Finding a parking spot is never easy.
While there are times that drivers get lucky and find a vacant spot at their destination, those stories seem to be far less frequent than the horror stories of circling the block endlessly in frustration.
There is a lot of debate in how to solve parking problems, at times it’s exhaust…ing, so this series of blogs aims to add some economic and technological basis for understanding and solving the parking problem.
First, the problem…
Parking is notoriously inefficient and costly.
Parking is one of the few areas that has yet to undergo a digital revolution. It is still characterized by very splintered supply and a very specific, time-sensitive demand. Moreover, drivers cannot see what their parking options are ahead of time. And so they can’t choose the parking options that best fits them.
Too many parking spots?
There are hundreds of millions of parking spots but we can never seem to find one. So, we opt to add more.
While adding parking seems like a good idea, it is often subjective as to what is the right amount to add. Estimates show that there are as many as 800 million parking spots across America. This represents as many as 3 parking spots for each of America’s 250 Million cars. Of course, that statistic is misleading as the spots are permanent and demanded parking spots is dynamic (who is looking for a parking spot at 10 pm at a big box store?).
How Much Parking Do We Need?
What’s more concerning is that there are few public initiatives to make better use of the existing spaces, and endless regulations that continue to pave the way to more under-used parking.
Zoning requirements are demanding (and ultimately subjective), policies seem to add more pavement, but not necessarily in the right places. A few sad examples of the ‘rationale’ behind parking requirements can be seen in Donald Shoup’s (Author of “The High Cost of Free Parking”) presentation (see min 16).
More Parking Comes at a High Price
While we might think more parking is better, more parking can prove to hamper a city’s growth and impair its quality of life. In studies conducted by Garrick et al of UConn, some cities lose upwards of $1000/ per parking space, per year. That figure comes from lower tax revenue generated by parking spaces vs. buildings. To quantify that loss, Garrick cites Hartford, that loses an estimated $50 million per year in tax revenue due to the oversupply of parking.
Of course, this foregone revenue is made up by either higher taxes or smaller budgets for other (more important) services. So too much parking also has a price.
In the coming blog entries, we’ll explore: why, if there are so many parking spots, drivers can’t seem to find a parking spot? and what can be done to solve that?.