On-street parking rates zoom in Swiss cities
The cost of parking is increasing in many Swiss cities as municipalities struggle to deal with rising traffic and clogged roads, resulting in visitors and residents paying higher prices to leave their vehicles in busy urban centres.
Geneva is the latest city to announce an intention to boost the cost of parking passes in residential areas.
A working group for the canton’s general transport management (DGT) is looking at various scenarios to raise the price of the annual pass, currently set at 200 francs, which is well below that for most Swiss cities.
“Modifications seem necessary because the Geneva parking passes (known as “macarons”) are among the cheapest in Switzerland and below the average price of 355 francs,” Chrystelle Charat, chief of the DGT working group told the 20 Minutes newspaper.
Many Geneva residents live in apartments without parking and those with vehicles have to park on the street in areas that are marked with blue lines, under a system adopted by most Swiss cities.
Motorists with an annual pass can park in the blue zones at any time while visitors can park there during the day for only a limited period — usually 90 minutes — by using a parking disc that indicates arrival times.
Visiting motorists who overstay their limit can expect a hefty fine, with parking police regularly making the rounds.
The alternative for visitors is to use paid underground parking in municipal facilities dotted around the city or metered parking, where it is available.
Residents also have the option of obtaining passes for one of the canton's 17 underground public parking lots if they live within 300 metres of the facilities.
But the rates average more than 2,000 francs a year.
Nyon, a city 26 kilometres to the east of Geneva in the canton of Vaud, made headlines recently after it decided last month to hike its annual street parking pass to 960 francs.
That’s almost five times the rate in Geneva and more than three times the 300-franc fee in Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city.
Nyon municipal councillor Elisabeth Ruey-Ray told media the higher rates were needed to counter the “perverse” effects of lower parking fees.
For example, she said there was a risk that residents with underground parking who rent out their spaces and take advantage of cheaper on-street parking.
The municipality is also having to deal with an influx of commuters from the region who park in the city all day so they can take the train to locations such as Geneva or Lausanne for work.
Nyon appears to have one of the highest annual street parking fees, if not the highest in the country.
But other municipalities in the Lake Geneva region have also raised their rates.
In the municipality of Gland, the rate is 840 francs, for example.
In Lausanne, an on-street parking pass will set you back 500 francs for the year.
Owners of motorbikes have been able to escape parking fees, although the city of Basel in 2013 introduced fees for the two-wheelers and other cities are following suit.
It is still possible to park on the streets for free overnight or on Sundays in most Swiss cities — if you can find a space — but otherwise the days of free car parking are long gone.