No benefit in city parking levy rise

The Perth Parking Levy will rise by another three per cent from July 1, despite millions of dollars remaining unspent from the last price hike, Shadow Transport Minister Ken Travers said today.

A spokesman for the Bicycle Transport Alliance said it had been campaigning for years to get a small percentage of the parking levy spent on cycling infrastructure in the central business district and on cycle paths leading into the city centre.

In 2009, the BTA had asked former transport minister Simon O’Brien in 2009 how much of the parking levy rise that year had been spent on infrastructure for cyclists to encourage more commuters to ride bikes – called active transport – and reduce motor vehicle and public transport congestion. Mr O’Brien had replied that the revenue raised was used towards infrastructure, CAT buses, enhancing pedestrian and bicycle access and a balanced transport system. The BTA asked for further details but still had not got an answer two years later.

Mr Travers said today the levy, paid by motorists who park in the central business district, had already skyrocketed by a massive 200 per cent, and without the latest rise, was expected to rake in a surplus of $65 million over the next four years for Barnett Government coffers.

“The documents tabled in Parliament yesterday reveal that from July, the cost of the parking levy will increase from $598.30 to $616.30 per year,” he said.

“This is on top of the price hikes Perth motorists have already suffered, resulting in a $21.7million unallocated slush fund at the end of June last year.

“This is a grubby tax grab that is nothing more than a revenue raiser for the Barnett Government.”

Mr Travers said the Barnett Government had failed to reveal where the $87 million in surplus funds raised by the Parking Levy would be spent.

“Under the Perth Parking Management Act, parking revenue must be specifically allocated to improving transport in the Perth CBD,” he said.

“Given the severe congestion on our roads and overcrowding on our buses, this money could be spent on improving public transport in the city centre and providing better cycling facilities.

“It is inexcusable to raise the cost of parking by such an extraordinary amount without explaining to the public how the extra money will be spent or providing any extra city public transport.

“Perth motorists are clearly being slugged to pay for the Barnett Government’s out of control spending and financial mismanagement.

“While this money sits unspent in the Government’s bank account waiting to be allocated, it hides the true state of the Barnett Government’s uncontrolled growth in State debt, which will leave a massive mortgage for our children to pay off.”

The BTA spokesman said that in the letter to Mr O’Brien in 2009 it suggested that 15 per cent of the additional revenue raised by the parking levy increase that year was spent to provide better facilities for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists in the area where the levy applied and a further 10 per cent was spent to make the CBD easier to reach by public and active transport.

It said that motorised traffic would always grow to fill available road space and adding extra lanes to freeways was only an expensive temporary solution. “Currently cycle movements over the Narrows are about 1.15 per cent of car movements. If the higher car parking costs would convert a modest 10 per cent of the 4,225,000 monthly car movements over the Narrows to cycle movements or to public transport, the need for additional lanes would be alleviated.

There were no east-west cycleways in the business district between Riverside Drive and Roe Street and none north-south from George Street to Victoria Avenue.  The Riverside Drive path would be broken when the $400 million foreshore development began in October and the Roe Street one would disappear when the train line was sunk.

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