Federal Budget 2019 – A good budget for commuters but we need to make it count

April 4, 2019

UbiPark commends the government for investing an additional $3 billion to tackle urban congestion in their recently released Federal Budget 2019. The additional $500 million for commuter train station parking will certainly be music to commuter’s ears who find parking at train stations full by 7 am.

However, we need to make sure we target the right stations and areas to ensure we are meeting demand. We can only do this by collecting data on current supply and demand, through things like car parking sensors, parking access technologies, as well as mapping current available parking and utilisation rates. As such, we believe some of the funds must be used to bring our current parking technology into the new digital age.

Parking technology has changed very little over the last decade, as we take a build, set and forget approach. We still rely on outdated ticket machines, which do not provide much insight into parking use, as well as being expensive to buy, maintain and replace.

If we continue to invest in old parking hardware, rather than taking advantage of smart digital parking technologies, we will see millions of taxpayer funds wasted while still providing a sub-optimal parking experience and limited insight into utilisation to help make smarter decisions.

We need the Government to take a modern approach to parking. Forward-thinking councils, such as the City of Melbourne, are taking the lead on this approach by not only providing commuters with a digital solution but also insight into live availability. This enables commuters to make better commuting choices and easily find available parking before they leave the house, improving the experience and reducing congestion.

There are also privately funded projects that are taking smart initiatives to parking. Multi-modal transport applications, like the arevo app by RACV, give commuters full visibility into their commute options and integrate the Myki card into the solution for easy and convenient payment, whether it be for a train, bus or parking spot. These solutions will again help commuters make smarter decisions and encourage more people off our roads.

If we do not provide visibility into parking and commuting options, this fund will inevitably bring induced demand, the phenomenon whereby increasing supply sees more of that good consumed. Essentially, with the knowledge more road capacity and parking are available, more cars will take to the road than ever before, quickly nullifying the investment by the Government and bringing us back to square one.

To stymie induced demand, we need to provide transparency around the commute options available in real-time to allow commuters to make better decisions, rather than taking a punt the roads will be clear and parking available. Only by taking a more sophisticated, technology-driven approach to commuting options, will the Government be able to see a return of investment in their funding initiatives. Otherwise, this announcement just becomes a band-aid solution we will have to address again in the not so distant future.

– Mosstyn Howell, CEO at UbiPark