Tweeter @suitonbike writes that parking fees at suburban stations are way too cheap

A reader sent this to us. A tweeter by the name of @suitonbike writes that rail fares may be too high but parking at suburban stations is way too cheap. At the time of writing, the current annual fee is £970 at Haslemere station.

Do you agree?




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4 Responses to Tweeter @suitonbike writes that parking fees at suburban stations are way too cheap

  1. grayswoodcommuter says:

    So all on road parking is evil, but station parking is too cheap. Total contradiction, if station parking was available and good value it would be used.

  2. ShowOfHands says:

    Parking fees are an effective tool to change people’s behaviour.

    An increase in parking fees could act as a lever to get people out of their cars to encourage people onto public transport, park and ride etc., etc. To date there’s been no vision by SCC to encourage cars off the road by investing in alternatives. In fact, there’s been no vision from SCC. Full stop.

    I have neighbours who commute from Haslemere by train. One is a nurse, one a personal assistant, another is a teacher and one works in the settlements team of a bank. They have all seen a massive decrease in their take home pay in the past 3/4 years. Don’t kick them when they’re already down by ramping up parking fees too.

    @suitonbike’s bio says he’s a Partner in the London office of Big 4 accounting firm. He’s well qualified to do the maths that an increase in parking fees for him would have very little impact on his take home pay compared to a Settlements clerk earning £25,000 a year.

  3. Paul M says:

    Showofhands is right to say that parking fees are an effective tool to change people’s behaviour. Indeed, it is arguable that this is *all* they should be. Local authorities should not, as often suspected, but generally misunderstood, be used to raise general revenue as an alternative to council taxes. In fact, on-street parking revenues are strictly ring-fenced to be used to fund parking control and then any surplus must be used on transport projects.

    SWT of course is a different story – they are entirely at liberty to make a profit on station parking charges, and it is evident that they have done so, by increasing those parking charges at a far faster rate than they have so far increased rail fares, which are largely controlled. However, the annual charge at Haslemere is less than £4 a day, and it is quite clear that there are plenty of people who are willing to join a waiting list several years long to get a space, and when they finally get one, they hang onto it even when they use it not very much – note the posts earlier in the summer about the number of empty spaces which could have been used by casual travellers, but which presumably have been pre-sold to commuters. Note also that anyone who arrives by about 8am will, under present on-street arrangements, find a free space in the Weydown Road car park at a cost of £4 on the day, or about £2.50 a day if an annual season ticket is purchased from Waverley (I am guessing here based on what I once paid for an annual ticket for Farncombe, cf the then daily rate)

    Whether parking is cheap or expensive in a particular location has to be considered in terms of the alternative land uses for that area. The daily charge at Gatwick airport for the short-stay might thus seem fair enough at £30 if the alternative was to develop a shopping mall in their place, or the daily charges of £25 or so for NCP in Central London ditto. You also have to consider the return on capital employed – if we want more station parking so that commuters don’t end up parked in front of a resident’s house so resident can’t park near his own home, we are talking about a major construction project which would have to be financed.

    Showofhands is also absolutely right to pillory SCC for its lack of vision or imagination on alternative transport options, but he might extend that to Waverley as well – it is after all Waverley which owns and operates the off-street parking while SCC is the authority for the highways and so the on-street parking. Here you get a chicken/egg situation – over the decades, the expansion of private car use has gradually throttled the bus network, in a vicious cycle that sees more cars breed less buses which puts more pressure on people, especially the poor, to buy and run cars which they can ill afford because alternatives have dried up. It doesn’t help that national government policy (both Labour and conservative) has led to a real-terms fall in motoring costs while public transport costs more in real terms – a 35% cost-terms increase in motoring, 65% in rail and 200% in buses over the last 15 years.

    If SCC were to charge for on-street parking and use the funds raised to improve rural bus services, or indeed create a park’n’ride like the one Guildford has at Artington, or make cycling more attractive than it is at the moment on our race-track local roads, they would certainly have my support. SWT could also do more – the cycle parking at Haslemere is almost at capacity (and like anything else, full capacity is not achieveable), and a significant expansion would almost certainly be occupied fairly quickly, as was seen with the new racks at Waterloo. They could also provide a lot more space for motorbikes and scooters – after all, by no means everyone has the physical capacity to walk or cycle to the station, or lives close enough for walking or cycling to be viable, but a little Vespa would be a good solution for many more people.

    Finally, Showofhands doesn’t say where (s)he lives, so I can’t comment on whether his/her neighbours actually need to drive to the station, but I do know for a fact, from regular observation, that there are a great many people who live within a mile of the station who nevertheless drive there. Some park in the carparks and pay for the privilege, others park on-street to the evident irritation of the people who struggle to park outside their own houses on those streets. As to those neighbours’ financial situations, I can well imagine – my income is down by 25% in the last 3 years – but through no fault of their own the car economy has in effect compelled them to seek employment further and further afield, simply because it is possible to travel further, it has happened.

  4. grayswoodcommuter says:

    The weydown car park charges 860 pounds for a season ticket. Further, this is limited to one registered car. Very bad value and expense most need to avoid to pay for school shoes.
    The percentage of houses in Haslemere near the station that don’t have their own driveway is very low, and so the effect of on street parking is exaggerated by many.
    That said I would agree that a Vespa does sound like a good idea for those up to a few miles away, I wonder, do SWT charge for motor bike or moped parking?
    The station will never get any better because SWT has shareholders who want a return, something Virgin Trains has done so much better at as they at least seek customer satisfaction. SWT will only invest if they can generate a return from something, or if they are forced to. Any local and national government has always run scared of telling train operators anything they don’t want to hear.

    Arguably re surfacing Wey hill and introducing charges should be welcomed, the only reason it is not is rather than trusting it to be run at cost or for small profit to support local public transport, it will start at five or more pounds a day and escalate thereafter. It is a question of trust really.

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