An apparently obvious way of dealing with traffic congestion in a city such as Melbourne is to drive your car to the nearest train station and catch the train to your destination. It is a great theory but the hitch is that parking places near train stations are becoming exhausted and the cost of constructing extra parking spots is high – around $17,000 per spot according to this Age article. That is the cost of getting just one traveller off the road and using public transport.
The solution is to price the parking spots so there is never any search time at a station site – this means hefty parking charges. Indeed according to parking expert Donald Shoup the ideal is to have 15% of parking spots free at any time in any location to prevent wasteful searches. Melbourne has the second highest fraction of its lands allocated to parking of any of the world’s cities – it is just eclipsed by Los Angeles. This is a wasteful use of land that imposes huge community cost.
I agree with Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen - bus service upgrades should be a priority which will encourage people to switch toward bus rather than train services alone. It is often easier to walk to the local bus stop and even ‘park and ride’ solutions for bus travel and less likely to lead to the excess parking demands that occur at train stations.
Congestion issues are not straightforward to resolve. Parking issues need to be resolved if traffic congestion issues are to be sensibly addressed.