Parking fact of the day

Several studies have found that cruising for curb parking generates about 30 percent of the traffic in central business districts. In a recent survey conducted by Bruce Schaller in the SoHo district in Manhattan, 28 percent of drivers interviewed while they were stopped at traffic lights said they were searching for curb parking. A similar study conducted by Transportation Alternatives in the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn found that 45 percent of drivers were cruising.

…What causes this astonishing waste? As is often the case, the prices are wrong. A national study of downtown parking found that the average price of curb parking is only 20 percent that of parking in a garage, giving drivers a strong incentive to cruise.

Here is more, from Donald Shoup.


I do this all the time, especially on weekends in DC when meter parking is free. For example, I never park at the zoo. I always go up and down Connecticut Avenue several times waiting for a spot to open.

This seems to be at least part of the motivation behind

The waste could be prevented by not providing curb parking at any price.

I keep seeing stickers on DC Meters and pay stations that garages are now cheaper than curb spots. san francisco trying to address this issue

How about internet connected wifi parking meters that detect cars in the space or report whether the meter time has run out with a car in the space.

An app shows where the meter space is not occupied or that the parker is past due.

No need to cruise OR everyone runs to the same empty parking space and crashes. Efficient meter enforcement as well.

Since this a public forum, you can't get a patent for this idea. Na, Nah, Nah.

Also, meters should do time of day pricing to extract the most value and relieve conjestion.

Bernard Yomtov: Don't know about where you are, but business-area NYC is supersaturated with Parking Enforcement personnel. Chance of not paying and getting caught on-street parking is at least 75% during peak times.

What mattmc Said:

"What we have now is a system where the street parking is optimized for short term use (2 hours or less) and the garage parking is for longer term. Having higher [on-street parking] prices wouldn't affect my behavior at all."

If anything, the garage prices for short-term are too =high=. Given the choice between $12 for half an hour (plus tip, and the extra time retrieving the car would take) and burning some gas looking for an on-street spot, it's an easy decision. At $5-6 for an hour, garage parking can be rationalized. But apparently the garages are all near capacity with "10/12 hour" cars--or would prefer to keep the extra capacity idle.

"What causes this astonishing waste? As is often the case, the prices are wrong."
Are you sure its waste? Is it really astonishing? And is it the prices of the meters that are wrong or the prices of the garages? I would tend to think that the cost of cruising is not waste, but is actually the cost of finding the correct market value of parking garages.

The garages can charge a premium due in part to the fact that there is no (or at least not as much of a) need to drive around looking for a spot. If some people are still driving around, while others are not, doesn't that indicate that the premium is set somewhere near the correct price? If meter prices go up to the point that everyone or nearly everyone goes to the garage, isn't it likely that the garages will increase their prices as well, until they drive at least some customers back to cruising and something close to the current equilibrium is reached again?

It's easy enough not to let the car out of the garage without paying, but what about meters? Do you employ an army of meter readers to issue tickets, which have to be pretty expensive? I bet that won't go over big with the public.

I can't tell if you're writing this from a different century or a different planet.

How was this sample obtained? By knocking on car windows and asking the driver what he/she is doing? If so, my guess is this study overstates cruising. If you have the time to spend a few extra minutes driving around looking for a space, you're more likely to have the time to stop and talk to a surveyor for a second or two.

Hopefully new technology will help close the gap. It's a lot easier to charge $6 an hour at a meter when a person can swipe a credit card or phone instead of inserting 20 quarters.

I'll start with 2:

4 million new items are added to eBay every single day.

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.

I think Shoup's analysis is right on, because it gives a good explanation for the parking situation in my own town. I attend school in Amherst where, in the downtown area, parking is hard to come by, especially on street. There is a garage, but it has some ridiculous rate. Some folks even theorize that scarce parking is encouraged not only to give incentives to take the bus, but also to generate revenue from tickets and car towing. There's even a website dedicated to the "Amherst Parking Trap".

Just a few minutes down the road though, in Northampton, parking is pretty easy to find. There is street parking at 50 cents an hour, but also a huge garage (never full) that charges the same rate with the first hour free. From what I can tell, most people just park in the garage unless they happen to pass by an empty spot. There's in-town traffic congestion, but that's probably just from commuters, not parking scouts.

This is a really small scale example since these towns are miniature compared to New York or DC, but I do think the garage vs. street parking rates make sense.

"I wonder if there's any hay to be made by renting your car on an ad-hoc basis to someone else. Like a bikesharing pool, or ZipCar, but administered as a club rather than an organization. You'd probably drive to work in one car, and come back in another."

Have you ever seen what people do to actual rental cars they have to check back in? Could you imagine what people would do to a car they could just walk away from when they were done with it? Who would change the oil or wash the cars? Who would get them fixed or buy new tires? Unless the club included a huge percentage of the people in a city I would imagine that there'd also be an extremely high likelihood (if not certainty) of becoming stranded on a regular basis.

This makes it clear that parking problems are evident everywhere and are all very similar in problems... I would argue that the best way to find a parking space is to simply keep driving until you find one... Really straightforward but it makes sense and something i talk about in my personal blog

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