22 Mar 2022

Brisbane CBD discounted parking boosting foot traffic, but disabled parking disappearing

Brisbane City Council is losing $500,000 a week from free and discounted city parking programs designed to attract workers and consumers back into the CBD.

However, cheaper parking offers, which began this month, have been credited with increasing foot traffic by 8 per cent in the Queen Street Mall over the first week.

The Brisbane City Council initiative means workers and shoppers can park for free in metered street parks, and King George Square and Wickham Terrace car park fees have been slashed by 50 per cent.

It runs until February 28.

A council spokeswoman said the loss of parking fee revenue had not and would not impact the delivery of services in the Brisbane local government area.

BCC Infrastructure chairman Andrew Wines said, "by saving money at the parking meters, we're hoping people will spend a little extra with local businesses as a result".

"In the first few days following the introduction of the temporary parking relief [on February 9], foot traffic in the Queen Street Mall increased 8 per cent on the previous week," he said.

"This is a great sign that people are visiting and spending with their local businesses, and we expect to see this figure continue to grow."

Last year, the council offered free metered parking from August 3-15 to help essential workers during the state government's COVID lockdown.

Each week of free parking meters and discounted council car parks is estimated to cost around $500,000, according to a BCC spokeswoman.

Cr Wines said paid parking had been in place in Brisbane since 1957 and "while temporary relief had worked to stimulate the economy during the unprecedented situation of a global pandemic, parking meters help local businesses by encouraging turnover of spaces".

Free parking for people with a disability ongoing, but scarce

While parking this month is less of a problem for able-bodied drivers, disability advocates said the situation is not improving for another part of the community.

No Permit, No Park campaign leader Elisha Matthews said every time she visited the city, there seemed to be a new disability car space missing.

She said some were moved from the James St area due to construction of new bike lanes or roadworks, and eight were moved to another location closer to Eagle St. 

"In total, there were 10 in the CBD area, and concerningly, one at the City Botanic Gardens was completely removed," she said.

"They're not as convenient as they used to be," she said.

Mayor Adrian Schrinner said anyone with a disability permit could park in any metered spot in Brisbane for free.

However, Ms Matthews said just because a park was free "doesn't make them accessible".

Many drivers with a disability permit needed plenty of space at the back or side of the car to remove wheelchairs or other aids.

Geoff Trappett, who runs social policy consultancy Inclusion Moves, confirmed disabled people had "seen a slow but steady reduction in both the number of accessible parks available and their desirability of location".

"Pushing parks further and further from the Queen Street Mall is a concern as it invariably means the path of travel will include gradients [making them] inaccessible by many visitors with a disability," he said.

"One issue Inclusion Moves has also noticed is in addition to the reduction of accessible parks many have moved from four-hour parking zones to two. This is of a concern as it is a form of reduction of options by stealth."

Mr Trappett called for Brisbane City Council to form an "accessible parking working group" with members of the disabled community to provide input and transparency into their decision-making process.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-23/brisbane-city-council-discount-parking-foot-traffic-increase/100843292

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