Parking: Do We Have A Supply or Management Problem?

China’s issues prevalent to Auckland


With the usual round of teeth gnashing after Auckland Transport hiked its City Centre parking fees towards $63/day (during the week) the question needs to be asked: Do we have a Parking supply or management problem?


It is certainly not a supply problem as parking, cars and City Centres do not usually go well together especially if you want an 8-80 people’s city. So we turn to parking demand management which Auckland Transport already does. I believe AT have an 85% threshold for which if parking occupancy in the City Centre area go above 85% full for a sustained period of time the parking prices go up (opposite if below 85% for a sustained period of time). With parking occupancy levels at the 95% mark for the City Centre it was only time before AT were due to hike prices.


China has similar issues with parking as it tries to get their cities transit thus people friendly. China like us with our Unitary Plan is looking at both supply through planning rules and demand through price to help with their parking situation.

From Reinventing Parking:

Parking success without parking excess

What is parking success?

A recent trip to China reminded me of this question, which is important for cities everywhere.

Shortage problem or management problem?

China’s cities have serious parking problems and most of them blame shortage.

Rapid increases in urban car ownership since the year 2000 has left many streets and residential areas with parking chaos, especially in older parts of town. Convenient parking is very often more than 100% full, causing search traffic and illegal parking on streets, on sidewalks and on public spaces. These in turn cause congestion, danger, and interpersonal conflict.

Many Chinese cities have concluded they have a huge gap between parking supply and parking needs. Simply counting their legal parking spaces and comparing this city-wide number with the registered vehicles reveals the gap.

This is despite the fact that more detailed local studies often find that off-street (especially underground) parking is under-used and that commercial areas with parking problems typically have no such parking supply-demand gap.

Weak management of on-street parking, sidewalk parking and parking in building frontages means that motorists have little incentive to seek out the less convenient underground option, which often also costs them more.

China’s cities push for more parking

If shortage is the diagnosis, then supply seems the obvious medicine.

So around China, various city governments are planning boosts to parking supply, especially by:

  • Revising their parking minimums upwards (from their currently relatively low levels), and
  • Investing directly in city-built parking, despite the daunting costs.

But many cities in China are also pushing to be ‘transit metropolises’


Seeing plentiful parking as the definition of parking success is therefore a problem. This parking goal is in direct conflict with China’s new urban transport policy priorities.

Urgent need for parking policies that succeed without promoting car dependence

Chinese cities do need to ease their very real parking problems which are making so many places unpleasant and unsafe.

But the solutions must not fuel car dependence. China needs parking success without parking excess.

And there are some signs of change. Shenzhen has introduced on-street parking fees after a hiatus. Rather steep fees in fact. Shenzhen has also lowered its parking minimums for buildings near mass transit. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has also been liberalizing parking prices (many of which used to be controlled by local governments).

Do you too want parking success without excess? Then Reinventing Parking is for you.


Adaptive Parking is a path towards parking success without parking excess.




What Auckland Transport is doing with the City Centre is on the right path using price to control on-street parking demand. What Auckland Transport is still catching up with however, is making sure mass transit and within the City Centre is efficient enough to provide disincentive in parking in the City Centre in the first place (convenience).

For me if I am going to the City Centre I will always catch the train. The trip is more pleasant and I do not need to worry about the cost of parking nor the risks of the Southern Motorway jamming up (as it does near daily). But I have the advantage of the Southern Line being five minutes away from where I live. People do not have that advantage of the rail network nor the Northern Busway which shows Auckland has a long way to go yet before mass transit becomes first choice.


One thought on “Parking: Do We Have A Supply or Management Problem?

  1. They really don’t justify these hikes at all! Last go round saw fees at Westhaven go from $12 to $24 for 24 hrs. That’s right, they doubled!! This to park in a public parking area that has no public transport service and relies on patronage solely from the charter fishing fleet and it’s customers. They don’t seem to care how much they are hurting the businesses in the area and provide no alternative.

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