Coming soon: Parking rates that go up at busiest times
By CostBenefit on Jan 3, 2011 | In General, Air, Energy, Climate Change GHG Carbon CO2, Companies,CSR,Business,Finance, Transportation, Washington & Oregon, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Costs and Benefits
Until now, Seattle ... parking fees [were] relatively inexpensive and straightforward. But one of city government's New Year's resolutions is to embark on a new age of market-based pricing, ultimately charging more on the busiest blocks at the busiest times...
Seattle officials hope variable fees will inspire a quicker turnover of ... parking spaces, boosting commerce and reducing carbon [emissions] In some U.S. urban neighborhoods, as much as 30 percent of all traffic is caused by people who circle the blocks looking for an opening.
Market-based prices largely are based on the work of UCLA professor Donald Shoup, author of "The High Cost of Free Parking," who has earned a cult following among green activists and urban planners. His research suggests an ideal occupancy of 85 percent for curbside spaces, a figure often cited by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
Shoup lauded Seattle as the first U.S. city to declare ... that there should be "one or two parking spaces" available per block. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Redwood City, Calif., as well as Washington, D.C., and New York, already are trying variable pricing in certain neighborhoods.
Parking is ... bringing in $70 million this year, through lot taxes, meter income and revenue from about 500,000 citations. That revenue protected the transportation budget from severe cuts during this recession.... The top rate ... will increase this spring to $4, to help a struggling city budget. McGinn has suggested some downtown spaces could fetch $6 to $7, if the city demanded full market value.
The City Council's 2011 budget also would extend paid parking through 8 p.m. and launch a "smart boot" project to immobilize vehicles with at least four unpaid parking tickets.
But first, SDOT will publish its data on parking trends in mid-January, then take several weeks to reprogram meters to reflect new neighborhood-level rates.... Instead of the existing five rates, there could be a dozen or more combinations.
By 2012, the city could customize rates block by block and add the next variable — changing by time of day. The strategy would resemble the new Highway 520 bridge tolls next spring, which in the morning peak are proposed to be $3.50 each way, but a trip at night would cost only $1.10.
Portland business stakeholders balked at a similar proposal last year, but the Rose City soon will experiment with "progressive" rates near Portland State University .... The first hour would cost $1.50, followed by rising rates in the second and third hours.
Streetline Networks, based in San Francisco, has developed in-street magnetic sensors that detect when a car is parked. Data is transmitted to a relay system mounted in a pay station, then sent to a central control hub. Filled and open spots [can be shown on an Ipad]. Parking officers can see ... where cars are sitting overtime, and head out to write tickets. ... An iPhone app can send real-time price and space updates to motorists.... Parking Carma and Vehicle Sense offer car-detection products, and Parking Carma also offers online lot and garage reservations.
An SFPark video claims a looser parking supply will help drivers notice pedestrians and bicycles, instead of seeking out open curbs.
It should be technically possible to change rates every few minutes. That would resemble Highway 167 high-occupancy toll lanes, where prices continuously shift in a range from 50 cents to $9 if a solo driver wants to pay for faster travel in the carpool lane. But even Shoup says that's a decade away.
by Mike Lindblom
FOR FULL STORY GO TO: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/mobile/?type=story&id=2013799522
Seattle Times www.seattletimes.com
December 30, 2010
Additional information is available at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/tolling_pricing/value_pricing/index.htm
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