The days of people using Wollongong station car park for free all-day parking could be coming to an end.
While station car parks are created for commuters who plan on catching a train, plenty of people who work nearby choose to use them as free parking.
The four-storey car park at Wollongong station is notorious for seeing city workers taking up a number of the 361 free spots.
According to Transport for NSW a study in 2016 found that 23 per cent of people using the Wollongong station car park were not catching public transport.
That figure climbed to 29 per cent – or almost one in three cars – on Saturday and Sunday.
The NSW government is launching a trial of new technology that could well put an end to free all-day parking at Wollongong and other stations.
It is building six new car parks totalling 900 parking spaces along a new bus route in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
The first car parks are expected to open at Dee Why and Brookvale.
What is different about these car parks is that they will work with commuters’ Opal cards.
Commuters will use their Opal card to leave the parking station.
If they have tapped on and off public transport during the time their car has been parked, then they will get up to 18 hours of free parking.
People who are not commuting will still be able to park at the car parks but will be charged an appropriate commercial rate for the area.
“Up to 46 per cent of people in some areas who are using commuter car parks don’t end up on public transport and this trial is designed to make sure that it is genuine customers who benefit from these facilities,” said Manly MP James Griffin.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said the trial of the new Northern Beaches Opal-activated car parks was expected to last for as long as 18 months.
While not specifically stating the Wollongong train station car park was line in to become Opal-activated if the trial proved a success, the Transport for NSW spokesman said the technology “may be expanded to other parking facilities at train stations and bus stops”.
“The information gathered from this trial will be used to consider the implementation of controlled access at existing and new commuter car parks across the network,” the Transport for NSW spokesman said.
If introduced more widely, it is expected that the Opal-activated technology would only be used in enclosed multi-storey car parks like the one at Wollongong.
It is unlikely the technology could be used in outdoor car parks, which feature at most train stations in the Illawarra.