Thursday, January 20, 2011

European cities are reaping the rewards of innovative parking policies

European cities are reaping the rewards of innovative parking policies
So says a new report, Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation, from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

Source: ITDP (2011) Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation, p18

Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary (I have added a link):
This paper is the second in a series of policy papers from ITDP on parking. The first paper, released in Spring 2010, focused on successful parking practices in U.S. cities. This paper reviews successful parking practices in European cities. Parking management is a critical and often overlooked tool for achieving a variety of social goals. For much of the 20th Century, cities in Europe, like cities in the rest of the world, used parking policy mainly to encourage the construction of additional off-street parking, hoping to ease a perceived shortage of parking.
In the last few decades a growing number of European cities have led the world in changing the direction of parking policy. European citizens grew tired of having public spaces and footpaths occupied by surface parking. ...
In the cities reviewed here, parking policy has been reoriented around alternative social goals. Some recent parking reforms are driven by the need to comply with EU ambient air quality or national greenhouse gas targets. Other new parking policies are part of broader mobility targets encouraging reductions in the use of private motor vehicles. While London, Stockholm, and a few other European cities have managed to implement congestion charging to reduce motor vehicle use, more are turning to parking.

The ten cities featured are Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Strasbourg and Zurich. The report was written by Michael Kodransky and Gabrielle Hermann.

Key findings include:
  • Parking is increasingly linked to public transport. Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich and Strasbourg limit how much parking is allowed in new developments based on how far it is to walk to a bus, tram or metro stop. Zurich has made significant investments in new tram and bus lines while making parking more expensive and less convenient. As a result, between 2000 and 2005, the share of public transit use went up by 7%, while the share of cars in traffic declined by 6%.
  • European cities are ahead of the rest of the world in charging rational prices for on-street parking. In Paris, the on-street parking supply has been reduced by more than 9% since 2003, and of the remaining stock, 95% is paid parking. The result, along with other transport infrastructure improvements, has been a 13% decrease in driving.
  • Parking reforms are becoming more popular than congestion charging. While London, Stockholm, and a few other European cities have managed to implement congestion charging, more are turning to parking. Parking caps have been set in Zurich and Hamburg’s business districts to freeze the existing supply, where access to public transport is easiest.
  • Revenue gathered from parking tariffs is being invested to support other mobility needs. In Barcelona, 100% of revenue goes to operate Bicing—the city’s public bike system. Several boroughs in London use parking revenue to subsidize transit passes for seniors and the disabled, who ride public transit for free.
Click here for a copy of the report (PDF).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Singapore's Today newspaper on my parking policy ideas

Singapore's Today newspaper on my parking policy ideas
Journalists like a local policy angle. So yesterday when a journalist from the Today newspaper here in Singapore called to ask about the Asian parking study she naturally asked what it means for Singapore parking policy.

The resulting article by Neo Chai Chin came out today under the title "Missed opportunity in parking policy?"

[UPDATE: The link to the article is now dead, so I have now placed its text at the bottom of this post.]

The Asian cities parking study itself doesn't make recommendations for Singapore specifically but, among other points, it does express surprise that parking policy here is rather conventional (using minimum parking requirements). It also seems odd that parking policy plays only a very small part in Singapore's robust Travel Demand Management efforts.

But I have been thinking a lot about how Shoupista-style parking policy might apply in Singapore. So when the journalist asked what I would suggest, I (rashly?) explained that performance pricing for public-sector parking should offer benefits and would be more consistent with Singapore's wider transport and urban planning priorities.

Anyway, do take a look at the article itself.  I see a few points in it that I would like to clarify or correct. Not today however. My detailed comments can wait.

[The full text of the Today article is below.]

Parking Location

Missed opportunity in parking policy?
Researcher says market-based pricing better, others believe implementation will be tricky
by Neo Chai Chin
05:55 AM Jan 06, 2011
1 comment

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parking spot squatting - an international phenomenon?

Parking spot squatting - an international phenomenon?
South Boston was in the news after this week's snow storm for the local practice of informally (and illegally but apparently legally) reserving on-street parking spots. When there is snow on the ground, the person who digs out an on-street parking spot treats it as theirs for a day or two or until the snow is gone. They mark their space with household objects, as reported in the New York Times which has a photograph of a colourful beach chair sitting incongruously in a wintry street scene.

Something similar happens all year round in tropical Southeast Asia, including in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Clearly snow is not a factor here!

In Singapore this seems to happen in low-rise residential areas (wealthy places in the Singapore context) where on-street parking is not priced and where spaces are not formally marked out. Singapore has no residential permit system for such areas. The residential streets shown in these pictures are in prosperous Serangoon Gardens close to commercial activity (especially restaurants busy in the evenings) on Yio Chu Kang Road. These photos were taken in the late afternoon. 

Reserving parking like this might seem brazen (I guess it is) and it is certainly illegal [Update: in the Southeast Asian cases it is illegal]. And I don't necessarily think it is widely accepted as a reasonable thing to do. As the reports on Boston make clear, many frown on this practice but that doesn't make them bold enough to actually move the objects and park there anyway. [Update: In the South Boston case, using objects to save spaces seems to have at least some legal status. The City of Boston website says it will only remove such space-savers 48 hours after a snow storm.] And Even where it is unambiguously illegal, how many people will take the trouble to report this to the authorities? Very few it seems.  

In South Boston, snow and the effort of digging out a space enhances the sense of righteousness in claiming the spot. In certain places in Singapore, it seems some residents feel justified in claiming these spaces every evening.

My guess is that residents informally reserve "their" on-street parking spaces in many cities around the world, if they can get away with it, and if they feel they need to.

Does this happen in your town? In what specific circumstances? Have you heard of good solutions?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Park-and-Ride Comparison: Vancouver, Melbourne and Perth

Park-and-Ride Comparison: Vancouver, Melbourne and Perth
There is a new in-depth post on park-and-ride at the Australian public transport blog, Transport Textbook.  Author "Loose Shunter" (ahem) asks "What role for Park and Ride in an integrated public transport system?"

He or she takes a detailed look at park-and-ride policy in Melbourne and Perth in Australia and Vancouver in Canada, highlighting contrasts in their approach. 

To my mind, Vancouver does best. It doesn't abandon park-and-ride altogether but does not let it undermine transit-oriented development opportunities, feeder bus services and the environment for walking and cycling to stations. Melbourne's approach is at the opposite end of the park-and-ride spectrum.

The essay discusses many of the arguments for and against providing car parking at stations. The post also has a good bibliography for anyone who wants to dig further.

Reinventing Parking readers may remember that I have urged a skeptical approach to park-and-ride in dense, inner-urban transit station areas. This applies to many stations of most of Asia's growing mass transit systems. So I was interested to see Transport Textbook's take on park-and-ride in much lower-density metropolitan areas with more automobile-oriented suburban landscapes than in Asia.

Below are some highlights from the Transport Textbook post. The whole thing is worth a look.

Some criticisms of park-and-ride:
Hamer (2010:52) questions the effectiveness of Park and Ride as a generator of mode shift to public transport, with some studies cited claiming that Park and Ride ‘cannibalises’ existing patronage from feeder buses, walking and active transport and attracts people to driving to the station rather than using more sustainable modes. Mees (2010:174) offers the Doncaster bus Park and Ride in Melbourne as an example, where a survey found the facility’s opening in 2004 had drawn almost all its users from those who formerly used public transport for their entire journey.

Mees (2010:174-5) questions the lessening of environmental effects from the shorter car trips generated by Park and Ride journeys, claiming cold engine starts and short journeys may produce as much pollution as longer, door-to-door car journeys. He also critiques Park and Ride as not providing a real alternative to car use, serving only peak-period, peak-direction CBD trips on radial rail and bus networks. Thus, Park and Ride does not serve off-peak or non-CBD trips effectively. He argues that the size of a city’s Park and Ride stock is inversely related to that city’s ability to grow public transport patronage (Mees 2010:94).

Perth's freeway-median rail lines apparently suit park-and-ride: 
The role of Park and Ride in the Perth rail system is to extend the network’s catchment beyond walking distance from the station. This is particularly important on the newer Mandurah and Joondalup lines, where most stations are located in the freeway median with very limited walk-up catchments.

Murdoch Park n Ride south of Perth on the Mandurah rail line which runs here in the Freeway median.

But on Perth's other rail lines there is some conflict between the public transport agency, TransPerth, which wants to keep park-and-ride, and other agencies that want more Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

Some of Perth's park-and-ride spaces are priced, using pay-and-display at A$2 per day.

Park and Ride is an important policy in Melbourne
Park and Ride has been an important element of public transport planning in Melbourne for over 40 years. The Victorian Government has invested heavily in Park and Ride facilities across the metropolitan rail network since the 1970s.
Park-and-ride in Melbourne has been criticised by Paul Mees among others, as being a wasteful subsidy for car users, as reflecting the failure to integrate rail with feeder modes, and for having a large opportunity-cost.

The Melbourne authorities seem highly committed to the policy and determined not to price the spaces.
The Victorian Government and rail operators have sent strong signals over many years that Park and Ride is a free resource to rail users. In fact, the most recent franchise agreement for the metropolitan rail network ensured that the operator would not price the use of Park and Ride facilities (Department of Transport 2009:106).
Vancouver has fewer park-and-ride slots than Melbourne or Perth and they are located at only a few stations, which are mainly near the ends of the Skytrain lines and the West Coast Express (WCE) commuter rail line. Vancouver prevents park-and-ride from undermining transit-oriented development opportunities through its ...
... long-term policy to restrict supply of Park and Ride to the outer ends of the network to maximise public transport use and promote Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) opportunities around inner- and middle-suburban stations.
Much of the parking at mass transit stations in Vancouver is priced (at C$3 per day or C$60 per month).

In Vancouver, park-and-ride is therefore a complement to the other modes of accessing stations and does not dominate or undermine them. Park-and-ride is not a feature of most of its stations.

Do take a look at the Transport Textbook post.