The Chicago Tribune has embraced, at least on its news pages, the concept of free market pricing of parking fees. Read all about it here.
It notes that Chicago is experimenting with the concept in two areas of the city, that Redwood City, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Anchorage are or have been doing the same. Setting those rates so that 15% of the spaces are empty (about one per block). That means that people will easily be able to find space and cruising will cease.
Cruising is one of the major problems in most central cities. Cars go round and round, an average of 4 to 6 additional minutes of driving, just trying to find a space. When you compute the gas, pollution, and congestion caused by cruising, you see the problem.
Now, Don Shoup, the evangelist for market based pricing has embraced the concept that the real way to help with "Global Warming" if you believe that man can do anything about it, is to raise on street parking prices, and either force people to go directly into off street lots where parking is available, or use a different mode of transportation.
Makes sense to me. I tried to find a space to park last week when I went to the gym. I parked four blocks away and walked. By the time I got there, I didn’t need to work out. Not a bad thing. Now I’m thinking a bit differently about how and where I will park when I go there. One of the problems is that the gym I use is right across the street from a really fancy hotel. There are a lot of limos that take spaces in the area. Of course, they don’t pay. Now, if they had to pay market rates to park, they would find an alternative (like the very large open lot behind the hotel that is reserved for employees. They could "stage" there and open up probably a dozen spaces on the street. However, since parking fees aren’t very high in the area, and since regs aren’t enforced, nothing is done and I have to walk four blocks.
Parking is a resource and it needs to be protected and preserved. One way is to charge what its worth to the users.
City after city are looking at these approaches and are signing on. Will NYC be next.