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04 Sep 2016
Save over $180 a month on parking

Meet the father and son who save over $180 a month in city parking fees

- by booking their car spots in advance online.

Article sourced from Sydney Morning Herald 4 September – Written by Sue Williams

Meet the father and son who save over $180 a month in city parking fees – by booking their car spots in advance online.

Anthony Serratore, 29, has to drive to work in the CBD from his home in Croydon as he drops off 20-month-old Max at daycare on the way. Without a lift at his local station and packed peak-time trains, it's just too difficult to manoeuvre his son and the stroller on and off public transport.

But after discovering he was paying a small fortune on parking each week, he investigated the online app for the car park nearest his office at Pyrmont.

"I'm not very tech-savvy, but it didn't take me long to work out how much I could save by booking my parking space online in advance," says Serratore, who works as a valuer. "I'm always on my phone anyway, so it wasn't too much of a bother to go on to Secure-a-Spot. And I found I was saving so much money – and time – by organising it in advance."

A major survey of more than 3000 people living within 40 kilometres of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, conducted by Australia's largest car park operator Secure Parking, found that online bookings generally delivered savings of up to 60 per cent on the standard casual parking fee.

At Serratore's car park at 320 Harris Street, for instance, the drive-up rate per day is $39, and the online Secure-a-Spot rate is $30. For early bird parking, the saving is even more: the drive-up rate is the same at $39, but the online booking rate is $14 – meaning a potential saving of $600 over four weeks.

Secure Parking spokesman Andrew Sapir says car parking is usually a "grudge purchase" but it can be a lot more affordable than most people think. "There is definitely a perception that parking is very expensive but if you plan it ahead, you can get it at a much cheaper rate," he says.

"A lot of people still drive into the Sydney CBD, drive round and round, then go into the first car park they see as they're running late. But there are now a lot of options out there and if they think ahead, and book online, it can be much cheaper than they imagined. I would be confident enough to say that off-peak parking through Secure-a-Spot is cheaper than parking has been for 15-20 years."  

The survey also found that 47 per cent of drivers always, or regularly, drive around to find an on-street parking spot – something that Lorraine Duffy, CEO of the industry peak body Parking Australia, says accounts for 30 per cent of traffic congestion in Sydney.

"You wouldn't go away and then just turn up at a hotel and ask for a room," she says. "You'd book that in advance, so you don't have to pay the rack rate.

"Well, we have to start thinking about parking in the same way. If you plan your trip before you leave, and then book a car space online, then you'll know where you're going and get the best bang for your buck at the same time. The technology is developing fast."

As for Serratore, who also has another son, one-month-old Lennox with wife Bianca, 28, he would now never drive anywhere without booking his parking ahead.

"It might only be a few dollars a day but, if you're doing it regularly, it really adds up," he says. "I go on to the app [through] every night as I haven't worked out yet if you can do it for the week ahead. But it saves me so much time and money, it's so worth it."

Ten Top Tips To Save Money On Parking*

  1. Book online – for big discounts and a guaranteed car space
  2. Use an app – same as booking online but enables you to book while on the go.
  3. Park on the city fringe – rates vary across the CBD so park on the cheaper fringe and gain the health benefits of a five-minute walk.
  4. Use the free time limit – if you have a quick errand many car parks are free if your stay is under 10 minutes.
  5. Set a timer – some retail car parks offer the first two or three hours free. Set a timer on your phone so you don't overstay.
  6. Time your arrival – Check when evening/off-peak rates begin and plan your journey around the cheaper rates.
  7. Venue parking validation – look out for the restaurants, businesses and shops that have parking deals with nearby car parks.
  8. Bulk-parking discounts – search around for loyalty programs for long-term and casual parkers, they can offer substantial savings.
  9. VIP Parking – if you're meeting a client in the city see if they have a VIP Parking Account for free or discounted parking
  10. Loyalty Programs – check out the offers available through club membership for special deals.

* Provided by Secure Parking

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 4 September 2016 Author Sue Williams


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