The Third Party


The Third Party

I have been railing about the problems of putting market based on street pricing in effect, particularly in communities around colleges and universities where residential neighborhoods run right up against the school and the students/faculty park there rather than in university lots.

The other issue is that there is typically student housing surrounding the schools and there isn’t enough parking so the students park in the neighborhoods, causing the residents to haul out the torches and pitchforks and attack city hall.

The city dads then try to make the world safe for everyone and cut the baby in half. By doing so no one is happy and the problems simply keep getting worse and worse. No one is going to mention the fact that if there was paid parking in the neighborhoods, everyone would benefit and all would be right with the world.

See, it works like this:

You set up a parking control district that includes both the on street and available off street parking in a particular area. You can, if you like, provide a parking permit to each homeowner for no charge, and then if they need more, they can pay the going rate.)They should be parking in their garage anyway.) You then sell permits to whoever needs to park in the area at the market rate. You can also sell permits for unused spaces at the local church, bank, amusement park, or shopping center. If the shopping center knows that it is never full and has 20 spaces always available, then sell 20 permits for those spaces.

You then compensate each area based on the amount of money collected, both from fines and from the permit sales. So the residential areas would get new street lights, or sidewalks, or perhaps an extra police patrol or two, the businesses would be compensated for the use of their property and the students, best of all, would have an alternative to no place to park. It is seldom an issue of not having the money to park (after all they could afford the car,  the gas, the insurance, and maintenance) its simply not having the ability to purchase parking anywhere. Beside when better to learn that you have to pay your own way that at college.

The problem is typically political. Politicians, like the local council, are simply unable to "sell" this type of program to the local citizens. They fold at the first hint of resistance. What you need is a third party who is vested in the deal to sell it and market the results. 

I suggest that this is a great opportunity for private operators to provide assistance where its needed, and make a few shekels on the side. Of course they would have to become experts in the science of market based parking pricing and returning the results to the neighborhoods from whence it came, but why not?

I know this is a simplistic view, but can anyone come up with a reason it won’t work?

Plenty of space below to knock the pins out from under me.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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