'Repugnant' - Wilson Parking slammed by Wellington regional councillors for ad warning people off 'crowded public transport'

Three Greater Wellington Regional Council representatives have expressed disdain for a Wilson Parking advertising seemingly warning people off using public transport.

Source: 1 NEWS

The radio ad, carried on NZME stations including Newstalk ZB, encourages people to "skip crowded public transport" in favour of driving to work and parking at their facilities.

"Keep your bubble safe, skip crowded public transport," the ad says.

"Driving to the office keeps your exposure down."

Despite that wording, a spokesperson for the company insists that the ads do not suggest that public transport is unsafe.

"Such a claim has not been made, and in fact Wilson Parking fully supports the use of public transport as one of a range of modes for the daily commute," they said.

Councillor Thomas Nash accused the company of "using misinformation during a pandemic to undermine an essential public service in the pursuit of private gain from what is, quite frankly, climate sabotage," and labelled their actions "repugnant".

Writing on The Spinoff, Mr Nash said "the car parking company looks to be deliberately stoking fears about using public transport and undermining people’s confidence in the system.

"This is at a time when the regional transport agency, Metlink, has spent weeks diligently applying all of the measures recommended by the Ministry of Health to make buses and trains safe.

"It's simply not true that public transport is crowded right now - trains and buses have been running smoothly, with physical distancing on board and stringent cleaning measures.

"Metlink is monitoring capacity and redeploying vehicles in response to any potential pinch points on the network."

Mr Nash called for Wilson Parking to remove their advertisements from the radio.

Fellow councillor Roger Blakely also took aim at the parking company, writing that "Wilson is falsely claiming that it is unsafe to use public transport - Wrong!

"We have full physical distancing in place," Mr Blakely wrote.

"They also claim it is lower cost to use car parking than PT - wrong again!

"Self interest 'trumps' public good."

Ken Laban, another regional councillor, gave Wilson Parking his "Muppet of the Week Award", writing that "if we want to live in a clean environment its simple - catch the bus!"

GWRC oversees the capital's public transport network.

A spokesperson for Wilson Parking denied that its ads suggested public transport is unsafe, and insisted they were only promoting "responsible travel".

"Wilson's message is entirely consistent with official recommendations to avoid crowded transportation.

"The radio advertising segment currently running through NZME radio network emphasises the reduced barriers to driving in the current environment.

"We are simply promoting driving as an alternative and safe way to commute.

"Wilson Parking does not claim to make parking cheaper than public transportation - the advertisement points out that low petrol prices and reduced rates for parking make driving an accessible option for commuters.

"We are well aware of the seriousness of the health issue and believe that driving to work is an effective social distancing tool during this time."

It would not be pulling the advertisement.