Don Shoup’s Parking Agenda is more profound than you think


Don Shoup’s Parking Agenda is more profound than you think

Paul Barter, Assistant Professor in the LKY School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore (NUS), has a "infrastructure blog" and holds forth on all things dealing with infrastructure here.

He talks about Shoup's theories and evokes a number of interesting questions and comments, one from a current Shoup student:

I am in Shoup's graduate class on parking at UCLA right now. I asked him about the association between markets and right-wing ideologies. He made a careful distinction between the "free-marking" neoliberal ideology and the simple idea of using market incentives. He thinks we should use market incentives. Prices are a market incentive that influences transportation choices; price parking right, and you encourage other modes of transportation while eliminating cruising. The price and value of land is also an opportunity cost. Developers should face market incentives when they decide how much parking to build, rather than being required to dedicate vast amounts of valuable land to parking.

The "free-market" ideology usually comes with more drastic claims about privatization. You'll find none of those in Shoup's book. He thinks that public entities (like city governments) can successfully use market incentives to manage resources like curb parking.

Paul Responds:

Yes, I agree, Prof Shoup is calling for deregulation off-street but he is NOT calling for privatisation of on-street parking. He just calls for market-like incentives for the public-sector owned on-street parking.

As a matter of fact, the links I provided in the post as examples of people who embrace the market-orientation of Shoup's suggestions do indeed both suggest different kinds of privatisation or in one case a kind of public-private partnership for the on-street parking. These might be taken as rather neoliberal (certainly Klein uses neoliberal rhetoric and Siebert's article is published in a rather neoliberal outlet in Austrlia).

My interest at the moment is more on the off-street parking. Shoup talks about private choices being allowed to determine off-street parking supply but doesn't explicitly talk about markets. My paper argues that Shoup's ideas do point towards more market-based off-street parking.

This also suggests to me that we may need to keep an eye on how such markets develop, to make sure these markets work well. Local monopoly is one possible problem but there are others which I discuss in the paper. For example, if local parking markets don't get going by themselves maybe we should try to kick-start them? So I suggest we may need some 'market-fostering' policies.

By the way, the CBDs of big cities sometimes already have something akin to local parking markets off-street. And regulators are already keeping an eye on them. There have been anti-trust investigations of city-centre parking in some American and Australian cities to make sure there is enough competition.

Interesting stuff and good insight

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