One of my photos

Hospital parking

December 29th, 2018 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

The question about hospital car parking charges has been in the news again in the last couple of days, following some FOI requests from the media. What grabbed my attention was the unsurprising statistic tht the hospital where I seem to be spending half my time (Royal Surrey in Guildford) has the most expensive parking. It certainly feels like it, and it does feel like too much.

Having said that, and I know it is an unpopular opinion, I don’t have any objection to the principle of parking charges at hospitals, or indeed at workplaces and shopping centres, as long as they are sensible. By sensible I mean that they are covering the costs of providing that parking.

Because it does cost money to provide parking. The space for car parking costs money to lay out, it costs money to maintain, and there is an opportunity cost because that land is all tied up that could be used for something else. Add to that the small matter of business rates and it can cost plenty. If you do not charge enough to cover those costs you are effectively subsidising people who drive to hospital/work/shop at the expense of people who cycle, walk or take public transport and taxis. If you want to make it all out as a ‘tax on the motorist’ that’s fine, but if your solution is just to make it free than you are just asking to tip the scales in favour of drivers at the expense of non-drivers – unless you are also proposing contributions to bus, train and taxi fares.

Actually, despite the huge cost of parking at Guildford, I have a bigger problem with the fact that there is not enough of it. If you have a 9am appointment there is no point turning up at 8:50 because you will not get parked for 20-30 minutes. Replacing the sprawling surfacce car parks with a multi-storey would help, although that would be a huge cost.

As it happens, we try to go to Guildford or Redhill by motorbike whenever possible and only take the car if I am going to be unable to ride. Crawley I can cycle to or take the scooter. I’m fortunate that my incentive for that is the convenience rather than the price, but if Jayne and I both took the bus it would cost a tenner and you would have to be there for ages to rack up that much in car parking.

I’m rambling a bit here, but please do complain about high levels of parking charges, but think about the implications of free parking as a subsidy for people who, on balance, can afford it. I have always thought that if you can’t afford the fuel, tax and parking for a car then you have spent too much on the car in the first place. Ditch the Chesea tractor and get a Fiesta if you can’t afford to park the thing!


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