Chicago and Congestion Parking Pricing


Chicago and Congestion Parking Pricing

Chicago is going to institute a program of dedicated bus lanes to help decrease bus commuter times. Using a grant from the Feds, the city will create bus lanes on city streets, and install a high tech system so the bus can signal the traffic lights and get a longer “green” so they can make it through intersections more quickly. They are also buying bigger buses and speeding up fare collection.

In concert with this, the city will increase parking rates downtown to attempt to discourage folks from driving. This congestion parking pricing will be higher during peak hours and back off after hours and on weekends.

They are marginally going in the right direction, however the best way to set the rates, is to do it so that there is always parking available on street. By setting pricing high enough so that there is always a space available on each block face, they ensure that people always have a place to park and don’t have to cruise to look for parking spaces. This will take cars off the street quickly and reduce congestion. If they just pull a number out of the air, say $5 and hour, they may find that there are a lot of people who will pay that price. If so, the parking will be filled, and people will be cruising to find spaces. However if they set the price based on the market value of the spaces, in other words, a price that will keep just a few spaces always available, both problems will be solved.

This plan, Congestion Parking Pricing, makes a lot more sense than the “London” approach which simply charges cars for the right to drive in the central city. In fact, they aren’t really sure the congestion pricing really works, because the mayor of London has been accused of “diddlying” the numbers to make the program appear successful while third party studies of actual traffic congestion shows little if any change.

In this approach, people can decide which type of transportation to take, car, bus, subway, bike, car pool, or foot based on the amount of time they are spending in the city and what they are willing to pay for the convenience of having a parking space. With the “London” approach, the car pays the same whether or not they are just driving through or are spending a few hours.

Hat Tip – John Hammerschlag




John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. Nearby here in S.F. they are experimenting with pay-by-phone parking, with an approach that could be adapted to use for congestion pricing for street parking meters and in parking garages. Perhaps Chicago could do a similar experiment. This approach could be upgraded to include checking-by-cell-phone re when the next bus will arrive

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