The City of Sydney has about 160,000 parking spaces, including almost 39,000 on-street spaces. This equates to about 1.75 spaces for every vehicle registered to local residents.
However, our Council area has the additional complexity of the city centre â€” the heart of our global cityâ€”with 600,000 people moving through and around the streets every day. On any given day, there are approximately one million people in our local government area, including residents, workers, students and visitors.
Clearly, there is not the physical capacity to provide parking or road space for all of these people. As the City continues to grow, the pressure on street parking increases.
As a Council, our challenge is to responsibly manage the limited capacity and to balance the needs of those who have to drive with the serious economic and environmental impacts of congestion.
The NSW Government recently released its draft transport master plan, including strategies to encourage more public transport and walking and cycling in the city centre. It looks at improvements to ticketing systems and improved rail services.
Sydney's congestion is costing around $4 billion and is projected to rise to $8 billion by 2020 if its business as usual. If bold approaches are not taken, the City will be close to standstill in 20 years as we try to cope with 300,000 more people.
Increasingly many residents in the City are choosing not to own cars. Bernard Salt wrote about this in The Australian last week. He said:
"There is one suburb in Australia that stands apart from all others in terms of its lack of dependence on the car.
"That suburb is Haymarket in Sydney, which is located immediately west of Central station, barely a kilometre south of the centre of Sydney. In Haymarket 67 per cent of the suburb's 1600 dwellings have no car. The next least car-dependent suburb in Australia is Sydney, which covers the CBD, where 61 per cent of households have no car.
"In fact, five of the seven suburbs in Australia where more than half the households have no car are located in Sydney: Haymarket, Sydney, Potts Point, Ultimo and Chippendale.
"But the no-car movement is bigger than just these suburbs.
"There are 12 Sydney suburbs where more than 40 per cent of households have no cars. These suburbs form a car-less coagulation of inner-city living that stretches from Waterloo through Redfern to Surry Hills and Sydney and east into Woolloomooloo and Rushcutters Bay.
"This no-car region covers 10 square kilometres, contains 100,000 residents and 57,000 dwellings."
Transport experts around the world are grappling with these issues and the overwhelming consensus is that the answer lies in giving people more transport options.
These challenges have been recognised in Connecting Our City, the City's 25 year transport plan that will soon be reported back to Council following public consultation.
It focuses on strengthening the work this Council has undertaken to make it easier for people to move around the city, such as supporting car share, improving walking and cycling networks, and advocating strongly for better public transport.
With the final Connecting our City report imminent, it's time for the next layer of strategic work to develop a sustainable and consistent parking policy for our village areas and our city centre.
There are long-standing suburb by suburb differences in how parking is managed as a result of various amalgamations.
There are also wide ranging views on how to manage parking in the city. This was evident during the recent Council election campaign with a variety of ideas proposed to change parking allocation, charging and restrictions.
Parking reform is complex and controversial. On-street parking is subject to a complex set of regulations and directions under the control of Roads and Maritime Services. A city centre parking policy will necessarily be subject to pending State Government decisions on light rail, bus, taxi and traffic in the CBD.
I have asked the City's CEO to develop draft new City parking policies, based on evidence-based research, international best practice and public consultation.