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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Demand-responsive parking prices: a key element of Adaptive Parking


If your town or city wants a parking system that is fair and efficient and which adapts itself easily to changing conditions then you will also need parking prices that adapt to changing conditions.

Pricing parking is controversial but there is no getting away from its importance for improving parking outcomes. 

So a shift towards performance pricing for parking is a key part of the Adaptive Parking agenda. The barriers are political, not practical. We have the technology.

SF Park Embarcadero
SFPark's performance pricing uses smart parking meters like this one.

One key reason to make parking pricing more responsive to demand has been well explained by Donald Shoup. It is to reduce cruising for parking. In districts with saturated on-street parking an alarming percentage of traffic consists of motorists searching for a local parking spot. This is totally unnecessary traffic caused by mismanaged parking!

In the Adaptive Parking agenda I would extend this reason a bit further and take aim at ALL queuing for parking (including queues outside parking lots and even invisible queues, like waiting lists for permits). 

Why extend performance pricing to minimizing all queuing for parking? Because a second reason to want responsive parking prices is to better reveal market prices for parking in each neighbourhood.

Even private sector parking prices can be unresponsive. There is an adage in the parking industry that many operators set their prices by simply 'looking across the street'. Many organizations have long waiting lists for employee parking permits. A broader approach to performance pricing might seek ways to reduce such queues and make parking prices more responsive and less sticky so that they more accurately reflect current conditions. 

This post is the third in a series explaining the basics of Adaptive Parking. Performance pricing is the second key reform principle in the Adaptive Parking list. The first was to encourage more parking to be open to the public or shared

Would more responsive parking prices make sense for your community?