Malls, office buildings set to charge higher parking fees

Private carpark operators, such as Wilson Parking (above), said they were studying the increased public charges closely.
Private carpark operators, such as Wilson Parking (above), said they were studying the increased public charges closely. PHOTO: ST FILE

Private operators likely to follow suit when public parking rates are raised in December

Expect the cost of private parking in shopping centres and office buildings to go up as well, soon after higher public parking rates kick in at the end of the year.

Industry insiders say private carpark operators peg their fees to public rates and would raise them in tandem with the coming hike.

On Thursday, it was announced that short-term public carpark charges will rise by 20 per cent from December. Outside of the restricted zone (RZ) in the city area, parking will cost $1.20 an hour, up from $1. Within the RZ, parking will cost double that - at $2.40 an hour, up from $2.

But in many areas, this will bring public carpark rates in line with private charges. For instance, weekday parking at the Ang Mo Kio Hub costs $1.30 an hour - only 10 cents more than the new public rate.

At the Raffles City shopping mall, rates are priced at $2.20 an hour on weekdays before 6pm, which would be lower than the public rate of $2.40 per hour.

When The Straits Times contacted building developers, and private carpark operators Wilson Parking, Secure Parking, G Tech and Top Parking, most said they were studying the increased public charges closely.

A CapitaLand spokesman said it regularly reviews carpark rates at its malls, adding that these rates are set after "taking into consideration the rates at surrounding carparks as well as demand and supply".

A source at one major carpark operator, who did not want to be named, said: "We will have to match the increase; if it's too cheap, too many drivers will come in and there will be too much demand."

He added that private carparks can afford to charge a premium as most of them are indoors and motorists do not have to worry about exceeding their parking time and being fined.

Another industry source said private operators were waiting to see if there was an adverse public reaction towards the hike. "But if the Housing Board goes ahead with the increase, we will just follow the leader," he said.

In 2002, when public parking prices were last hiked, private operators raised their fees too.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority and HDB said last week that the latest fee revision was necessary to recover costs, as building, operating and managing costs for carparks have increased over the years.

Associate Professor Michael Li, a transport economist at Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School, said it was a given that the private sector would increase their rates by a quantum similar to that of the latest rise in public parking charges.

He added that costs would also have increased for these private operators.

"Everyone will follow when the Government takes the lead," said Prof Li.

• Additional reporting by Rei Kurohi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Malls, office buildings set to charge higher parking fees'. Print Edition | Subscribe