By Natalie Rayment
While cutting back on avolattes may help some people get into the housing market faster, real affordability gains can actually be made by cutting back on another one of our habits – car parking. But how do you recover from a car parking addiction? It helps if there is a car sharing scheme operating within your apartment complex.
This is exactly what is happening in Brisbane now. Recently, a 550-room student accommodation development in Toowong was approved by Brisbane City Council with no residential car parking spaces. Instead, 20 spaces have been allocated for a car share scheme, 38 spaces for visitor parking and 238 bicycle parking spaces. This development is part of a future cities revolution happening in Australia and across the globe.
In Sydney, Australia’s largest car share service GoGet launched its biggest ‘pod’ within the Central Park development in 2014. Forty-four of the car parking spaces within the development were allocated to GoGet to house their fleet of share vehicles. This meant that both on-site residents and members of the public could have access to a car for less than $200 a month (based on moderate GoGet usage), in comparison to an estimated $650 to own and run a private vehicle.
Apartment buyers in Central Park were also given the choice of whether they wanted to purchase a unit with or without a dedicated car parking space. By choosing no car space, they would save about $75,000 in upfront costs plus about $70,000* in interest over the lifetime of a typical mortgage for an inner city apartment in Brisbane.
While some of us could not fathom living without our private car, it is actually market demand that is driving the growth of car share schemes within new development. In the Central Park case, the car sharing pod was established based on the interest shown by both on-site residents and the general public. This trend reflects the changing needs and values of younger people who are “less likely to drive than people a decade ago, and a third have chosen not to fork out for a car”.
Younger Australians are now less likely than their parents to get a driver’s licence. In 2001, the licensing rates for people aged under 25 years was 77% compared to 66% in 2013. This appears to be echoing a trend in the United States where since 1983, there has been a 47 percent decrease in the percentage of 16-year-olds with a licence.
As consumer attitudes towards car ownership change, the growth in car sharing schemes is happening at “breakneck speed” (Bainbridge, 2017). Local government support of this growth is key to the future success of car sharing. In Brisbane, the local Council ought to be congratulated for their forward-thinking decision in approving the Toowong development. It is a step in the right direction but there is still more work that needs to be done.
In 2014, Council’s Parking Taskforce recommended that BCC “actively encourage and incentivise the expansion of car sharing schemes in Brisbane within off-street carparks in new developments”. The delivery timeframe for this recommendation was 6 months.
Meanwhile in 2017, the current City Plan makes no mention of car sharing, let alone incentives for those wanting to incorporate it into their development. It is an initiative that developers can play a lead role in delivery. Yet, developers are still tasked to defend non-compliance with the planning scheme’s acceptable outcomes for carparking rates when proposing a lesser amount offset by a car share scheme.
It needs to be a priority to amend Brisbane City Plan 2014 to incentivise car share. A city-wide policy approach is required. It doesn’t need to be a fight that plays out as a NIMBY vs YIMBY conversation with each new development proposal. The benefits of car sharing are too important to ignore.
Every GoGet car takes as many as 12 vehicles off the road. With less cars on the road and less car trips being taken; air quality improves and Co2 emissions are reduced. Car share users tend to replace more private car trips with public and active transport use. This has associated public health benefits.
Incentivising car share will not only help the average person’s hip pocket but it could also play a significant role in reducing traffic and congestion. Our health, our cities and the environment all win with car sharing, making it a very attractive solution.
*Based on mortgage repayment calculator for a principal and interest loan set with a 5% interest rate over a period of 30 years.