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Is free parking at work a thing of the past?

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and it’s certainly true of parking. ‘Free Parking’ isn’t free. Somebody pays.

The little patch of tarmac so neatly outlined in white, costs between £400 and £1000 in running costs. The capital costs can be £2000. And the cost of the land is extra. That’s for each car parking space. It soon adds up.

And costs are set to become higher again. Later this month, Nottingham City Council begin charging the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL). In Nottingham, this will see an additional £253 p.a. added to the cost of providing car parking at work. Some employers may swallow the costs of the levy, others are expected to pass it on to their employees. Unsurprisingly, it’s being met with opposition.

Bristol City Council is also considering proposals to introduce the WPL.

The proceeds of WPLs have to used for investment in local transport. Effectively, they provide a stick to encourage drivers to seek alternative transport for their journey to work whilst generating the funds for those alternative transports.

And therein lies the rub. The truth is (outside of London) people remain stubbornly attached to their cars because public transport consistently fails to measure up in terms of cost and convenience.

Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) offers to address some of those shortcomings. Used alongside traditional buses and trams, the flexibility of DRT would be key to attracting users who are reluctant (or unable) to give up the freedom offered by personal transport. Whilst also tackling the congestion and pollution caused by single car occupancy.

And of course, fewer car journeys to work alleviates pressure on parking spaces and parking costs. Free parking at work may become a thing of the past but DRT would help to keep the costs in check.