Tuesday 28 August 2012

Car park news

I love a good car park story, here's one from the BBC:

An average of just 10 motorists a day are using a £1.3m car park built near Bristol, a council has admitted. The facility, intended as a park-and-ride, opened in June 2011 but will not get a bus service until 2015.

South Gloucestershire Council said it was used by only 139 motorists in its first three months and raised £13,899.74 in revenue last year. The council said it wanted to make local firms more aware of the Stoke Gifford car park, which has 200 spaces... The nearest public transport is Bristol Parkway railway station, which is about five minutes walk away.

I don't see how you can fault the council for this one.

1. If they get the car park full five days a week and half days at weekends, then based on their daily charges listed here, that would be income of nearly £300,000 a year, which is not a bad return on the £1.3 million they spent on tarmac. The site appears to be about two acres, so if the council had built (say) thirty homes on it, it would have to rent them out for at least £10,000 a year each to make the same money (far higher costs, hassle and stress from NIMBYs and tenants). So it's hardly the stupidest decision a council has ever taken.

2. Demand for the car park might not materialise overnight, word has to spread round and people have to adjust, maybe a few people who find taking the bus to the station a bit awkward will take the car in future, for example.

3. And so what if the car park was finished three years before the dedicated bus service? The problem there is lack of bus service, not surplus of car park.

4. If they hadn't built the car park, were they just supposed to leave the land derelict for three years? If the worst comes to the worst, they can always rip up the tarmac and build something else.

5. I'll mark them down for only allowing payment by debit/credit card or mobile phone (wot?) and not accepting good old fashioned cash, and maybe their charges are a little too high, but that's details.

6. Personally, I'd bung in a proper old fashioned car park attendant to sit in a little booth collecting your money on the way in; have a van selling tea and coffee during the rush hour, set up some skateboard/BMX ramps at the far end, encourage the local car enthusiast club to hold their rallies there on a weekend, get a bit of community spirit going etc. That's just more details.


JohnM said...

Mobile Phone payments are fairly new but here's an example. That one works in Newcastle and I've seen competitors in different cities.

It's a good solution for (a) having no change (b) avoiding queuing up for the payment machine (c) wanting to extend the stay without returning to the car park.

JohnM said...

Mobile Payments

Here's an example

[Blogger reported error on first submission. Apols if this is duplicate]

Mark Wadsworth said...

JM, I'm sure it's brilliant once you are used to it (like all this internet based stuff).

But it's not much help if you aren't. I have done a brief survey of my most tech savvy colleague and he says no, he's never done a mobile phone payment. So surely a sensible car park operator would offer a 'cash alternative' for the time being?

SadButMadLad said...

"4. If they hadn't built the car park, were they just supposed to leave the land derelict for three years? "

Yes. It doesn't cost anything to have land doing nothing if it's got nothing on it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

SBML, it costs nothing apart from getting rid of squatters, fly tipping, burned out cars etc. They have to build something there sooner or later, and once the bus service etc is up and running, there'll be plenty of demand for that car park.

Is it not better to develop it three years too early rather than three years too late? If you ask me, it's the bus service which is three years too late and the car park was actually bang on time.

Bayard said...

Also, it's going to be a damn sight cheaper to build the car park now than it would be in three years' time, plus they have an, albeit small, revenue stream that they wouldn't otherwise have.

Sounds to me like they are charging too much: with Bristol Parkway station only five minutes walk away, they only need charge a bit less than the railways and business would be booming. OTOH, they probably don't really care, because it's not their money.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, exactly. I suspect, from this distance, that their charges are too high, why not do a bit of predatory pricing and make it free for a few months, then bump it up to £1 and so on. Nobody can complain about free parking, can they?

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX The nearest public transport is Bristol Parkway railway station, which is about five minutes walk away.XX

So, for a five minute walk, they want a bus, at how much THAT may cost.

Lazy bastards.