Variable rates make parking easier?


Variable rates make parking easier?

I’m not sure I dare disagree with a parking expert like Donald Shoup, but as a parking civilian, I have my doubts about at least one of his theories. I think the difference in our perspectives is the crux of the issue – an expert and an ignoramus rarely agree. But I still feel entitled to share my opinion – that is the beauty of the internet. And I welcome any and all critical comments.

At, I just read an article about variable rate pricing being implemented in Washington D.C. parking meters. This move is meant to make parking easier for the parking public. According to the article:

All this is part of an attempt to ensure a minimum number of vacant spots at any given time.

I’ll try not to use the words “dude” or “totally” in the rest of this blog, because I’m sure I sound like Bill or Ted, but won’t unpredictable prices make it harder for people to park? We’re all used to looking for parking when it’s scarce, but we aren’t used to guessing about how much our parking will cost at different times of the day. I understand how the variable system works: discourage a some people from parking during peak hours and make more parking available to everybody else.

What that means to me is that this new approach will make it easier for people to park – but not exactly all people.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. Variable pricing, performance pricing or whatever you want to call it is only one “tool” in developing a strategy for managing parking effectively, it needs to be used in tandem with other “tools” in order for it to be effective. If you raise the hourly on-street rate from $1/hr to $5/hr without also providing an alternative to those people that are not willing or able to pay the $5/hr then all you’ve accomplished is the creation of empty parking spaces.

    There is no single strategy or “silver bullet” that in and of itself cures, or solves any and all parking related issues. The idea of any parking management strategy should be to maximize the use of all available parking spaces in the most efficient manner possible. Variable pricing can be a very effective tool if implemented in along with additional strategies and programs, but by itself it can create as many (or more) problems than it solves.

  2. I, for one, listen to the ignoramus, but I call him a customer. I never liked treating parking like a commodity. I agree with Dr. Shoup that it is not a right, but I also believe that “on-the-fly” variable pricing scares the consumer and can really tick them off. Ultimately, like rta says above, you need to arm yourself with a a bunch of tools and tactics and figure out what works best for your customers.

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