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How CBD parking is becoming more expensive

4 min read
2 Nov 2018

As if getting across bumper to bumper traffic around the country’s CBDs wasn’t bad enough, it’s now been revealed motorists are being slugged more for parking than ever.

A new RACQ report shows hourly parking rates have increased by almost $10 in the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne metros in the last eight years.

The survey also revealed the cities flashing the most expensive parking. Brisbane overtook Sydney for the highest average weekday hourly parking rate of $28.71 across CBD car parks. The one-hour parking rate for Sydney was $28.42, while Melbourne was markedly cheaper at $21.54.

Brisbane’s off-street hourly rate increased by 1.4% since 2017, and 1.7% for two hours, well above inflation.

The River City also recorded the highest average weekday 30-minute parking at $16.98, versus Sydney and Melbourne which both dropped in price to $12.50 and $9.41 respectively.

The Sydney CBD came out as the most expensive from two-hour parking and over, with prices doubling the one hour rate to $56.66 for two hours, compared with $46.64 in Brisbane and $42.62 in Melbourne.

At this rate, catching an Uber to the city and back might be a cheaper alternative.

Sydneysiders are also paying more for four-hour weekday parking, recording an average cost of $76.86, with Melbourne charging $69.09 and Brisbane $68.57 for four hours.

Lastly, Sydney takes the crown for dearest eight-hour weekday parking (max rate) charging motorists $77.74 per day, followed by Brisbane with $72.52 and Melbourne at $70.52. That means, over two-thirds of the average daily cost of all-day parking is accrued in the first two hours.

In terms of on-street parking, the Brisbane CBD actually came out on top with the lowest rates at $4.90 per hour, while Melbourne recorded $7.00 and Sydney CBD $7.20 per hour.

Why is parking so expensive in CBDs?

Car parks have become a prized commodity in big cities. So much so, that in 2016, a two-car space on Sydney’s Bond Street, was listed for sale for a cool $400,000, over a third of the city’s median house price. More people are visiting, living and working in CBDs, while car parks are becoming scarce, so when demand outstrips supply- prices go up.

This trend is showing no signs of slowing down. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), employment in the Brisbane CBD is expected to reach 467,197 people by 2031, a growth of 160,754 from 2011.

The Victorian Government introduced a congestion levy in 2005, to reduce traffic in Melbourne by charging an extra tax on off-street car parking spaces, so car park operators reacted by hiking up prices. Calls have been made for the Queensland Government to follow suit with its own congestion levy for Brisbane, while Sydney has had its own traffic tax since 1992.

Most off-street car parks in CBDs are privately owned, so operators essentially have free will to set their own fees. The RACQ suggests the lack of competition is also behind the rise in parking prices. As a rule of thumb, council-owned car parks are cheaper.

CBD parking rates- 2010-2018

Source: RACQ (2018)

Five tips on how to save on parking

  1. Take advantage of early bird specials (entry before 9am).
  2. Obtain discounts by pre-booking a car park online.
  3. Take public transport when you can or carpool with friends or colleagues.
  4. Get tech savvy: apps like Kerb show car parks available in real time with prices, while Divvy connects drivers with listers of available parking spots in commercial buildings or apartment blocks.
  5. Plan ahead: if you work in the CBD, investing in a monthly parking pass could save you big bucks.

Cheap off-street car parks in Brisbane CBD

Car parkCasual parking price
123 Albert St Car ParkFrom $3
119 Charlotte St Car ParkFrom $5
AM60 Car ParkFrom $5
Gold Tower, 10 Eagle Street Car ParkFrom $5
Waterfront Place Porte Cochere Car ParkFrom $5


Cheap off-street car parks in Sydney CBD

Car parkCasual parking price
Citigroup Centre Car ParkFrom $0
383 Kent St Car ParkFrom $5
Citipark Car ParkFrom $5
Angel Place Car ParkFrom $5
The Domain Car ParkFrom $6


Cheap off-street car parks in Melbourne CBD

Car parkCasual parking price
485 La Trobe St Car ParkFrom $5
62 La Trobe St Car ParkFrom $5
T&G Building – 161 Collins St Car ParkFrom $6
11 Exhibition St Car ParkFrom $6
Scots Church StFrom $6
N.B. Prices current as of October 2018.



  • RACQ- Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne CBD Off-street Casual Parking Prices (2018).
  • State Revenue Office Victoria- Car Parks (2018).
  • Brisbane City Council- Invest in Brisbane Inner City (ABS statistics).
  • Parking Australia – The biggest challenges facing the parking industry (2016).
  • Secure Parking-Parking Solutions (2018).
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avatar of author: Megan Birot

Written by Megan Birot

Megan considers herself a savvy saver. She aims to make finance fun and inspire people to make decisions best suited to their budget and lifestyle. Her number one tip is: “saving doesn’t have to be boring, get creative and reap the rewards.” Megan has a background in journalism and particularly loves to write about health and money. She hopes to one day pen a best-selling book but the topic is a well-guarded secret.

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