Why Drivers Should Pay to Park on Residential Streets
Eric Jaffe | The Atlantic Cities | October 15, 2013 | link
There are lots of reasons to charge city drivers for street parking. Street space belongs to everyone, competition for spots causes congestion, underpriced parking encourages driving — the list goes on. As private car owners benefit from these curbside subsidies, it’s the public welfare that suffers.
Things aren’t so bad on commercial streets, where drivers have been perfectly willing to pay for a spot. Several U.S. cities have started to charge market-rate street prices in business districts with great success. But commercial parking makes up only a sliver of all city street space; in New York, for instance, commercial meters account for just 2 percent of the street-parking stock, whereas residential spots account for most of the rest.
That’s a problem, because city drivers are traditionally unwilling to pay for a spot on a residential street. Some cities do require residential parking permits, but the fees tend to be nominal (the U.S. high is about $100 a year) and don’t reflect proper value of the space. Public officials tend to view residential street parking charges as a political poison.
This conventional wisdom stops most cities from raising residential permit rates. But while it may describe the mindsets of many city drivers, it doesn’t apply to all of them. In an upcoming issue of Transport Policy, transport researchers Zhan Guo of New York University and Simon McDonnell of the City University of New York report that roughly 53 percent of New Yorkers are willing to pay something for residential street spaces — and this something averaged about $400 a year:
The greater-than-50% approval rate and the high price tag both indicate that pricing curb parking for residents is feasible, at least in our sample.