IT WAS FREE THIS YEAR: Parking and traffic for Bluesfest 2017 at Tyagarah.
IT WAS FREE THIS YEAR: Parking and traffic for Bluesfest 2017 at Tyagarah. Marc Stapelberg

The reason why Bluesfest introduced paid parking

DOCUMENTS tabled with Byron Shire Council have shed light on the real reason why Bluesfest organisers decided to introduce paid parking at next year's event.

Organisers have declined to comment on the issue, but the traffic management plan - which was lodged with the council and is available online - reveals some of the background behind the change.

The document states that Bluesfest was introducing paid parking for the 2019 event "to offset the significant annual investment into parking infrastructure capital and recurrent, mounting costs of Traffic Management, increased User Pays Police contingent for Counter Terrorism Including Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Measures".

The Northern Star requested information from NSW Police about the charges projected for Bluesfest 2019 in regards to counter terrorism and other services, but no details have been provided yet.

The document submitted by Bluesfest to the council also explains that patrons will pre-purchase their parking tickets online.

"And a new team of staff will be employed to scan and check patrons parking tickets for the correct days," the report states.

"Their tickets will be scanned by hand held devices.

"The parking team will only approach cars for their pre-paid ticket once they have been directed to a parking bay."

Patrons that have not pre-purchased a ticket before they arrive, which Bluesfest expects to be "a "small number", will have the chance to purchase one on the spot from paid parking staff.

"The method of collection will be a combination of a credit card tap device or a cash payment and that will be indicated to our patrons before they arrive," the plan stated.

"Card will be encouraged, and we will have campaigns around this message.

"Extra signage at entrance points to the festival site will also reinforce what to expect on parking their vehicles.

"Staff and contractors will be supplied with a sticker and or identification pass that will allow them to park straight away and not incur the paid parking fee."

Although the information is only on their website, and no public comments have been provided to the media, the plan states that organisers will deploy "ample information campaigns commencing before we go on sale", whilst we are on sale and during the festival.

"We will notify patrons of this new initiative of the festival via our online EDM's, Facebook page, Instagram page, SMS campaigns and side of stage screens," the plan stated.

"We will provide them with detailed information on how to pre-purchase and what occurs if they do not pre-purchase.

"At any point during a peak flow period if the Paid Parking Initiative impacts on the traffic flow it will be suspended until It is deemed practical to continue.

"We believe this initiative is beneficial for the smoother running, financial bottom line and safety of our festival."

Festival patrons are not happy about confirmation that paid parking will be introduced for the 2019 event.

The festival's forum page is where many loyal patrons have vented their anger.

"This is the worst thing Bluesfest has done, just a total price gouge for already expensive gig. To go from zero to a minimum $125 for five day pass holders, without announcing anything is a disgrace to all ticket holders. And by NOT or mentioning it anything on tickets or anywhere to what has always been a free parking event, so unaware punters will rock up unawares and then pay an extra $250... that is reprehensible," posted user Smokocw.

Many complained that threads about the issue were being deleted by the forum's moderator.

"In the first deleted thread the bluesfestadmin straight up admitted it was because they pay $400,000 for the parking and they don't want to subsidise it any more - their words. They also had a little complain about the user-pays police policy. Sounds like they're just trying to a) make more profit and b) offload the problem to nearby towns so they don't have to pay for it," said user Sagewah000.

"Take a bus? Are you joking? Even more expense? And then have to be subjected to bus queues that will likely swell beyond all expectations?

"It is the most poorly thought-out expense to loyal fans and all fans for that matter that has occurred in 30 years."

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