When I started writing this, I intended to consider whether performance-based parking pricing might be able to help. This would be of wide interest, since US experiments with such pricing so far have not included residential parking (which would be even more controversial). But this post is already long, so I will save that topic for another day.
In part 1 on Thursday I expressed surprise that Singapore has not tackled parking issues with its trademark demand-responsive pricing approach. But when it comes to residential parking issues I guess it is not so very surprising. Residential parking the world over is especially political. Furthermore, Singapore's other pricing solutions in urban transport are not exactly popular so you can understand wariness about adding another one.
Supply decisions respond to demand but prices don't
As I mentioned in part 1, HDB parking prices generally don't vary from place to place. The agency balances supply and demand with a predict-and-provide approach (which takes the existing prices as a given rather than using them to dampen increases in demand). So over the long-term, expanding supply to meet demand is the main strategy. This is less problematic and is easier in Singapore than elsewhere because of the control over the rate of growth of the car fleet.
HDB also has a range of non-pricing tactics to give residents priority over visitors.
For example, nighttime (10.30pm to 7am) visitor parking can be forbidden altogether in locations with high overnight demand. Many residential parking lots in HDB are currently free on Sundays and public holidays. This can be withdrawn if demand is too high.
Red line markings ('red lots'*) indicate parking spots that are reserved for season permit holders only. 'White lots' can be used by visitors at any time. In the face of excessive demand, HDB can reduce white spaces and increase the number of red ones. This year it also introduced a new colour code ('bi-coloured lots', both red and white) to indicate more clearly those parking spaces which are reserved for residents only part time (7pm to 7am and on Sundays and public holidays). Red paint will now say unambiguously 'residents only'.
HDB also gives priority to the first car in a household (see near the bottom of this news item). Subsequent cars are at the end of the queue and therefore get season parking permits only in parking lots with enough space. These may be further from the home. In the debates over the current 'shortages', some folks have also suggested charging second and subsequent cars a much higher price for season parking.
|An HDB multi-storey car park with roof-garden (in Sengkang)|
Recently, HDB broke with the pattern above and announced a price change
HDB is doubling the overnight (10.30pm-7am) visitor parking fee (from S$2 to S$4). This will help a little I think but it doesn't address the crux of the current problems (as observers, including ruling-party MPs, have noted). But is it a sign of things to come?
What is the problem really?
Despite Singapore's vehicle quota system, car ownership rose more rapidly than intended in recent years. This has apparently overwhelmed HDB's residential parking supply in certain areas. So some estates are now facing a 'parking crunch'.