Human nature being what it is, we often don’t tend to make a concerted effort to fix a problem until we absolutely must.
Commuter parking in the Hills is fast approaching that critical level.
The signs were all there.
The region’s population boomed when the freeway went through.
Statistics from both the Mt Barker and Adelaide Hills Councils show more than 60% of the employed adult population commute to work, mainly to Adelaide.
And now the region is bracing itself for 7000 new homes in Mt Barker in the coming decades along with other residential growth in Nairne, Meadows and Strathalbyn.
The fact that people are trying to use public transport is a good thing for Adelaide’s congested main roads.
However, the flip side for this region is that the beautiful towns along the bus routes between Mt Barker and Crafers are fast becoming carparks.
The Adelaide Hills Council’s push for a regional approach to park n ride planning makes sense.
The Stirling, Aldgate, Crafers and Bridgewater areas are in a direct line with Mt Barker, Nairne, Littlehampton, Hahndorf and Balhannah so it would be in the best interests of both councils to work together.
Realistically most land available for potential park n rides will be owned by councils or State and Federal Governments so it also makes sense to include all three tiers in the discussions. Nothing can happen without the co-operation of the bus operators so they should be included in the conversation as well.
Presuming you can get all these groups to agree to communicate, one of the first things that needs to be is to work out commuter patterns – where are they coming from and why are they choosing to park in certain towns?
An audit needs to be done on land available for possible park n rides along with an examination of bus routes and timetables and some strategic analysis of where most of the commuter growth is going to occur in the future.
Armed with the right information the leaders of this community should be able to come up with some strategies to spread the parking burden in a cost effective manner.
The earlier efforts to cater for the demand in Crafers and Mt Barker have been largely inadequate from day one – as was pointed out to authorities at the design phase.
Both are too small and perfect examples of planning done on the run.
Park n ride areas don’t have to be ridiculously expensive.
The parking area by the old Jibilla railway station opposite the Aldgate bus depot is one example.