Parking and the Pump


Parking and the Pump

We’re all paying through the nose at the pump these days, especially those of us in California. I don’t look too closely at the price per gallon, because I’m going to fill up my tank either way – I’m fortunate that way. I know the $6 mark was passed up a few weeks ago – and that is a lot higher than the $.89 I remember from my first days as a driver. 

I gasp at the total on the screen when I’m finished filling my tank. It’s a big number and I’m not even driving a gas guzzler.

I’ve been asking myself what other areas of my life are affected by high gas prices. I know eating out has gotten more expensive, and we aren’t eager to plan a road trip.

What do astronomical gas prices do to the parking industry? If I speculate, I start by assuming there is a direct link between high gas prices, fewer miles driven, and less money spent on parking.

However, the people I know are so anxious to move around after two years of a pandemic that they are not really talking about gas prices – they are just making reservations. 

Parking profits related to travel might be fine given the pent-up demand.

Residential parking profits – for condominiums, complexes, streets with permit parking, and so on are probably pretty fixed. People have to pay to park where they live and that doesn’t change.

Most of us are back to shopping and eating out, going to malls and entertainment venues. Again, there’s a lot of interest in going back to “normal” activities, and that interest takes the focus off the cost of driving and parking.

My husband used to commute to work, but he’s been working at home since March 2020. He’s still only going to his office two or three times a month – and thank goodness. If he were commuting two hours every day, we would be spending enormous amounts on gas. But he didn’t pay for parking in the first place. 

For people who pay for parking related to their employment, they probably don’t have to decide now whether or not they drive to work. They returned to work and that decision was made quite some time ago. 

Decline in job-related parking costs hit bottom in 2020 and can only be improving. So, that section of parking industry profitability might not be affected by high gas prices.

I’d say municipal and university parking profits will not change – people aren’t worried about the cost of short trips by car – though maybe they should be. Those who can’t afford gas were likely already using public transportation or some other means of conveyance. 

University parking took a hit when the pandemic started, but now most students are back on campus and parking the way they always have.

I’m thinking out loud, sort of. It’s important to consider the ripple effects. I’ve got another question rolling around in my head: Will parking prices go up like everything else?

I spoke with my 77-year-old dad the other day. He’s a smart guy, well read, good at math, and rational. We had a nice talk and then came round to the state of our economy. He said the United States is going down the toilet – an opinion I think he shares with many of his age group. 

He impatiently tried to explain to me the basics of inflation. I took an economics class a long time ago and don’t remember a thing. He was justifiably annoyed and told me I’d better do some reading. He also gave me his opinion about who’s to blame for current inflation, and that is another column entirely.

Inflation is affecting me – though not as much as it’s affecting others. As prices go up and up, I’m hoping there is a reverse pattern soon, though not a catastrophic reversal, as I’ve read that could happen, too, and I don’t want to find out what it means.

My groceries bills have doubled and it feels like they’ve tripled. There are four of us in the house – my husband and two daughters and we love food, but aren’t big eaters. 

I’m looking at a friend with three teenage sons and wondering what her groceries are costing. They go through 8 gallons a week of milk. We’re lucky to get through half a gallon before it spoils.

I don’t think our country is going down the toilet, but it’s definitely in turmoil. We are socially and politically unstable. Our economy is punishing – especially for those with the lowest incomes. I wish I had all the answers.

My only answer is gratitude and a little bit of hope. I have a home and food to eat, so I’m grateful. And I think many of today’s problems, including the price of gas, will sort themselves out – then we can worry about tomorrow’s problems.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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