English councils made a record £819 million from their parking operations in the last financial year - 10 per cent higher than the year before.
The 2016-17 figure is 40 per cent higher than the £587 million made in 2012-13, and £377 million above what councils themselves had forecast for the year.
The findings come from an analysis for the RAC Foundation by transport consultant David Leibling of the official returns that councils make annually to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
In 2016-17, the 353 local authorities in England had a total income from on- and off-street parking activities of £1.582 billion - up six per cent year-on-year. This comprised both parking charges and penalty income.
At the same time, the councils spent £763 million on running their parking operations - up two per cent year-on-year.
The difference between income and expenditure, £819 million, is the surplus or ‘profit’ available to be spent on transport locally.
Although most councils made a surplus on their parking activities, 13 per cent reported negative numbers.
Once again the largest surpluses were seen in London with the 33 London boroughs making £379 million between them - 46 per cent of the total.
Westminster had the largest surplus at £73.2 million, and Kensington & Chelsea came second with £32.2 million and Camden with £26.8 million.
The biggest profits outside of London were reported by Brighton & Hove and Milton Keynes and Birmingham.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The upward path in profits is in part a reflection of the record number of cars and volume of traffic.
“The silver lining for drivers is that these surpluses must almost exclusively be ploughed back into transport and as any motorist will tell you there is no shortage of work to be done.
“We welcome the fact that councils are increasingly investing in technology to help make parking easier and less stressful. Westminster, for example, has created an app which directs drivers to free parking bays, helping to end the motoring misery of prowling the streets looking for a space.
“We urge motorists to take the time to read their own local authority’s parking report so they can see both the rationale for charges in their area and how the surplus is being spent.”