AUSTRALIA is a car nation and Canberra was a capital built for cars.
We can accept this as a universal truth – and accept the consequences to our collective hip pocket, carbon footprint and waistline – or do something about it.
The ACT Government is doing something about it by introducing paid parking around the Hyatt and in the Kingston area, ahead of paid parking starting in the parliamentary triangle.
Free parking provides little incentive to use public transport, carpool or ride a bike.
In fact, 83 per cent of Canberrans continue to travel to work by car, which puts pressure on our road infrastructure. Subsidising ACTION buses last financial year cost the ACT taxpayer $111 million.
Aside from the cost, driving to work damages the environment; 22 per cent of the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. Just a third of us need to embrace sustainable transport to see our emissions drop by 14 per cent.
There are other less-visible consequences of free parking. It was a sign of inequity (dare I say, elitism) that some workers parked free while everyone else had to pay. And the reputation of our city suffers as visitors waste time circling national institutions, desperately seeking space in carparks overflowing with office workers’ cars.
The introduction of paid parking within the parliamentary triangle is not simply a cash grab. It presents an opportunity for us to build a city for the 21st century.