Thursday 17 July 2014

The high cost of free parking: Christchurch Hospital edition

Remember when Aaron Keown campaigned on free parking at the hospital during the Christchurch Council elections? And then they were snuck into the three-year plan?
Keown said it was such a minute detail in the plan that many would not have picked up on it. However, it would make a huge difference to hospital visitors who were often stressed enough as it was without worrying about the parking meter.
He knew of a family of five who had been to visit their dying relative and waited while life support was turned off. Meanwhile their parking meters had run out.
"They all had parking tickets."
Royce Gordon, who was visiting a relative yesterday, welcomed the change, saying it was a terrific idea, but she questioned how many people would have 10 cent pieces in their pockets.
The new regime will apply to on-site hospital parking and should start this month.
Yay! We aren't going to use prices to ration the quantity of something in scarce supply! Nothing could go wrong! NOTHING!
A shortage of parking in and around Christchurch Hospital is causing headaches for staff and patients and some patients have reportedly missed their surgery as a result.

The Canterbury District Health Board's website says providing adequate parking at the hospital has always been a challenge and will become more difficult when the development of the Acute Services Building begins later this year.

One nurse at the hospital, who only wants to be named as Francis, said on Wednesday that families of patients often complain and she knows of some people who have missed their surgeries or their children's operations because of the problem.

She said people are told if they park illegally in certain situations they can get out of the fines, but she says that's not the point and people still worry when they can't find a park.
When prices don't ration supply, queueing does. Parking lots used by those coming in for surgery and expecting to find a parking space aren't the best place to ration scarce supply by queueing.

Kudos to @McMahon4SH who caught the link:
It surely won't be all down to the change in price - there is a lot of construction and road work going on that will be affecting alternative parking spots. But free parking isn't helping.

Back to the RadioNZ story:
Canterbury District Health Board member Aaron Keown said management is looking into options for other parking in and around the hospital, including a park-and-ride system.

He said several organisations involved in nearby projects do not meet regularly and there is no overall coordination of transport in the area.

Mr Keown said the lack of parking combined with forthcoming road works and transport plans will make the situation disastrous.
Higher prices could perhaps be an option too.

All of this is made worse by the quake-closure of the parking lot across the street from the hospital. But that lot's closure pre-dated the pricing changes.

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