On-Street Convenience Pricing

The University of Minnesota hosts a listserv dedicated to congestion pricing. I recommend it for browsing on occasion.

Roger Herz of NYC and a long-time advocate of market pricing recently included a comment, there: "on-street parking should be priced at least equal to and perhaps more than off-street."

I couldn’t agree more.

On-street parking should be by-the-minute with no ceiling and at rates comparable with or somewhat higher than off-street parking (which could retain ceilings to be more competitive with on-street). This can be done with in-car meters that are commercially available.

This encourages turnover and a greater preference for off street-parking. The price difference between on-street and off-street should generally reflect the relative convenience of the on-street offering against the inconvenience of off-street. Call this "Value pricing" for parking. Or use USDoT Secretary Mary Peters' newer and more direct term "convenience pricing".

To bring shop keepers and the disadvantaged on side, offer 10-20 minutes free, but make that up in the remainder of the first 60 to 90 minutes. Don't lower it after the make up period, rather make that the premium for convenience.

With such a system, a municipality could save enforcement dollars while maintaining enforcement revenues by using a simple price escalator after the usual two- or three-hour parking allowance is used up. For example double or triple the minute-rate after the allowance period is up.

As well, it is possible – when the system is GPS based and fully automated – to provide parking credits to motorists who do not move their vehicles during peak hours. Such a pricing-and-reward parking system, priced appropriately, would have a dramatic effect on CBD congestion, without the introduction of cordon tolling as London and Singapore have done. Here is an amusing scenario about this new type of meter: http://grushhour.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-to-get-free-parking.html

The meter is available from Skymeter and is available in an anonymous version (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), and, one assumes, in any color, as long as it is black.


A related idea to offer a reward to delay your entry into traffic comes from the Netherlands.

“Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch road administration) [are] providing real-time traffic and public transport information to visitors of amusement parks and catering establishments [to achieve] a better dispersal of traffic. … displays with traffic information are placed at the exit of a large number of amusement parks, zoos, road restaurants and conference centers [to show] real-time traffic jams and or train delays. When there are traffic jams in the surroundings of the participating locations an interesting alternative can be offered to prolong the visitors stay. For example a ‘rush hour menu' for a special price. The ‘rush hour menu' has to stimulate visitors to stay longer at the location when there are traffic jams or train delays. This will create a better dispersal of traffic.”

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