Have a burning question? If it's good we'll put it here!
1. How can anything free be bad?
Free parking does not allow us to make smart decisions about how to park our cars efficiently. It is a subsidy to those that own cars and a hidden cost for those who choose to use public transit, bicycle, or walk as a means of travel. It places the same value on all parking, regardless of local conditions related to place or time of day that might create a higher demand for the space.
2. How does free parking increase the cost of housing and retail goods?
Parking costs between $10,000 and $50,000(USD) per space to build. These costs are folded in to the the sales price of a home and are added to the costs of products by retailers that provide free parking.
3. Won't charging customers more for parking cause them to shop elsewhere?
Not finding a parking space will also drive customers away. It is important to realize that the longer a person is staying in an area the farther they are willing to walk from the parking place to a retail business. Thus if a person is only stopping by for 20 minutes to purchase something, their cost will be relatively small vs. someone who's parking for four hours. They will park a little farther away to take advantage of reduced parking rates. Meanwhile, if priced correctly, everyone who wants a parking space will find one.
4. Should parking ever be free?
Yes, when the demand for parking is low it makes sense for it to be free. Often this will be in farther to reach places (good for employees), or off-peak hours.
5. If taxes pay to build the parking, why should we pay again to park in a parking spot?
Driving around the block looking for parking will almost always cost you more in wasted time than paying for a parking spot. The extra revenue generated from parking fees should be returned to you either in a tax rebate or in services that you greatly appreciate.
6. Wont charging more for parking hurt people with limited incomes?
When done carelessly, parking costs can amount to a regressive tax. It is important to remember that owning and operating a car is very expensive and parking costs are part of that. To support all people multiple types of transport needs to be available. The lowest cost transportation options are (in this order): walking, bicycling, transit and car-pooling/ lift-sharing. Parking revenues that support these modes of transport will necessarily be more equitable. Finally considered targeted parking subsidies for low income drivers.
7. When should a community consider building a parking garage?
When area-wide parking rates are high enough the private sector will step in and build new parking facilities. If a community is considering building a public garage, they should weigh the cost of providing a parking space against the cost of reducing demand by encouraging walking, car-pooling, bicycling and transit. Investments in sustainable transportation are a cost effective and more equitable way to solve a parking problem.
Email your burning question to firstname.lastname@example.org