I do think that parking should be paid for, but it should be in conjunction with the Opal card, along the lines of a small charge if train travel is undertaken, a MASSIVE charge if there is no train travel.
I know of one person here in Katoomba who parks in the commuter car-park, then walks to work at the local newsagent, why should she get parking provided by the railways intended for commuters?
I am all in favour of gates at entry and exit, tap on with your Opal card, if you travel by train, charged a dollar or three, if you are using it as a local parking space, then $50 sounds appropriate for all day parking at a carpark intended for commuters.
The Metrocard in Adelaide is able to be used in this way at the Modbury (O-Bahn interchange) parking station opened in January last year.
If your Metrocard is still 'active' (AdelaideMetro ticketing works on a two hour window of unlimited transfers) from travelling within the two hours before you attempt to exit the car park, you get charged a $2 flat rate for the day when you scan the Metrocard at the boom gate
If you haven't been on public transport, the charge is $10 for the day which can be paid by Metrocard or a paper ticket. In this instance, the casual parking fee of $10 is high enough to act as a disincentive because the adjacent shopping centre has free (albeit less secure, and mostly not sheltered) parking which is much closer to the centre than the O-Bahn parking. That would obviously be different in different places.
Metrocard can also be used for accessing bike lockups at a number of major stations (I think it's 8 rail, 3 O-Bahn and one conventional bus interchange) which are free for unlimited use after paying a $10 yearly fee and presenting photo ID for it to be activated.
I once asked a world public transport expert what he thought of my proposal and he had the same reaction as you and he actually said "I stopped reading when I read about the 15,000 space parking station"
And quite rightly so.
Even without considering climate change and despite the massively lavish subsidisation of private vehicle use in Australia to hold off its obsolescence, Peak Car is coming. At some point Australia needs to stop clinging to start planning for the future instead of continuing to throw billions of dollars down the toilet in a desperate attempt to stay stuck in the past.
The one positive of wasting space on car parking is that when it becomes obsolete, every car park can be converted into 8-10 bike parks!
In the right areas bikes will always be attractive to some, but in hot climates in business attire, this will never have the success rate you see in cooler more dense Europe.
It's more to do with Australian attitudes than any good reason.
Europe experienced a heatwave around the start of July which had many cities in even the cycling paradise countries of northern Europe experiencing maximum temperatures in the high thirties and low forties just like we get. And yet for some reason there was no difference in the number of people cycling to work or to train stations.
There are three big attitude changes we need to make here:
- Realise that wearing a suit and tie in hot weather is ridiculous and doesn't make you more productive than wearing a short sleeve shirt and lightweight trousers or even shorts.
- Dump our ridiculous mandatory helmet laws (the easiest step - it's just a stroke of a pen!) which have been the main cause of killing off cycling in Australia as a normal form of transport. Helmets would still of course be used for sport cycling - I like how the Dutch language uses a separate word for sport cyclists, which literally translates to "wheeled athlete", to distinguish them from cyclists who are normal people using bikes for normal transport.
- Deal out some tough love for our world-leading obesity problem.
- Provide appropriate infrastructure so you can trundle along at 15-20 km/h in normal clothes (like Princess Mary does with her kids - in Australia she would be cooped up in a limo!) instead of kitting up in a helmet and lycra superhero outfit for a death defying sport cycle.
- Ween the motor industry off taxpayer subsidies - starting with charging rego by the kilogram - while still providing relief for people in regional areas where the tyranny of distance comes into play.