In most big Sydney CBD companies, a car space is a sign that you’ve made it. In my company, and the last company I worked for, the most senior executives are entitled to a car space. They are allocated strictly by rank, and neither the cost, nor the Fringe Benefits Tax that the company has to pay on top, is charged to the employee. It is one of the trappings of heirarchy that annoys me the most.
Because it is such a privilege of rank, there are very few senior executives who don’t use it. Once you’ve got to that exalted status, you have to use the car space, just to show how important you are. And so far more people drive into the city than would do so if there was no status attached to doing so.
Ten years ago I worked for a company, in the CBD, which made no effort to buy or manage car spaces for its employees. And so only two of the 150 people who worked there parked in our building. When you have to pay for it yourself, and there is no status attached, the equation changes.
I’m not sure if even a congestion charge on the CBD streets would change this; the only way to change it would be for the Sydney City Council to stop letting companies put parking into every new building. If the spaces had to be more seriously rationed, then companies would probably start charging for them, as any economist would expect them to do.
It is easy for me to scoff; I hate driving, and I live close enough to the city that public transport is mostly just as fast as driving. But if our senior corporate citizens caught public transport on a regular basis (and our senior beauracrats, who also have the same rank based parking privileges) I suspect public transport would work a bit better.