Why Does Parking Cost Money? A PIE Seminar


Why Does Parking Cost Money? A PIE Seminar

Most people don’t understand why parking costs money. As consultants, we spend a lot of time explaining to community members the value of a parking space. 

Books have been published and theories have been tested and the one thing that we all understand is that parking has value. 

Parking is a resource for any municipality, yet it is usually expected to be provided as a public good. Taxpayers have subsidized these projects, but often enjoy the privilege of utilizing public roads and parking for no additional charge. 

How many other shared resources are offered free of charge to all, with 100 percent of the costs for providing it fronted by the local government? Not many. The idea of paid parking is therefore an attempt to balance the equation.

This PIE session will be a debate and interactive discussion as we consider the variety of perspectives about the value of parking. We will consider the following core concepts:

• Parking is Valuable

• Parking is a Finite Resource

• Parking Generates Revenue

• Parking Influences the Economy

• Parking is a Privilege 

• Parking Must be Equitable 

• Parking Can Influence Behavior

• Parking Impacts the Environment

There are costs associated with both owning and operating parking assets including the cost of the land itself, as well as the ongoing maintenance, upkeep, data collection, analysis, administration, customer support, and enforcement. 

As density increases, parking resources become more limited, and we need to be concerned about equitable access to parking. 

Dynamic pricing rates are great, but you have to consider are you pricing out community members. 

There is a substantial cost to merchants and the local economy when prime parking spaces are constantly occupied and do not transition throughout the day. We have repeatedly seen that the implementation of parking management solutions can improve access for customers and increase sales tax revenue. 

Paid parking is not always the answer. Consistent management of parking resources is critical to ensure access and ease of use. 

And we cannot forget that public parking is not a right, it’s a privilege, and not everyone uses it. 

One strong argument for why parking should cost money is that paid parking can be more equitable than free parking. There are always bottom-line costs to providing free parking, and free parking ends up benefiting the few who can afford to take advantage of it. 

When parking is free, then everyone bears the burden of paying for parking, even those who do not use it. 

There is no one answer but take the time to participate in the discussion and debate. We are all Parking Evangelists. Let’s use this session to discuss and learn from each other then we can carry the message to the masses together. 

Tuesday, May 17

Article contributed by:
Julie Dixon
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