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Proposals to change car park charges to tackle congestion and improve air quality

News release from 30/11/2018

PARKING charges at some of Cambridge City Council’s car parks could change from next April as part of the council’s strategy to reduce congestion, improve air quality and produce lower carbon emissions.

The council is currently consulting local businesses, employers, residents, car park users and other interested parties on proposals for its off-street parking policy for 2019-20.

These proposals build on recent success in targeting peak time travel, encouraging the use of alternative modes of transport other than cars and focusing on maintaining a healthier environment.

The proposals include:

  1. Subject to considering responses to the consultation, a trial weekend peak time congestion tariff for a period of 12 months. This tariff would be designed to reduce the number of vehicles on city centre streets during the peak weekend periods, reducing queuing at the main car parks and making visiting the city a more pleasurable experience for all. The proposal is for an additional tariff of 50p per hour (or part hour) for parking during the period of 11am-1pm on Saturdays and Sundays; 
  2. For the first time in five years increasing charges at pay and display car parks at Castle Hill, Adam and Eve Street, Riverside and Gwydir Street, in line with the consumer price index (CPI) which at the end of September was 2.2%;
  3. Increasing the standard charges in multi-storey car parks by CPI, as above;
  4. Formally adopting the weekday peak time congestion tariff that was introduced as a trial in April of this year. This tariff has helped to reduce the number of vehicles on city centre streets during the peak hours of 8am to 10am;
  5. Starting evening tariffs at 7pm rather than 6pm;
  6. Increasing charges for season ticket parking for business users in line with the retail price index (RPI) which at the end of September was 3.3%.

Together, the proposals aim to reduce congestion, improve air quality and maintain value for money for customers while encouraging drivers to use Park and Ride, guided bus, train, car clubs and cycling facilities, rather than city centre multi-storey car parks.

Cllr Kevin Blencowe, Executive Councillor for Planning and Transport, said: “In setting our car parking charges we have to balance the need to provide quality services that offer value for money, improve air quality and reduce the impact of congestion. 

“We are working to encourage more residents, visitors, tourists, commuters and business people to use modes of transport other than their cars and our parking charges need to be consistent with that strategy.

“Cambridge remains a busy and vibrant city with 8.1million visitors in 2017, which is an increase of 2.5million from 2013 and 500,000 more than 2016.

“Visitors are choosing varying ways to get to the city, some of which cause less congestion and pollution than others.

“We need to continue to incentivise people to choose alternatives to their car and make sure our charges help us achieve our objectives.”

The peak time weekday congestion tariff attracts an additional tariff of 50p per hour for every hour (or part hour) of stay. It is estimated that the trial will, over the 12 month period, have moved approximately 75,000 vehicles away from those peak hours when the city is heavily congested. The reduction in usage is especially noticeable at Queen Anne Terrace car park, the car park most favoured by commuters.

There has been an increase in drivers choosing to use the Park and Ride and not to drive into the city centre. This has been driven by the city council using the peak time congestion tariff and Cambridgeshire County Council removing the £1 Park and Ride parking charge.

Last year the council moved the evening tariff from 5pm to 6pm and, using current data, estimates that over a 12 month period this will have generated a reduction in car park occupancy of approximately 20,000 vehicles.

The council also froze prices at its pay and display car parks for a fourth year in a row, introduced a standard tariff from Monday through to Friday across all multi-storey car parks and increased season ticket prices by 30%

Comments received on the proposals will be considered by Cllr Blencowe who will recommend amendments if necessary before any changes are introduced next year.

Following the consultation, and before final proposals are implemented, charges will be advertised in the local media and on notices in the car parks. 

Any changes to the council’s car parking charges will be subject to approval of the council’s overall budget in February of next year.

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