing parking charges on Sundays, extending parking charges until 10pm and hiking up the price of residents' parking permits."
The AA says councils who are banking on filling budget deficits with parking fine cash could be in for a shock. Could this reduce the production of this cash cow?
I guess we have to wait and see how many UK drivers keep their New Years resolutions.
Studies like the one mentioned in this article are great, but don't they really confirm what we already know. If parking is free, people will abuse it and if you have to pay, they are less likely to do so.
In this case, folks in New Zealand surveyed an on street parking area. In places where there is a time limit for parking (two hours free) there were few if any open spaces and local employees parked there and moved their cars every couple of hours. In areas where there was a time charge (say 50 cents an hour), this did not occur and there were a few open spaces so customers could easily find places to park.
I know it seems obvious on its face, but remember that you are dealing with local governments here. The use of logic is often wasted on elected officials. However a nice expensive study done by "experts" that can be put in a file and blamed when all hell breaks loose is much better.
I guess that makes sense. We have to keep the government money consuming machine going.