Variable-priced Parking

The Saturday Wall Street Journal had an article outlining strategies to manage parking by charging based on demand (the link is only good for 5 days). The price to use a parking space could vary by location or time of time. Donald Shoup, who recently spoke in Portland, is quoted.

4 responses to “Variable-priced Parking”

  1. Regarding variable-pricing, should the price for something (whether it be parking or, say, plants) be based on cost to produce it or demand for it? After all, the actual cost of land, pavement, etc that make up a parking space is no different during the middle of the night then it is during the day.

    Also, the article mentions rising bus ridership in the Lloyd District but neglects to mention that the area also has light rail service. And pseudo-variable-priced parking already is common–private lots charge different prices and most metered spaces are free in the evenings.

    Overall, the article is another example of how parking is often under-priced, below what the market will bare and below the cost of providing it. And suburbs are the worst offenders.

  2. I’m sure someone will scream, “but what about the poor!” They shouldn’t be driving if they can’t afford it! So anyway, there I said it for ya! :o

    But I digress. This is a great idea. Another one of those pay per use market based strategies that I’m always screaming about. Unless businesses wanna pay directly for the parking EVERYTHING should be pay per use.

  3. Ya know, you’re going to hate me for saying this. I’m going to hate me for suggesting it.

    But with variable pricing, it would make sense to put meters in a lot more places (*cough* Northwest Portland *cough* Hawthorne), and price them based on demand.

    That is, via sensors placed in the pavement, computers would monitor the parking supply of metered spaces within, say, a block and two blocks away from every space (with the more-adjacent spaces weighted more highly). The price would go up as surrounding spaces filled up. When more than 95% of surrounding spaces were occupied, the price would hit its maximum level, and stay there. If, say, 50% of the surrounding spaces were empty, parking would drop to the lowest rate.

    Meters could then be used 18 hours a day, as a way to keep turnover high so that customers would have a better chance of finding a space so they could visit merchants. Prices would self-adjust, such that if the price got too high and people elected to keep driving rather than stay and pay… the price would drop until equilibrium was reached.

    It would be a win-win for everybody:

    1) Drivers would have a better chance of finding a parking space
    2) Merchants would have a better chance of having their customers find parking
    3) More money would be available for streetscape improvements and transit
    4) Transit customers would not only notice parking-funded transit improvements, but fewer vehicles would be circling for parking in front of transit vehicles, slowing down their progress.

    Hard to argue with the free market, and this would seem to be a pretty pure free market in action.

  4. the article mentions rising bus ridership in the Lloyd District

    Tell me if I’m wrong, please, but isn’t part of the Lloyd District transit management plan HUGELY reduced transit pass costs?

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