Would You Like Parking with That?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (sorry, their links require a subscription) had a piece about a hot new trend: reserving your parking space in advance (online or by phone).

One of the systems mentioned is ParkingCarma, which provides reservations at high-demand BART stations in the Bay Area.

XM Satellite Radio is also said to be getting into the act. Apparently the technology can go so far as to include sensors in individual spaces to track which are available.

The article suggests an overall transportation and environmental benefit by reducing the amount of driving around to find a space.

I’m not quite sure what to think about this. Is it an additional facilitator for more driving, or an information system to improve efficiency?

11 responses to “Would You Like Parking with That?”

  1. Roll with it. Definitely sounds good to me. “The more you know…”

    Seriously, information is the key to transportation, and maybe to life…

  2. Some studies have shown that up to 50% of the traffic in some neighborhoods at some times of day… is circling for parking. Just think of NW Portland: How many of those cars that zip back and forth between 21st and 23rd are just looking for a spot to park? So, this system really is seeking to cut down on that traffic, by allowing people to know where they might be able to park, before they get there.

    Of course, it helps to know that there might be a parking garage nearby that’s available, if the street spaces just don’t pan out.

    It also helps if said garage charges the same rate as the street, rather than some kind of exhorbitant fee. In San Francisco, for instance, street parking is rare, but free after 6pm, whereas many garages charge $5.00. Every 20 minutes. And that’s in the off-peak.

  3. Erik Sten was telling me the other day he never has a problem finding parking in NW.
    Build parking and you get more cars.
    Charge for parking and things begin to work better. Why give away a resource? If NW businesses were seriously in need of parking, they would go for meters. Clearly its not that big a problem.

  4. OK, perhaps NW Portland was a bad example… perhaps people walk, ride their bikes and take transit enough that’s a non-issue.

    Hey, whatever happened to the proposal to lengthen meter hours until 9pm and start charging on Sundays?

  5. I live in NW Portland, so I’ll give a testimonial!

    The only truly bad parking in the area is between Burnside & Lovejoy from 22nd to 24th… the rest of the area is relatively easy to find parking. Of course, you might have to drive 1 or 2 blocks further from the street than you’d like, but that isn’t very far. Compared to, say, parking in a 24 acre Wal-Mart parking lot and walking a quarter mile to the front door.

    So that might explain why most of my friends here either a) don’t own a car or b) drive about once a month

    As far as reserving parking.. isn’t this suspiciously like a do-it-yourself valet service? Except you still pay?

    As long as they don’t privatize street parking or tear down all the old buildings to put in multi storied parking garages, sounds great! Charging money to drive is a great idea!

  6. Justin Says: . .Charging money to drive is a great idea!
    JK: Since car user fees pay for virtually all roads and some of mass transit, I hope you would agree that if anyone should pay more, it is those who are not now paying their fair share of our streets: Pedestrians, bikes and transit riders (transit only pays about 1/5 of the actual cost)


  7. Jim, I think we should crank gas taxes up to $5 a gallon. Raise efficiency requirements to 40 mpg all across the board, average per car mfgr fleet.

    Mandate in every state California fuel-efficiency standards. Drop all tax write offs for SUVs, and all subsidies for hybrid and other smaller cars. Completely stop propping up failing American car manufacturers and airlines.

    Then I’d like to see where the demand for transportation goes, and let the money follow the demand.

    As a secondary note, removing all the ridiculous taxation systems on railroads’ infrastructure would also help – its amazing that they can be competitive with truck traffic when they pay property tax on every square footage of mainline they lay down, when truckers don’t have to pay for the freeway except in gas tax, which is hugely offset by passenger car gas tax contributions.

    Yes, tollways are the way to go. General Funds should go to pay for social services, like higher education, healthcare, normal education, and fire/poliec.

  8. Jim, I’m going to respond to the utterly insane idea of CHARGING PEDESTRIANS TOLLS for access.


    If you even tried proposing that in a public or political realm, the ADA would nail your ass to the wall so fast your teeth would fall out.

    Discriminating against people who are disabled and cannot afford motorized transportation – which is how it would be argued – would end any political career for anyone.

    Besides. how. would. you. enforce. it.

    Children don’t pay taxes. Neither do homeless street bums. What are you going to do, chop off their feet if they don’t pay up? Force 6 year olds to drive if they can’t afford a pedestrian tax?

    As for bicyclists – again, have police shoot any 8 year old riding down the sidewalk in Beaverton without a permit? What if he can’t pass the eye exam?!

    I don’t even know why I try. This is the most completely brainless idea I have ever heard.

    Anywa, peace out y’all. That’s all I have to say about that.

  9. More background info on this parking thing:

    Todd Litman, author of Parking Management Best Practices and Executive Director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, discusses parking management strategies and how they can be used to improve cities:

    Donald Shoup, FAICP, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, delves deeper into the concept of parking management, explaining how practical policies can mean big benefits for the streets on which they are enacted. With performance-based parking prices, local revenue return, and parking increment finance, everybody wins:

  10. Justin: Justin Says: Jim, I think we should crank gas taxes up to $5 a gallon.
    Justin: Discriminating against people who are disabled and cannot afford motorized transportation – which is how it would be argued – would end any political career for anyone.
    JK: You are the one proposing discrimination. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that cars are the BEST way for the handicapped to get around. Your $5 tax will hit them hard. It would also harm the economy and do little to deter driving. See Europe for an example of coping with confiscary gas taxes: Almost as much driving with smaller, more dangerous cars.


  11. The WSJ article featuring ParkingCarma can be found at the Post Gazette, the link is as follows:


    To answer Chris’ question “Is it an additional facilitator for more driving, or an information system to improve efficiency?” It is the 2nd. Accurate information about available parking spots and exact location = less driving in circles looking for a spot = less traffic congestion.

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