Winnipeg: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released Convenient, affordable parking when and where you need it: The benefits of accurate pricing and smart technologies.
Authored by Stuart Donovan, a consultant transportation engineer based in New Zealand, the report examines current parking policies and future trends and concludes that new solutions are urgently needed to the parking problems that plague North American cities. Donovan suggests our problems are actually rather simple: The demand for parking sometimes exceeds what is available. Trying to meeting the demand for free parking is, however, prohibitively expensive because the average parking stall costs on average between $5,000 and $20,000. Providing more parking would also worsen congestion in Canada’s already clogged city streets.
The report recommends a different approach; it seeks to make the most of the parking that is already available. It notes that the demand for parking varies considerably across different times of the day and in different parts of the city. In this context it makes little sense for municipalities to charge a fixed price for parking, because to do so does not manage demand in busy areas while other parking spots sit empty or underused. Donovan suggests that flat parking prices are “akin to a situation where airlines charged the same price for all plane tickets no matter how busy the flight, so that some planes flew nearly empty while other planes flew completely full.”
Instead, the study suggests that municipalities set accurate prices that vary dynamically based on demand. Accurate pricing, Donovan writes, “will mean that the price of parking varies between different parts of the city and at different times of the day. This encourages the demand for parking to spread out—in much the same way that cheap airfares encourage price sensitive passengers to fly at off peak times. Accurate pricing sets the price of parking as low as possible, while ensuring that some spots are always available for those drivers that really need it.” In this way parking is affordable and convenient.
Internet and Smart Phone technology allow drivers to see in real-time where parking spots are available and how much they cost. Smart meters could allow drivers to top-up their parking remotely using their mobile phone – avoiding situations where drivers receive parking fines simply because they underestimated the amount of time they needed to park. The means to implement all of these parking solutions already exists. The City of San Francisco, for example, is currently trying out a dynamic pricing system where rates vary from USD $0.25 – $6 per hour, depending on demand.
The study indicates that large Canadian cities will greatly benefit from adopting similar parking policies. Accurate pricing and smart technologies provide incentives for drivers to make good choices rather than simply punishing them for their mistakes. In this way, municipalities can ensure convenient, affordable parking is available when and where drivers need it while also supporting a range of community objectives, such as reduced congestion.
Download a copy of Convenient, Affordable Parking When and Where You Need It HERE.
For more information and to arrange an interview with the study’s author, media (only) should contact:
Tel: 011 316 8512 0741
Marco Navarro-Genie, PhD
Director of Research