The number of parking transactions declined by seven per cent to 916,704 in the second half of 2019, down from 983,392 in the final six months of 2018.

This resulted in a decrease of $335,000 parking revenue, according to City of Newcastle Governance Director David Clarke.

The parking transaction numbers for 2019 tell us that plenty of parking remains available for inner-city shoppers and visitors, which is news we want both traders and shoppers to know about even though it amounts to a hit to our bottom line.”

The City’s 2019/20 budget has absorbed a further $280,000 from temporary discounts offered to motorists who took up the EasyPark app. Phone parking transactions’ rapid growth to 339,126 in the second half of 2019 comprised 37 per cent of all parking payments, compared to eight per cent in the same period in 2018.

Drivers have readily adopted the convenience of EasyPark, which allows remote payment by  phone and a refund for unused but paid-for time.

Now that the app has been widely embraced to become the dominant platform for paid parking, it’s time to end the introductory discount to bring consistency back to pricing in line with that charged when paying at the meter with cash or by credit card,” Mr. Clarke said.

The temporary 15 per cent discount applied to EasyPark transactions will cease from 1 February 2020. The app’s popularity rose every month and now accounts for almost 40 per cent of all payments for on-street parking.

We anticipate that more than three quarters of parking payments will be made through EasyPark within the next few years given the continued roll out of features such as parking refunds, the car-space finder and SMS reminders 15 minutes before your paid parking expires.”

Announcing the takings drop, council attributed the reduced demand for parking to the introduction of light rail. A critical examination of of diverse sets of data is needed to confirm such a correlation.

Weekday photo: Scott Street was once lined with parking meters, cars, and people. A complex issue. People might return if businesses do. But they are moving to Market Town and Honeysuckle.

Numbers for tram passengers versus bus passengers need comparison. Parking space losses occurred in Hunter and Scott streets due to light rail, in King Street due to new bus stops, and in Honeysuckle Drive due to construction works, and extensively around the CBD also with ongoing construction. There are constant foreshore and inner street closures due to events such as Super Cars. Adding to analysis difficulty, in 2018 and 2019 a large number of main street businesses closed or relocated out of the CBD after suffering losses during light rail construction and consequent reduced demand for client parking.

Nevertheless, City of Newcastle Governance Director David Clarke said the resulting $335,000 decline in parking revenue was bitter-sweet because it was evidence that the general public is embracing public transport in the city.  

The fact that light rail has been more successful than anticipated is a good planning problem to have,” Mr Clarke said.

The positive uptake of public transport helps reduce greenhouse emissions and traffic congestion and supports activation of our City, so it’s good to see plenty of people using the light rail, with ferry patronage also increasing by 34,000 rides last year.”

Opal card data shows an average of 100,000 light rail trips are occurring each month. More than a million light rail passenger trips in the service’s maiden year exceeded City of Newcastle expectations, based on the State Government’s projection of 657,000,