Video: How Much Should Parking Cost?

Variable parking pricing can offer some of the same benefits as congestion pricing.

1 minute read

February 21, 2024, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


A new video from City Beautiful explains how on-street parking in many cities is woefully underpriced—and how variable pricing could have similar effects to congestion pricing in reducing congestion and pollution. Aysha Khan describes the video in Next City.

As Khan explains, “Despite competing uses for these spaces – outdoor dining, bioswales, bike lanes, loading zones, widened sidewalks and so on – local governments rarely raise their parking prices to market rates, or rates that acknowledge the nominal and real costs of parking.” Cities offer low-cost parking to attract customers to local businesses, but more strategic pricing could help mitigate traffic issues, boost economic development, and reduce emissions.

In the video, Dave Amos explains that variable pricing can help manage demand and ensure there are enough parking spaces while discouraging unnecessary trips and raising revenue. “Amos points to a pilot program in San Franciso for variable parking pricing, which installed sensors at every meter and adjusted parking prices over time to ensure a 60 to 80% occupancy rate. By raising prices at peak periods, they achieved their occupancy goals and cut cruising rates in half, offering a promising model for other cities to follow.”

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