Parking prices in private parking lots in Athens are very high compared to other European capitals, which is paradoxical if you consider how much more widespread the use of cars is in our country.
Specifically, for the first hour of parking in a private space in the center of Athens at noon on a weekday, drivers are forced to pay from 7 to 16 euros!
At the same time, in cities like Berlin, Rome or Paris, prices are much lower. In the center of Berlin, for example, we find private parking lots that charge from 2 to 4 euros per hour. In Rome, the corresponding service costs 4-7 euros on average, while in Paris the prices range, in most places, around 6-8 euros per hour.
The prices in Lisbon are much lower, close to 2-3 euros/hour, while in Madrid they are around 3-5 euros/hour. In Barcelona the cost near the tourist center is much higher, around 15-20 euros. Finally, the cost for one hour of parking in a private space in the center of Prague amounts to 50 to 60 crowns (2.50 to 3 euros).
The very frequent use of cars by the residents and visitors of the center of Athens, combined with the lack of enough – and especially large in capacity – parking spaces have obviously sent parking prices skyrocketing, following the law of supply and demand. In fact, according to the Global Parking Index for 2022, Athens is in fifth place across Europe in off-street parking prices according to purchasing power, behind London, Amsterdam and Paris.
Overall as a country, Greece is the second most expensive country for off-street parking in the European Union, depending on the purchasing power of citizens. Purchasing power plays an important role in the comparison, since, in nominal dollar terms, two hours of parking in Russia costs around $18. But this honor is for a Russian. For someone paying in euros, the cost is just 0.55 euros.
In the islands
The unreal prices observed in the summer in parking lots on islands that are popular tourist destinations contribute to this result, where parking costs can reach 75-80 euros for one day. In Thessaloniki, prices are lower than in Athens and are around 4-5 euros for one hour of parking in the city center.
“The problem of high prices is observed mainly in the small plots where cars are parked in the center of Athens, in the large parking lots the prices are more normal” underlines transport expert Konstantinos Kouretas speaking to “NEA”. “The management of parking in urban centers is a key pillar of transport and traffic management” he says and emphasizes that “there must be strategic planning to address the issue, with serious cost-benefit weighing studies”.
Athens' municipal parking, however, is considerably cheaper than most European cities. For visitors, the maximum allowed parking time is 3 hours and parking fees are 50 minutes for half an hour parking and increase by 50 minutes per half hour, up to the second hour where it is 2 euros. For parking for two and a half hours the user must pay 4 euros and for three hours 6 euros.
As the transport expert notes, “in Greece we are not used to paying for parking”. Even if in the center of Athens most places on the side of the pavement are for controlled parking or reserved exclusively for residents, violations are very common. “Priority should be given to clearing the sidewalks of illegally parked cars, especially in areas and places where there is a safety issue, such as schools,” notes K. Kouretas.
Discounts for electrics, extra charges for SUVs
At the same time in Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo opens a new front of confrontation with motorists by tripling the parking price for SUVs (over 1.6 tons for non-electric ones, over 2 tons for electric ones), from 6 at 18 euros per hour. The cost remains at 6 euros per hour in the central Paris apartments, while it is reduced to 4 euros in the “outer” apartments of the city. The trend is similar in London, where parking for 1 hour costs 7.20 pounds (8.40 euros) for a diesel car, while the cost drops to 5 pounds for an electric vehicle. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, even told the Guardian that London could copy Paris in charging extra for bulky cars if the measure proves to be effective.
In central Berlin, municipal parking costs 1-2 euros per hour, depending on the city zone. In Rome, municipal parking is free for electric cars, with a charge of just €1-1.20 in certain areas for diesel cars. In Lisbon municipal parking costs 1.60 euros per hour, in Madrid it is 2.05 euros per hour and in Barcelona it is 2.70 euros/hour. In the center of Prague the price is around 3 euros (40-60 Czech crowns) per hour, while Amsterdam is the most expensive city to park on the street in the city center at 7.50 euros per hour.
According to Constantinos Kouretas, however, the bet for Athens must be to reduce dependence on the car, which will also lead to a reduction in car ownership, which currently stands at 0.9 vehicles/person. “The increase in parking costs works as a disincentive for car users, but – as the example of our city shows – it is not capable of achieving results if it does not come hand in hand with good alternatives” concludes the transportation expert.
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