Are Parking Rates “Fair


Are Parking Rates “Fair

It it’s seldom that the publisher of a magazine takes umbrage with editorial copy in it, but I have been wondering a bit about Pete Goldin’s subhead (Quoted above) in the Parking World article about the cost of parking in India. You can read it here.

To be “fair, ” Pete asks the question, but looks to locals in India for the answer. They dodge the question a bit, then settle on the tried and true. It’s fair some places, unfair in others, and depending on location, the traffic, weather, phases of the moon, the rates should be adjusted to “fit.”

I note that the local Indian Blogger does pay homage to the free market in certain instances, but “subsidy,” is important when you want to entice people to use public transport (free or cheap parking at the stations.)

I’m more concerned about the use of the term “fair.” Just what is “fair,” and to whom? If the government subsidizes parking then that means that everyone pays for the parking, including those that don’t own cars, and in India, that’s the majority. So is the subsidy “fair” to the non car owner? I think not.

What about the developer who builds a parking lot to serve an area of the community? He has not asked for government support, he simply has seen a need and tried to fill it. When the government subsidizes on street and its own government owned off street parking, it means that it will be impossible for the developer to set his rates at the market price, since the government has artificially lowered the price with subsidy. So is the price set by the state “fair” to him. (I note our blogger friend would set the price for the developer based on “return” on investment, and not on the free market.)

What about drivers? If the prices are set low, or are free, then there will be not be enough spaces available and those who are willing to pay to park will have no place to park. In addition, if on street prices are subsidized and set lower than off street, drivers will naturally cruise and look for a cheaper price, thus congesting the streets rather than quickly select a less expensive off street space. Is this “fair” to all the drivers who are finding their way through the streets of Delhi or Mumbai?

This is the problem with “fair,” Pete – when you make things “fair” for one group, you tend to make them “unfair” to others. Those who don’t own cars pay for those who do. Those who try to provide a service are told that they shouldn’t do so, and let the state do it. Those who drive are forced to sit in congested streets while others look for cheap spaces, even though parking is readily available nearby.

What if we asked the question like this: “Are India’s parking rates correct?” We could set some criteria (congestion, number of available spaces, etc) and then see if the rates affect those. To check if they are “fair” is a tad too subjective for me. Certainly those concerned with ‘fair’ don’t want me to be the judge, nor I them.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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