Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yes, parking reform can be entertaining! Thanks, Streetfilms and ITDP.

Yes, parking reform can be entertaining! Thanks, Streetfilms and ITDP.
What is wrong with basing your parking policy on on-site parking requirements (also known as parking minimums, standards or norms)?  And is there another way?

This video from Streetfilms and ITDP explains.


PARKING: Searching for the Good Life in the City from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

In under 5 minutes, using a cute mix of animation and footage from cities around the world, it entertainingly captures why and how to reform parking supply policy away from parking minimums.

It starts with a North American/USA focus but then has strong international relevance and mentions many international cities from about 2 minutes in.

This video is an excellent resource to introduce anyone to the basics of off-street parking policy reform.

Please take a look.


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Monday, June 16, 2014

Is Budapest in the demand-responsive parking pricing club?

Is Budapest in the demand-responsive parking pricing club?
This post shares my efforts (so far) to understand Budapest's on-street parking price setting system and to find out if it uses a demand-responsive approach.

During the 2000s, this city of 1.7 million people (3.3 million in the metropolitan area) brought its on-street parking under much stronger control after a period of utter chaos.

I was reminded of the Budapest example by this sentence in ITDP's Parking Guidebook for Chinese Cities (p. 14):
"Budapest, San Francisco, and Seattle impose or increase on-street parking fees when demand is such that the space taken up by parked vehicles regularly exceeds a certain percentage of the street length."
This sure suggests a demand-responsive approach to price setting.

Is Budapest's on-street parking pricing REALLY a case of demand-responsive pricing (also called performance pricing)?

I thought so, based on various things I had heard. But I wanted confirmation. The one-page case study on Budapest in the same ITDP report has this:
The committee has established four parking zones in the city; prices vary between zones based on density, transportation system capacity, and documented parking occupancy.
Hmm. That doesn't sound like a purely demand-responsive price-setting approach, although it still suggests occupancy is an important criterion.
From a presentation by Zoltán Gyarmati at ITDP's 2011 Transport Systems Summit

I set out to look for more detail.  

English language searches didn't turn up anything new. So translating searches into Hungarian was the next step.  This led me to a search for the Hungarian terms "Budapest foglaltsága telítettség parkoló" (Budapest saturation occupancy parking) among others.

Some interesting events in 2010! 

The national government amended the national Traffic Law in 2010 after the Constitutional Court annulled the November 2009 municipal parking regulations, threatening the legal basis for Budapest's parking pricing.

The amendment (if I understand correctly) featured these new constraints on municipality's parking fees:
  • Required a 70% saturation trigger for on-street charging. In other words, the average occupancy for an area needs to be 70% or more for charging to be warranted at all. However, this does not apply to existing locations with priced on-street parking.
  • The maximum on-street fee was capped at double the previous year's average petrol price per litre. For perspective, gasoline currently costs about Euro 1.37 (415 Florints) in Hungary. 

Some clues that maybe prices are demand-responsive

The amendments above were criticised by environmental NGOs, who explicitly advocated using a 15% vacancy target. Aha! A sign that demand-responsive pricing was part of the debate on parking prices in Budapest in 2010 at least!

Aha again! A government spokesperson mentioned occupancy targets in an article on the debate leading up to the amendment: 
He added that the parking areas are categorized according to the saturation of the four categories accordingly 70, 80, saturation above 90 percent, or over 70 per cent saturation and road damage caused by the highly protected area.  (as rendered from Hungarian by Google translate)
This seems to be a reference to the existing practice. It strongly suggests that occupancy is crucial for something!

However ...

Budapest's May 2009 parking policy, which is a long document with many details, doesn't say anything on occupancy targets. Hmm. 

It does say that parking fees overall are based on multipliers of the public transport fare (see page 17). Each zone's price equals this base public transport fare times a special factor for that zone. When public transport fares change, so do parking fees. You can see a suggestion of this in the table next to the price map above.

There are also time-limits in most priced zones, with the highest-priced zones having 3-hour time limits for parking.

Maybe demand determines the zone boundaries and the price multipliers?

This was the suggestion above. If so, we might still have a case of demand-responsive pricing here.

I found an April 2013 example of an extension of the priced area, which was proposed in 2011 and based on occupancy. But I guess this merely shows the 70% occupancy-based trigger in action.

But compare the price zone map above (which seems to be from 2009 or 2010) with the 2013 one below. There do seem to be some small changes in boundaries in the northern third of the map.

Budapest's 2013 pricing zone map via http://www.futas.net/hungary/Budapest/budapest-parkolas.html


This suggests that data is probably driving minor changes.

So, even with the fee levels set with reference to public transport fares, and even with a cap based on double the recent gasoline price average, it is still possible that occupancy is a key factor in the price levels in each zone and the boundaries between zones.

The zone adjustments and the clues from the 2010 debate above do suggest that this may be the case.

But I wish I could find something explicit on how it works.

Preliminary conclusion: Budapest is not exactly Shoup-style demand-responsive pricing but its price zone adjustments may rely on occupancy data to some extent. 

Budapest has an interesting approach to setting its on-street parking prices.  And the 2010 national law makes occupancy central to decisions on extending on-street pricing.  

Occupancy seems to be an important element in its pricing zone decisions.  If this process is methodical and explicit then maybe Budapest is a member of the demand-responsive parking pricing club.

But I am not completely sure yet.

Can anyone shed further light on this?

Is an occupancy target range the primary factor (or even a big factor) in the price zone decisions? How exactly does it work?
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Calgary's demand-responsive on-street parking pricing

Calgary's demand-responsive on-street parking pricing
Did you know that the Canadian prairie city of Calgary has adopted the "Shoupista" policy of demand-responsive on-street parking pricing?

Starting January 2014, in Calgary's central area
... on-street rates will be reviewed annually using ParkPlus data. Rates will be adjusted by a maximum of $0.25 per year according to demand. Specifically:
  • In areas where occupancy is below 50%, prices will decrease by $0.25;
  • In areas where occupancy is above 80%, prices will increase by $0.25;
  • In areas where occupancy is between 50-80%, prices will stay the same.
Was there much controversy about this? If so, I missed it.

There has been one initial price adjustment so far in which some prices went down $0.25, some up $0.25 while some remained the same, depending on the demand in each time period for each area. See this set of maps (pdf) for details. 



Prices vary among modest-sized zones, not from block to block, as in SFPark.

To give an idea of scale, the large  island at the bend in the river is about 1 km from east to west. So the price zones here are often about 500 metres or less across.

The time periods that can have different prices for the same location are:  Weekdays: 09:00 – 11:00, Weekdays: 11:00 – 13:30; Weekdays: 13:30– 15:30; Weekdays 15:30 – 18:00; and Saturdays 9:00 – 18:00.

See also their interactive map showing occupancies and (with a click) the prices for each location.

Do readers have additional insights on how this is going so far? Did all of these locations already have priced parking before this initiative?
1 comment

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Japan's proof-of-parking rule has an essential twin policy

Japan's proof-of-parking rule has an essential twin policy
As you may know, Japanese law requires motorists to prove they have access to a local parking space. To register a car, or when changing address, motorists need to obtain a "parking space certificate" ("garage certificate" or "Shako shomei sho") from local police. If you are curious, look at Kanagawa's English instructions on how to obtain the certificate.

This rule is fascinating. It seems important. It might even be a useful model for others.

But please understand that the proof-of-parking rule does not stand alone. It has an essential twin policy.

This is what a "shako shomei" or parking place certificate looks like
(via farmofminds dot com)
The rule was enacted in 1962 and initially applied only to the large cities, according to a footnote on page 243 of "Local Government in Japan" by Kurt Steine (1965). However, it now seems to apply much more widely.

Proof-of-parking's twin: a ban on overnight parking in the streets

Under Japan's 1957 Parking Law on-street parking is actually generally banned!

It allows for "temporary" exceptions however. These have persisted for more than 57 years now.These exceptions allow for some daytime and evening on-street parking, not overnight parking. (For more information on the exceptions see this pdf by my collaborators in Japan.)

Parking meter parking in Tokyo.
For example, you will find a modest number of metered on-street parking spaces in Japanese cities. These have a 60 minute time limit. But, as the Japan Experience site advises,
"Beware, the police tolerates free parking in the evening (parking meters stop working at night), but after 3 am, ALL vehicles parked in parking meter car parks will be towed away."

In fact, my understanding from interviews in Tokyo in 2009 is that all-night parking in the streets is generally not allowed in Japan's cities.  Can anyone confirm this?

Ah, that's why Japan's proof-of-parking rule doesn't corrupt its police officers!

Some might say that Japanese police officers are uniquely incorruptible. I don't buy that.

In my view, the overnight parking ban is the key.

This is an important issue. Hanoi tried proof-of-parking but quickly abandoned it for fear of corruption. I wonder how it is going in the Indian states that have adopted it.

Yet, the policy has worked well in Japan for more than half a century and I cannot find reports of anyone cheating or bribing or lying to get a certificate. Can you?

Why should this be?

Because the ban on all-night parking makes it futile to cheat on the proof-of-parking rule.

Even if you did cheat to get your proof-of-parking certificate, where will you put your car? You still can't park overnight in the streets. Try it and your car would be towed within a day or two.

This explains why it is no big deal that an exception is made (in some areas) for tiny cars or "kei" cars, which have yellow license plates. Owners of these little cars may not need to prove access to a parking space but they still can't park in the streets overnight!

So, can others emulate proof-of-parking?

My argument implies that other places wanting to emulate Japan's proof-of-parking rule will need to find their own twin policy. They need something to play the role of the overnight parking ban, so that cheating becomes pointless. 

Basically, you would need very effective control over on-street parking and a very efficient parking permits system that avoids issuing too many permits. Not easy. And these steps can be prone to corruption problems too, of course. 

Simpler to just ban street parking as Japan did. Probably not an option for most other places but it might be in areas with very narrow streets. 

6 comments

Friday, May 9, 2014

When Parking Supply affects Relationships between Neighbours

I live on a narrow medieval street that feeds into the centre of a small dense city outside of Stuttgart, Germany (Esslingen, if you know the area). We moved to this street because of its cozy feel, cobble-stoned streets, and beautiful old timbered houses. We knew it wasn’t for everyone because houses are right on top of each other, leaving little space for sunrays to penetrate through windows. We can practically see the expressions on neighbors’ faces across the street. Still, it never occurred to me that parking might be a reason not to move here. Until my friend, who lives about 1.5 km away, quipped at me out of frustration when there was nowhere for her to park when she quickly stopped by, “You knew there was no parking when you moved here”. I sputtered something in defense of our choice of residence, but in reality, I had never really thought about it. As non-car owners, parking was simply not on our radar. After that, I noticed more instances where parking availability factored into major life choices. A woman who worked in downtown Stuttgart bragged to our assembled group that at her home in the suburbs she never had to search for parking. In unison, the group groaned out of envy.

I have come to learn that when parking spaces are limited, who owns one and how they are used can affect relationships between neighbors. We use the parking space that came with our apartment for bike parking--see video below to see how it works (and how kids see it as a toy). Most people who happen to be walking by when we access the bikes make some kind of comment (mostly positive) about our unusual use of the space. But one neighbour who saw the garage went to the police and complained that we are using a car parking space for bicycles when on-street parking is in such short supply. He thought we should be forced to use it for a car or lose our residential parking permit. He didn’t get very far since we don’t own a car and therefore don’t have a parking permit.



In discussions about parking, policies like parking minimums/maximums, supply levels, or parking prices are heavily debated. Unspoken in these debates are the myriad ways that policies can affect people’s lives or relationships. While such considerations may be superfluous to most policy discussions, they are highly relevant when deciding how to communicate parking policies. Parking policies have real implications for decisions like where we shop, how we visit our friends or relatives, or whether we see our neighbours as competitors for precious space.

In a world where parking is often seen as a right—as evidenced by my friend who questioned my judgement for moving to a street with limited parking—restrictive parking policies can push nerves as well as pocket books. Without a corresponding communication campaign to build support for an increase in parking prices or decrease in supply, resentment against the policies are sure to build. That’s why a better understanding of people’s travel routines can help to fine-tune communications campaigns that are aiming to increase support for more restrictive parking policies. For example, if a decrease in public parking supply due to an extension in residential parking zones will disproportionately inconvenience office workers it might be worthwhile to target a campaign at this group, explaining the reasons for the changes and pointing out alternatives relevant to them.

What are some best practices in the area of communication campaigns for parking policies? If so, do you have examples of communication campaigns around parking policy that tailored its message to a certain target group?
1 comment

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New contributors for Reinventing Parking!

New contributors for Reinventing Parking!
Today this site becomes a group blog after more than three years as a solo effort.

I hope we can make Reinventing Parking even more useful to you and become a key international forum for high quality insight on parking reform. 

First, a word of thanks to Seth Goodman of Graphing Parking (and one of our new authors) for his hard work to deliver this sleek new design. What do you think?

Let me introduce the initial team below. 

But before I do that, I should point out that, even though I will mention some affiliations below, we are all blogging here in an individual capacity, not on behalf of employers or organizations.

Stuart Donovan is based in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a contributor to Auckland's Transportblog and had a guest post here in 2012. He is a transport engineer and economist and has parking consulting experience across Australasia.

Shreya Gadepalli leads ITDP in India from her base in Chennai. She tells me she 'loves talking about parking reform', which is fortunate, because she has to do so more and more. She is one of a team of three from ITDP in India who plan to contribute here.

Seth Goodman is a designer and architect in Austin, Texas. He made a splash in the parking policy world in 2013 with the data-rich infographics at his Graphing Parking blog and will now continue those efforts at Reinventing Parking. He has also lived and worked in Bogotá, Colombia.

Zhan Guo in New York City is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Transportation Policy at NYU Wagner. His published work on parking has looked at connections between street design regulations and parking,  revealed fascinating insights into London's shift from minimums to maximums, and delved into the mysteries of residential parking in New York City, among other issues. He intends to be an occasional contributor.

Gabrielle Hermann lives near Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany. She was co-author of ITDP's report, "European Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation". Her recent academic work has moved on from parking but she hopes to be an occasional contributor offering insights into parking in Germany especially.

Advait Jani lives in Chennai, India where he is ITDP program coordinator. He and ITDP colleagues, Shreya and Chris, plan to contribute as a team on India parking issues.

Rutul Joshi is a columnist, blogger and Assistant Professor in Planning at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India. He advocates safer streets and better walking-cycling facilities in Indian cities. He provided invaluable help to my 'Parking Policy in Asian Cities' study for ADB.

Christopher Kost is based in Ahmedabad, India and a technical director with ITDP India, where he has worked since 2008. He completes the team of authors from ITDP India. Chris also helped the 'Parking Policy in Asian Cities' study in numerous ways.

Andrés Sañudo in Mexico City is Parking Policy Coordinator with ITDP Mexico and has been deeply involved with recent and ongoing parking reforms and research there. Just yesterday, he posted at the Transeunte blog (in Spanish) on a current parking meter controversy in Mexico City.

And of course I will still be here. If you are a regular reader you already know me, Paul Barter. I am an Australian who has lived in Southeast Asia since 1996 (Singapore since the end of 2000).

For more information see the author profiles page (currently a work in progress).

Any questions?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coming soon: relaunching Reinventing Parking as a group blog

Coming soon: relaunching Reinventing Parking as a group blog
It has been quiet here recently but there is action behind the scenes.

Reinventing Parking will be relaunching soon with new contributors from many different countries and with a new (and much better) design.

We are almost ready to go. So watch this space.


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Friday, February 21, 2014

Multi-city Latin America parking study now in English

Multi-city Latin America parking study now in English
Last year, I highlighted a Spanish-language report on parking in Latin America and its launch event in Bogotá.

Now the English-language version is out. Hooray!

The full title is: Practical Guidebook: Parking and Travel Demand Management Policies in Latin America.

You can download via ITDP's website and here is a direct link to the pdf (4MB).

The study was commissioned and coordinated by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and prepared by teams at Despacio of Colombia (Carlosfelipe Pardo, Carlos A. Moreno and Patricia Calderón Peña) and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy - ITDP (Michael Kodransky, Bernardo Baranda, Xavier Treviño and Andrés Sañudo).

As the title suggests, it is an excellent resource on TDM in the region, as well as on parking policy. It also has numerous clear and compelling infographics (by Claudio Olivares Medina).

The heart of the report is the set of case studies on 12 cities from 5 countries across the region and careful comparisons between them.

The case studies were prepared by the following people and organizations:
Argentina: Clara Rasore, Andrés Fingeret (ITDP Argentina), Gabriel Weitz, Mariel Figueroa (STS Rosario)
Brazil: Danielle Hoppe y Clarisse Linke (ITDP Brazil)
Chile: Claudio Olivares Medina (Despacio)
Colombia: Carlos A. Moreno, Jorge Iván Ballesteros, Dorancy González, Carlosfelipe Pardo y Dilia Lozano (Despacio)
México: Andrés Sañudo y Xavier Treviño (ITDP Mexico).
2 comments

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Want more parking? Careful what you wish for!

Want more parking? Careful what you wish for!
The #BlackFridayParking exercise was a striking crowd-sourced effort organized last week by the Strong Towns movement.

It highlighted the absurdly excessive parking supply around suburban retail in the United States. It thereby pokes fun at ludicrous minimum parking requirements.

One of the #BlackFridayParking photos via Strong Towns blog

Latin American cities please take note. South Asian and Southeast Asian cities please take note. Australia and New Zealand please take note. In fact, everywhere with parking minimums please take note! When it comes to parking, be careful what you wish for.

Strong Towns called for photos of retail parking lots on Black Friday to be shared via Twitter under the hashtag #BlackFridayParking.

The parking relevance of Black Friday, the day after the USA holiday of Thanksgiving, arises because this is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year in that country.

Parking requirements (at the centre of the conventional suburban approach to parking policy) aim to match the peak parking demand of the year (or nearly that level). And when is that peak parking demand? Black Friday!

So surely retail parking lots should fill up on Black Friday right? Wrong. 

Please read the Strong Towns blog post that debriefs after the event. It makes numerous excellent points.

And scroll down to the slideshow of photographs from the day. Image after image (70 of them) show huge expanses of empty parking around numerous retail outlets across the USA.

Charles Marohn brings home the key message:
If you want to build a strong town, get rid of your parking minimums. Any chaos that ensues will be healthier for your city than the acres of unproductive, wasted space we have justified with a veneer of professional expertise.
Chaotic on-street parking problems can be managed. Priced public parking can be built if the demand and willingness to pay justify it.

But vast oceans of parking cannot easily be reversed. Multiple underground or podium levels of parking cannot easily be put to better use.

You may think that parking requirements are not really why retailers like Walmart are almost always set in a vast parking lot. 

And you might be right. Here is Charles Marohn on this issue:
Do you think Wal-Mart opposes parking minimums? They may on an individual site here or there, but in general, parking minimums are one of their best advantages. They simultaneously raise the cost of entry for competitors while further tilting the marketplace in favor of businesses catering to people who drive (a segment Wal-Mart dominates). It is a self-reinforcing, downward cycle. If you are pro-biking, pro-walking or pro- transit, you are anti- parking minimums.

Was #BlackFridayParking a scientific exercise? No, of course not. 

It was striking and suggestive but you might say it proves nothing. Presumably the most enthusiastic participants were parking reform supporters who went out looking for empty lots and may have been reluctant to share images of full ones.

Nevertheless, I am assuming for now that what we see here is not too extremely misleading and that plenty of suburban retail locations have very far from full parking, even on Black Friday.

But, you say, there may be other reasons for that empty parking! Perhaps many of the photographed retail outlets may be struggling and in decline. That would help explain it.

But, if that is true, then it would actually highlight another theme of the Strong Towns movement - the economic vulnerability of the car-dependent buildings-set-in-oceans-of-parking development model relative to more traditional patterns of development.

Traditional retail development in town cores can also decline of course. And many town centres across the US are indeed in a sorry state.

Yet, Strong Towns has repeatedly highlighted that even blighted town cores generate value and tax revenue that far exceeds those of even thriving suburban retail strips. Something is wrong with the whole suburban car-dependent model of development.

In any case, parking policy is again central to many of the problems of traditional neighbourhoods. Here is Charles Marohn again:
... For small businesses -- especially a startup -- providing parking is a huge, expensive burden. When the parking required is excessive to the actual needs of the business, a local government is forcing that business owner to allocate scarce capital to unproductive uses. If you are pro- small business, you are anti- parking minimums.
... And parking minimums force some of the most ridiculous land use decisions I have ever seen. An individual wants to take a vacant storefront and open a business but then city hall tells them they need five parking spots. Where do they get that? Well they either don't (likely) or they buy a neighboring property, tear down whatever is on that lot and convert it to financially unproductive parking. This decimates the tax base when it happens and encourages horizontal expansion when it doesn't. If you are pro- environment or if you advocate for a strong, healthy tax base, you are anti- parking minimums.

I would really like to see more exercises like #BlackFridayParking.  

Do you have an idea for a similar event where you are? Please share!
1 comment

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hong Kong has parking minimums AND very expensive parking. How can that be?

Hong Kong has parking minimums AND very expensive parking. How can that be?
I recently stumbled across some information that resolved a Hong Kong parking mystery. Hooray!

Err. You didn't know there was a mystery about Hong Kong parking? I had better explain.

Singapore and Hong Kong both have big reputations for restraining car ownership and car use.

But there is a puzzle.

Singapore's explicit travel demand management (TDM) efforts are much more severe than Hong Kong's, yet they are apparently less effective.

Hong Kong's car ownership (about 60 cars per 1000 people) is much lower than Singapore's (about 110 cars per 1000) and its public transport mode share much higher. Singapore has around 3 times more private car kilometres of travel per person than Hong Kong. (Thanks Jeff Kenworthy - pdf)

Hong Kong's expensive parking is probably part of the answer to this puzzle.

But why does Hong Kong has such expensive parking?

At those densities, of course parking is expensive, you say? High land prices mean expensive parking, right?

Not so fast. High urban densities DON'T always result in high parking prices.

Just look at Mumbai or Cairo. These cities remind us that parking prices can be low even in dense cities with expensive real-estate.

By contrast, there is no doubt that Hong Kong has expensive parking.

It is not just daytime CBD parking that is expensive. Home-based residential parking is usually also very expensive. Part of that may be property speculation. But even so-called bubble-priced parking is still delivering a yield of about 4 percent so speculation is not the whole story.

Even residential parking in the public housing estates is expensive. For example when I looked in 2009, parking for tenants at Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin was HK$1,350 (or more than US$170) per month.

OK.  So maybe Hong Kong restricts parking supply as part of its transit-oriented urban transport strategy? 

Um. No again. Hong Kong actually has surprisingly conventional parking policy. 

That is what we found, to our surprise, in the ADB study that led to 'Parking Policy in Asian Cities'. Hong Kong has conventional minimum parking requirements (and no parking maximums).

The minimums are much lower than in the USA but they are higher than those of Japanese cities or Beijing.

Hong Kong parking requirements are actually similar to Singapore's. But mysteriously, Hong Kong parking is much more expensive than Singapore's.

So we do have a mystery here. 

Why are parking prices so high if Hong Kong parking policy now tries to meet "demand"?

Doesn't the conventional approach to parking, with its minimum parking requirements, always pump too much parking into a city?

Based on Hong Kong, the answer seems to be, no, not necessarily. But why not?

I already had a plausible guess before the recent discovery mentioned above. If we assume parking minimums were absent from Hong Kong before a certain date, then market prices for parking could have risen as car ownership rose without parking construction keeping pace.

This was a hyper-dense city after all with rapidly improving mass transit, so developers might happily build with very little parking, I guessed.

Then at some point, we know that Hong Kong did embark on a conventional approach to parking policy. It would have done so with a context of high parking prices and limited parking supply.

Now consider how Hong Kong would have set the new parking minimums. 

They required estimates of parking demand.

But parking demand in Hong Kong was very low when parking minimums were first imposed. This low demand was shaped by pre-existing high parking prices in highly transit-oriented landscapes, not to mention low car ownership.

It seems that the parking minimums were set rather low, based on that low demand. Even for new areas. The prevailing prices seem to have been taken as a given. So the new parking mandates did not exert (much) downward pressure on prices. (There is a longer story here, for another day.)

In addition, don't forget that parking requirements only apply to new development and redevelopment. So, even with Hong Kong's rapidly changing skyline there are still many 1970s buildings around and any injection of new parking supply is gradual.

And Hong Kong uses some flexibility in applying its parking mandates. There are significant reductions in the most transit-oriented locations. Parking supply can be restricted if the traffic impacts would be excessive. Small-scale street-side retail is usually exempt.

So Hong Kong's shift to a more-or-less conventional parking policy didn't cause low parking prices nor excessive supply (as far as I can tell).

But what parking policies came before the current conventional one? 

Without knowing that, I wasn't as certain of the narrative above as I would have liked.

I had assumed that before parking standards were introduced perhaps there had been a laissez faire approach to parking.

This is where the new information mentioned at the beginning of the article comes in.

Hong Kong actually aggressively restricted residential parking supply in the 1970s. It seems to have had strict maximums (at least for residential development) before it had minimums. 

Parking was a key tool, perhaps THE key tool of that period, aimed at restricting car ownership growth.

I hadn't realized this until I stumbled across this insight (under point 2.5) on a site outlining a 1997 complaint about private residential parking from the Hong Kong Consumer Council.
For traffic control purposes, the declared policy of the Government has been to restrain private car ownership. Prior to 1981, the Government attained this by restricting the provision of residential parking spaces. The Government later adopted fiscal measures to restrict the growth in private car ownership.
And, to confirm, here is the relevant Statement of Intent from the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines 1992 edition issued by the Planning Department, explaining the switch to a conventional parking policy and the shift away from restricting parking supply:
Parking standards for residential development were formulated in the light of the introduction of fiscal measures to restrict directly the rate of growth in private vehicle ownership and the abandonment of restraint on car ownership by a restriction of residential parking spaces. The overall intention of the standards is to ensure that, except in special cases, future residential developments should have sufficient parking provision to match the current and anticipated car ownership of residents. Generally, therefore, minimum rather than maximum standards are set. This should enable developers to be aware from outset of the extent of parking provision they can plan.  [My emphasis]
So parking supply was deliberately restricted with housing built in 1970s especially and up until 1981. 

And the impact of this would have been large, since there must have been a huge amount of residential construction in the 1970s.

Hong Kong's population rose from 3,995,400 in 1970 to 5,109,812 in 1981. And the 1970s was (mostly) a time of rapid economic growth in Hong Kong. So a large increment of Hong Kong housing took place with very low rates of parking.

I don't have the full story but I suspect that this policy began in the early 1970s. But even before that I imagine that most high-rise housing in Hong Kong was built with little or no parking, since car ownership was tiny in that era.

Why does all this matter? I can think of several reasons. Can you? 

But for now just let me summarize how the points in this post have helped clear up the puzzle about Singapore versus Hong Kong.

As mentioned at the top of this post, it is surprising that although Singapore's car restrictions are more severe than Hong Kong's, car ownership and use in Singapore are much higher.

Part of the answer is Hong Kong's extreme urban density (about 3 times Singapore's) which helps enable excellent public transport service levels.

But Hong Kong's expensive parking must also be important. And I had assumed expensive parking was a result of conscious and current policy in Hong Kong.

But that assumption was shaken by finding that Hong Kong's parking policies today are conventional with parking minimums, and little different from Singapore's. Contemporary parking policy in Hong Kong couldn't explain its high parking prices.

How perplexing.

But now I think I understand how Hong Kong can have parking minimums AND very expensive parking.  Any objections? 

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