Although the Municipality of Riga has set a target to reduce the number of cars in the city centre, it does not solve essentially the problems caused by the traffic flow. The State Audit Office has concluded that the municipality does not have unified approaches to parking issues: the streets of the centre of Riga have been overloaded for a long time and the number of road traffic accidents is also increasing.
The audit found that the construction of new parking spaces does not increase the possibility of parking the car, but the pricing policy of paid parking places does not facilitate the release the city centre from cars. Currently, the only Park&Ride parking lot is not actually used. The use of the money collected for paid parking places in the amount of more than 9 million euros reaches the total budget of SIA “Rīgas satiksme” and is not traceable in accounting.
In the Old Town cars are increasingly being parked
The municipality claims that demand for paid car parks in the centre of Riga by 10 to 15% exceeds supply, but the fee is set with the aim of reducing the number of cars in the city centre. The amount of the fee is set without any cost calculation of maintaining and managing the parking spaces. In its audit, the State Audit Office concluded that the use of paid car parks in the A, B and R tariff zones is increasing. For example, in the R tariff zone in Old Riga, compared to 2015, in 2017 the number of parking places increased by 41%.
One million euros do not solve the problem of relieving inner courtyards
Free parking spaces are created in housing estates for solving parking problems, and over one million euros have been spent on the creation of ten such car parks over three years. However, it has also not helped to solve the urban parking problems: 84% of free parking spaces built in housing estates do not increase the possibility of parking.
The “Five Minute Free Principle” is not respected
The audit concludes that parking lot users who use text messaging or mobile applications to pay for parking have paid around EUR 165,000 for parking for up to 5 minutes over three years, although the Riga City Council has determined that parking is allowed for free for up to 5 minutes. The municipality, together with SIA “Rīgas satiksme” has to specify the procedure for the application of the fee, so that the users of the parking lots can easily use the intended possibility to use the paid parking spaces temporarily for free.
The goals of Park&Ride have not been achieved
Studies and recommendations show that the establishment of parking lots outside the city centre can reduce the traffic flow further in the city, but so far “park and ride” or Park&Ride system in the capital is not developed. Riga’s only parking lot at 13 Ulbrokas Street has been “place and drive” for four years and has been used only 28 times, and the cars are mostly placed by residents of nearby buildings. There is no convenient public transport flow to the centre of the park, which would be more beneficial than private transport and could compete with it.
9 million – not traceable
In 2016 and 2017, the revenue of the paid parking lots of SIA “Rīgas satiksme”, a municipal car park manager, was over EUR 23 million. These funds can be used for the development of parking lots in accordance with the local authority delegation. However, as all income from paid car parks to SIA “Rīgas satiksme” reaches the general budget of the capital company, then, because of the undivided accounting, auditors were unable to make sure that more than 9 million euros were actually spent for the intended purpose – development of parking lots.