I was pleased to represent the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure – Andrew Constance at the Parking Australia 'Meet the CEO' event.
Please read below for my speech at the event.
It’s an exciting time to become CEO of this key industry organisation - With so much exciting and potentially disruptive technology on the horizon, CEO of Parking Australia will be a fascinating and challenging role.
I was pleased to represent the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure – Andrew Constance who sends his apologises he can’t be here in person.
This afternoon speaking on behalf of the Government, I'd like to focus on a few key areas; planning for the emerging technologies of connected, automated and electric vehicles, and the Government's response to the Parking Space Levy Review.
I'd also like to briefly mention a solution we're trialling to free up commuter car parks for commuters.
I think we all agree that the emerging technologies of connected and autonomous vehicles and electric-powered vehicles will bring about a radical transformation in how we use transport, how we own transport assets and how we use our cities.
To plan for a future in the era of the driverless vehicle, of vehicles that exchange information with the transport infrastructure and with each other, we first have to consider the different models of ownership, the different models of usage and make assumptions and predictions about which models will dominate.
At one end of the spectrum we envisage a future where private car ownership and usage is a wasteful relic of the past. A future which most closely mimics traditional public transport, with predominantly third party ownership of vehicles and multiple users of each vehicle, often at the same time.
Or instead, as driving becomes less of a chore, vehicles have zero emissions and time spent in transit is more productive, will the traditional model of private ownership and private usage prevail and perhaps even prosper?
Will there be even more cars on our roads, but cars that are cleaner and quieter, ferrying occupants working on their laptops, conducting meetings or even catching up on sleep?
And as an aside I note that Parking Australia has been facilitating that debate on your web site – so you are well advanced with this conversation.
Whatever our expectations, we know we have to stay agile if we're to plan for what is likely to be a radical transformation in how we use transport, how we own transport assets and how we use our cities.
The shift towards autonomous vehicles makes planning particularly challenging. We don't know for sure exactly what services autonomous vehicles will replace and what new ones they might create.
What we do know is that there will be changes in land use, changes in the way we use and access transport, and perhaps in models of vehicle ownership.
The only certainty is that we need to build flexibility for these emerging technologies into our planning and design processes today.
As driverless cars can drop off their passengers and nip around the corner to park themselves, it may no longer be essential to locate car parks in valuable, dense commercial areas.
So it makes sense to design buildings today which incorporate zones to safely drop off and collect people. Or, if this isn't possible today, build in capacity so this feature can be easily retrofitted when required.
The architecture of car parks will need to be open enough to efficiently accommodate a radically different future use; either as full or partial change of use to commercial or residential spaces, as a fully connected automated storage facility for connected and autonomous vehicle, as some combination of the two or as something not yet on our horizon.
I am aware of some Sydney Councils already requiring carpark heights in buildings to allow easy conversion in the future to other uses.
It's challenging for industries like yours to make long term plans when the future is peppered with so many 'unknowns', but also ripe with possibility and opportunity.
Here's just one scenario to ponder. What if the adoption of autonomous vehicles did, as many have predicted, result in more people opting out of private car ownership in favour of a summon on demand shared service.
So, yes, under this scenario there may be less private car ownership and less cars overall. However, there could also be a greater demand for car parking spaces for privately owned vehicles.
That may seem counter-intuitive, but when the family car can be summoned in minutes through an app, why store it on your property?
Why would anyone waste valuable residential real estate on a garage when that same space could house a man cave, she shed or home gym instead? Or my preference a vegetable garden and a chook shed.
Why plug your car in at home, to be charged at domestic retail rates, when your local car park operator can charge it faster, for less and still make a profit?
The shift towards off-site storage of the family car opens up multiple opportunities for parking providers, not just in the provision of storage but in ancillary services such as car washing, charging and maintenance.
In the future, it's possible that many of the car-related chores that were once part of the household's weekend ritual would now be outsourced to the provider of parking spaces.
Yes, there are challenges in planning for the unknown, and the groundwork industries like yours lays today will determine whether these unknowns become opportunities or hurdles.
In the face of such uncertainty, planners, owners and operators of transport infrastructure and services need to design structures and systems that are open and adaptable.
Transport for NSW has identified specific opportunities around planning for commuter car parks at mass transit hubs to support the transition to autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles.
As announced in the NSW Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Plan, Transport for NSW is co-investing $2 million in electric vehicle charging points in commuter car parks.
We're also investigating a trial of commercial models for the operation of low-power chargers in commuter car parks. In future, commuter car park providers will probably need to provide public charging points as part of the business model for their operations.
Not only will these chargers support access to public transport, but they'll also benefit electric vehicle owners who can't charge their car at home.
They'll be able to drive to the station, wharf or bus interchange, park the car and leave it to charge while they work or shop.
And both the spatial and ecological footprint of these carparks will be smaller.
They'll be equipped with sensors and digital infrastructure and may even be connected to other vehicles.
This technology will allow cars and car park to exchange real-time information. There'll be less frustrating time and energy wasted hunting for a spot and each car will require much less space.
It's a key tenet of our planning process that commuter carparks will be designed and built to be adaptable, to be future-proof.
In the future, most trips may be served by highly automated and/or shared last mile services to mass transit. In this scenario, demand for parking would be significantly reduced and parking facilities could then be re-purposed for other productive transit oriented developments.
One of the biggest shifts is that commuter car parks won't necessarily be sited next to mass transit. They won't need to be. The CAVs could drop off passengers and park further away on less high value land, or simply move on to pick up more passengers.
In this scenario, the focus for mass transit hub design may be expanded, high-throughput passenger pick-up and drop-off zones rather than parking capacity.
However it unfolds, it's clear that the future of the car parking industry is inextricably linked to developments in automated and electric vehicle technology.
To return to the present, I'd like to briefly mention a new initiative Transport is trialling in commuter carparks.
We've recognised there is a need to prioritise the access to parking for genuine commuters.
A controlled car park access pilot, branded Park&Ride, commenced in January 2018 on the northern beaches.
The trial's purpose was to assist in securing commuter car spaces for genuine public transport users.
It uses the Opal card as a mechanism for determining whether a valid public transport journey had been undertaken.
Transport Park&Ride provides customers with up to 18 hours free parking each day, if they use public transport, and can prove it through their Opal cards.
Customers need to complete a journey by tapping on and off using an accepted Opal card, and then use this same Opal card when they exit the car park.
Customers who do not catch public transport within 18 hours from the time of entry are charged commercial rates. The fee currently charged is $30 per day on weekdays and $10 per day on weekends.
To date, the trial has launched at eight car parks including Warriewood, Dee Why, Brookvale, Mona Vale and Narrabeen Commuter Car Parks (B-Line) and Ashfield, Kogarah and Seven Hills Commuter Car Parks (Sydney Trains).
This has been a great success. Since Park&Ride was introduced, around 90% of the customers using the car parks have used their Opal Card to claim their free parking.
I'd like to finish by giving an update on the results of the Parking Space Levy review.
For the nine years between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2018, the Parking Space Levy has generated over $900 million and we've made good use of these funds.
They've contributed to improving infrastructure on the rail, bus, light rail and ferry networks, including light rail extension, new commuter carparks and new bus interchanges.
The objective of the PSL policy is to reduce congestion by discouraging driving and parking in busy areas and to help meet the cost of building better public transport.
I'm pleased to see that, despite significant economic growth and development in Sydney, car park numbers have remained largely unchanged since July 2009.
At the same time, public transport patronage has grown significantly in recent years with improvements to the network, which the Parking Space Levy has played a part in funding.
As you all know, a review of this Levy was completed and its report tabled in Parliament in November 2018.
I'd like to talk about the report’s recommendations and how we are acting on them.
Firstly, we accept that there's a need to simplify the requirements for the annual return.
With this in mind, Transport for NSW and NSW Revenue are working together to investigate system solutions to send automated levy assessments. This would remove the need for most car park owners to submit annual returns.
And we've found there's confusion around claiming exemptions.
To address this, NSW Revenue is updating the guidelines for claiming exemptions and will publish these in the near future. The new guidelines will clarify the requirements for exemptions to remove any ambiguity. There is also a program of activities and audits that NSW Revenue NSW is undertaking to address non-compliance.
The Review recommended the Government consider amending the legislation to provide for the proportional liability for the Parking Space Levy to transfer from vendor to the purchaser at the date of settlement.
This is a good idea. It will make it clear to car park purchasers exactly what their liabilities are from day one, and the Government supports it.
It's recommended that a section be added to the Transport for NSW Annual Report providing details of Parking Space Levy revenue collected and applications of Parking Space Levy funds.
Transport for NSW already has published updated information on its website about the revenue generated from the Parking Space Levy and the sums spent on projects from Parking Space Levy funds. This information will now also be published in Transport for NSW’s Annual Report from next year.
The final recommendation was that the Government undertake longer term policy development and planning for the Parking Space Levy scheme to capture changes in the Sydney landscape, new public transport services commencing and emerging technologies.
The Government has no immediate plans to extend the Parking Space Levy to other areas.
However, as city centres grow and new public transport services such as the Sydney Metro and new Light Rail networks are being added, it will be appropriate for the Government to review priority areas and strategies to alleviate congestion, and we'll be doing this.
The Government will undertake longer term policy development and planning for the Parking Space Levy scheme that considers the changing Sydney landscape and emerging technologies such as electric vehicles.
This will include consideration of where and how the Parking Space Levy applies, including any exemptions, as well as projects the funds are spent on.
We assure you, that in undertaking any longer term policy development and planning for the Parking Space Levy, the Government will consult with the parking industry and our discussions will be robust and transparent.
Thank you for your attention this afternoon. I hope that my presentation has demonstrated that the NSW government is thinking of the future of transport infrastructure just as we can see your organisation is doing. And over the coming years we look forward to working with Parking Australia to help prepare our state for the exciting challenges that the future will hold.