Last month, EuroPark increased rates an average of 30 pecent at nine of its parking lots in the heart of Tallinn, citing high demand as grounds for doing so. Tallinn City Center District Elder Vladimir Svet (Center) said that rates at private parking lots are shaped by the market and that city authorities cannot regulate them.
EuroPark CEO Karol Kovanen told ERR that they do not have universal rates across all of their lots, explaining that the company sets the rates at each parking lot according to demand in order to ensure free parking spaces as well as earn property owners optimal revenue.
If one or another parking lot ends up full, the company then regulates lot occupancy via rates. As Tallinn's city center has a very dense network of parking lots, price-sensitive clients will certainly find a parking lot with the same or even lower rate just a few steps away, Kovanen said. Those in a hurry, however, will be prepared to pay more for parking in popular lots.
EuroPark increased prices at nine of its lots in the heart of the city, but the CEO stressed that prices at the majority of their 200 paid lots did not change.
"We didn't change our monthly parking rates, only either our hourly or 24-hour rates," he explained. "The increase was 30 percent on average. This may seem like a lot as a percent, but it isn't for a single client and time parking. If someone parks a couple of times a week at an hourly rate of €1.60 and now the price is €2.00, that is totally bearable. The value of typical parking with us is €3.00."
The maximum fine at EuroPark has remained unchanged at €30 for over ten years already.
Kovanen noted that as real estate development has intensified, inexpensive parking options in temporary lots have decreased in number. He predicted that once the Juhkentali 1 lot across from Hotel Olümpia is closed for the construction of a new development soon, the number of parking spaces in Tallinn's city center will be reduced by another couple hundred, and this significant of a reduction in spaces will have a direct impact on parking rates in the capital city.
"On the one hand, these temporary lots have long been an eyesore, but on the other, they have ensured affordable parking opportunities for a lot of people," he said. "This period is drawing to a close."
According to Kovanen, however, it is still significantly cheaper to park long-term in a EuroPark lot than on city streets.
EuroPark currently operates 380 parking lots in Estonia offering a total of more than 25,000 parking spaces.
Svet: Rates at private lots shaped by market
Tallinn City Center District Elder Vladimir Svet (Center) told ERR that the city cannot regulate rates at private parking lots, as these are located on private property, and rates are shaped by the market.
"I have seen some kind of accusations that the City of Tallinn is fostering this increase in rates," Svet said. "This is very strange to hear; it is a free market, and of course private parking lot owners will look at what the city's parking rates are, but if they hike their own rates, then it follows that they just want to earn higher revenues. And this rate increase obviously shows that demand exists as well."
Svet said that he believes that Tallinn's City Center District has good enough transport connections and that several new bike lanes will be built within the next couple of years, which will lead to offices in the city center becoming places where employees prefer to commute to work via public transport, bike or by foot.
"It is very good that discussion of this issue has begun, because Tallinn's old source document for parking has expired and a new parking strategy is currently being drawn up," the city district elder said. "The City Center government will stand to ensure that next period, when this strategy enters into effect, it encourages a reduction in motorization in the city center."
What he also wants to see is that, going forward, real estate developers aren't required to provide a minimum number of parking spaces per apartment or gross area, but rather are given a cap instead. That way, people slated to begin working in offices located in new developments would know to plan to commute via public transport or other forms of transport that don't involved driving their own cars.
According to Svet, however, it is too soon to say yet whether or not this new parking strategy would mean rate increases in city-owned lots as well.
"It's not a question of whether we need to increase parking rates on city streets, but rather whether we need to stick to the same system under which parking is paid in the city center and Old Town zones or whether we should start considering it another way somehow," he said, adding that the initial studies needed for the new strategy are currently being conducted.
Editor: Aili Vahtla