MBA: The Right Price for Parking
You might be shocked at how much traffic consists of drivers who have already arrived at their destination but find themselves cruising the streets, searching for an open parking spot. In some city neighborhoods, cruising makes up as much as 40 percent of all traffic. All this unnecessary traffic slows down buses, endangers cyclists and pedestrians, delays other motorists, and produces harmful emissions. The key to eliminating it is to get the price of parking right.
So what's the right price for curbside parking? According to UCLA professor Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, "the right price is the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two spaces available on each block." Depending on the demand for parking at a given location, the right price could be higher or lower than the static prices you see at traditional meters. You need a dynamic system that adjusts the price based on demand.
The city of San Francisco has been putting Shoup's ideas into practice on an unprecedented scale with its SFpark program, which is set to launch later this week. In addition to strategically adjusting curbside meter rates, SFpark sets prices in city garages to make them an attractive alternative to on-street spots, and distributes real-time information about parking availability to help drivers find open spaces. It is the most ambitious project in the United States to cut traffic and improve quality of life by getting the price of parking right.
Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.
Dr. Donald Shoup: [00.13] All of these cars are parking free on some of the most valuable land on earth.
Jay Primus: [00:19] Parking is at the heart of so many transportation issues.
Dr. Donald Shoup: [00:22] The right price for kerb parking is the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two vacant spaces on every block.
Matthew Roth: [00:28] San Francisco with many thousands of parking spaces, both off-street and on-street, is testing the hypothesis that if you properly manage the spaces you reduce the total amount of cruising, you reduce traffic, you improve quality of life.
Jay Primus: [00:48] SFpark is a demonstration of a new approach to managing parking. The idea is to make it so that your experience as a driver is that there’s almost always a parking space available on every block. That’s great for drivers and should make driving more predictable, more convenient. But it’s good for people even who don’t drive.
Speaker: [01:04] SFpark provides safer and clearer streets for everyone. Here’s how it works – newly installed parking sensors detect when a parking space is available. Drivers will be able to check parking availability and rates online by text message and by smartphone before heading to their destination.
Matthew Roth: [01:21] The parking managers now with great precision can tell where a vehicle’s parked, how long it’s parked. They can tell whether that the driver of that vehicle is paying for it. They can get a much better sense of where the rate for parking should be. If you have a scarce resource, parking spaces, and you have a lot of demand for that resource, the best way to manage that is to price it properly, cos it’s simple economic principle.
Jay Primus: [01:45] If there’s a block now that is completely full but just two blocks away that has a few spaces open, we’re going to increase prices just a little bit on the block that’s full and lower them on the block that has open spaces. All we need is just one or two people to park on that block with the open spaces to achieve the availability target that we’re looking for.
Jay Primus: [02:06] Right now there are garages and lots that it’s more expensive than it is on the streets so people have every financial incentive to circle around looking for parking which is exactly what we don’t want to happen. So we’ll be lowering prices at garages and lots to make those relatively more attractive. The whole goal is to get people off the streets and matched up with a parking space as quickly as possible.
Matthew Roth: [02:24] Studies show in some cities like New York City and parts of San Francisco you can have 15 to 40% of all of the local traffic is people looking for a spot, cruising for parking, which is incredibly inefficient.
Jay Primus: [02:37] This is the first time that this approach to parking management has been done on such a large scale in such a carefully monitored environment. There is a tremendous emphasis on data collection and evaluation to really evaluate just how well SFpark delivers the benefits we expect for drivers, for the environment, for transit and so on.
Matthew Roth: [02:54] If you get the parking right, then you improve the entire neighbourhood.
Dr. Donald Shoup:
[02:59] Well when people look back 50 years from now they’ll see that
one of the major benefits of getting the price of parking right was
to reduce the carbon emissions from all of this cruising that’s going
on all over the world.
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