Instead Of Congestion Pricing, Try Parking Pricing

A new report demonstrates that restructured parking fees could resolve a significant portion of Manhattan's traffic congestion, without the need for London-style congestion pricing.

"Free parking, it turns out, isn't free. A new study by transportation guru Bruce Schaller finds that free parking in Manhattan's Central Business district is responsible for a significant amount of New York City's staggering traffic congestion."

"Last year, Schaller's groundbreaking study, "Necessity or Choice: Why People Drive in Manhattan" found that a whopping 80 percent of the motorists driving into Manhattan's Central Business District have viable transit options. The study released today builds on those findings and begins to answer the question: Why do people choose to drive into Manhattan rather than using transit?

One of the answers to this question, it turns out, is that lots of people have access to free parking and on-street parking priced far below market rates."

Full Story: There’s No Such Thing as “Free Parking”



Parking Pricing Not A Substitute For Congestion Pricing

I am in favor of these policies for pricing parking, but I don't think they can take the place of congestion pricing. Parking pricing will not significantly reduce the number of automobiles coming into Manhattan because there is enough demand to fill the available spaces regardless of price.

Shoup recommends pricing on-street parking so 15% of spaces are vacant. That would reduce the number of parked cars in those spaces by a bit, but it would also encourage those spaces to be used for short-term parking rather than long-term parking, so those spaces would probably attract more cars over the course of the day. It would reduce traffic because drivers would not spend as much time cruising around looking for parking, but it would not reduce the number of cars coming into Manhattan.

Employee parking cash-out would reduce automobile use in most of the United States, because parking is so overbuilt that the employee parking lots would be maybe 20% vacant after cash-out. But in Manhattan, there is enough demand that all of the spaces left by commuters who shift mode because of cash-out would fill up with other drivers. Some of the commuters would be replaced by richer commuters, but most would be replaced by short-term parking, so more cars would come into Manhattan overall (though fewer during peak hours).

Parking pricing is a good idea because parking is used more efficiently. It can reduce auto use in many places. But I don't think it can reduce auto use in Manhattan, where all the cars that leave because of the higher price will be replaced by cars that are willing to pay the higher price.

Charles Siegel

Parking Pricing Misses Thru Traffic

Parking pricing, while potentially effective in discouraging some traffic, fails to address traffic that does not park in the City. Remember, congestion pricing seeks to reduce all congestion, including thru traffic. If we only price parking, those vehicles which do not park for any long amount of time will not be effected. Think of the commercial vehicles, cheuffered cars, and other traffic that would be unaffected by changes in parking prices.

If we really want to address all traffic in the City, at-large congestion pricing appears to be the most effective manner.

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