The High Cost of Parking

The video stream of Donald Shoup’s presentation at PSU is now online.

Even for those who already know the patter, it’s a revelation. One comparison I had not before is that the annual amount of parking subsidy in the United is roughly equal to each of the following three amounts:

  • The cost to run Medicare
  • The cost to run the Defense Department
  • The sum of all property taxes in the country


9 responses to “The High Cost of Parking”

  1. Sorry if this goes off-topic, but I wonder, does it take into effect the cost of parking on businesses near major transit centers when those parking lots fill up? Interesting story out of the Tacoma News Tribune about the Puyallup Station and the parking lot being overloaded, and businesses are complaining. Turns out the station has nearly 1000 stalls, but 300 are at a Transit Center on the South Hill, but nobody wants to take the bus to catch a train. Perhaps a simple solution would be to start charging for parking at the station, about $3 a stall, which is equal to the current fare to Seattle, but twice the base fare on Pierce Transit.

    Puyallup is about to see at least two more trains pull through, 1 of them reverse peak flow, and the other another peak-flow train to Seattle. That is going to put more strain on parking. In a way, Puyallup Station is a victim of SOUNDER’s success. Although there is a proposed fare structure overhaul, with a change from zonal to distance-based fares. Perhaps using market-forces for parking at the stations might be a good idea once 6 or more trains are in the SOUNDER system. That and more stations with fewer parking spots, and having express runs.

  2. I’m gonna call it and say one of those amounts, but not all three combined.

    But then of course, I wouldn’t doubt it if it is as much as all three combined. The amount the US spends on auto based travel is insane.

    – Evergreen Transit Fan

    Another problem with that Sounder station is the fact that a few hundred of those are probably consumed by people who do not want to park in downtown Tacoma. So they come down and ride the Streetcar into town.

    Another thing people could do to fix the Sounder problem is find or pay for a parking garage along the light rail Streetcar line for people to park at to ride the Sounder. Needless to say, I wouldn’t raise the parking costs too much without first providing a bit more. I mean, if the subsidies on roads dissappeared and tolls put in place one could charge the full cost of parking AND the train ride, but that isn’t possible in today’s markets. …and we do want Sounder ridership to grow.

    Also note, they just added another car to two of the trains! It is great news to see that happen. It’ll be really awesome if they start running 10-12 car trains! Imagine that, it would practically double the ridership, without adding a single track. Even with the schedule they’re talking about now with the x number of trains, and reverse direction trains, they’re going to exceed a full lane of traffic of SOVs real soon (next 2-4 years).

  3. Sounder is not Light Rail or Streetcar. That is LINK. ST Brands their services. LINK is Light Rail, and the TacomaLINK route is anchored by a parking garage at Tacoma Dome Station, it runs less than 2 miles(for now). SOUNDER is Locomotive-Hauled Commuter Rail. In fact, Yesterday was the first full day of a capacity increase, 1 extra coach on each of the first two trains out of King Street Station, and their morning counterparts. SOUNDER is the most successful of the ST Services in terms of the fact that their has been no contraction of service, yet. The ST Express buses that run from park and rides to regional centers, have seen some unsuccessful routes. Like in the ridership report for the 4th Quarter of 2006 over 2005, ST Express route 585 showed a 100% loss in ridership. That is because sometime in 2006, that route was cut due to a lack of ridership. It ran from Lakewood to Auburn via SR512 and SR167. It stopped at at least 2 SOUNDER Stations. ST Express 582 from Bonney Lake to Tacoma is a good feeder route for SOUNDER, and stops at both Sumner and Puyallup, spreading the load. It is interesting to note that until SOUNDER came on-line, Sumner and Puyallup had no Direct Transit service to Seattle, even during Rush Hour since these communities shifted from farming towns to suburbs. I am only 28, and still remember going to the Fair, and the highway in some areas was still one-lane each way. Now it rarely drops below 2 or 3 lanes each way, and that includes the street running in Seattle and Renton on Ranier Ave.

  4. Let me get this straight. The cost of providing parking in 2002 was ~$240B, where as the number of cars in the US was 243M in 2004. Which means that the parking subsidy is approximately $1000/year/car. Makes car insurance seem cheap.

  5. Think about it. The cost of a parking space at home, a parking space at work, a parking space at the mall, a parking space at church…

    Not hard to imagine you could be ‘renting’ $1000 of real estate, usually in ways where you don’t see the price (your employer doesn’t charge you for that parking space right? – at least if you’re outside downtown).

  6. I believe Lester Brown said in “Plan B” that there are 7 parking spaces for every car in the US… If we look at those numbers: $1000/7 is $142/space/year, and at 8′ wide by 20′ long, that is 88 cents/ft^2/year. At 6% interest that means land is worth $15/ft^2, which means that the average buildable lot (50*100) is about $80k. That is a little low for close in Portland, but about right for the suburbs.

    Are these presentations open to the public? The webcasts miss a lot of the slides, (for instance, I want to know what he was proposing doing to Cisco’s parking lot…)

    (Lester Brown’s point was that if China or India ever went 1 car per person, China would have to pave the entire country just to provide parking for the cars, and India would have to pave the entire country, and 50 miles out to sea… So much for the fuel/food debate. Parking/food would be much worse…)

  7. Lester Brown’s point was that if China or India ever went 1 car per person, China would have to pave the entire country just to provide parking for the cars

    Are you sure he wasn’t also including farmland used to produce biofuels, or some other measure? I don’t doubt the 7 parking spaces per person figure, but the “pave the entire country” for parking argument doesn’t add up…

    Using your figures of 160sq.ft. per parking space, 7 spaces is 1,120sq.ft, equal to .000 040 174 square miles.

    China (PRC) has an estimated population of 1,315,844,000 (2006 – Wikipedia), which translates to 52,862 square miles. That’s a lot of parking, but China has a territory of 3,704,427 square miles — the parking would take up 1.4% of the land.

    Of course, population centers tend to be where the resources are, or where the ports are, or the best land is located, so that 1.4% of all land might translate to 100% of where people want to be, which would have serious quality-of-life consequences.

    By comparison, Oregon has an area of 98,466 sq.mi., so to provide parking for all of China would completely pave over 54% of the state!

    – Bob R.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *