Shoup Dogg, Parking Policy Cult Hero, Fills Fordham Auditorium

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Spencer Wilking reports:

There’s nothing more blessed to the New York City driver than finding an open parking spot. Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, would like New Yorkers to reconsider that ideal. The parking policy cult hero addressed a crowd at Fordham’s Pope Auditorium Monday evening. His mission: Eliminate free parking.

"Some people think that charging for curb parking is un-American. I think it is very American to ask people to pay for what they use," Shoup said. "We’re not a nation of freeloaders."

Shoup contends that much of the congestion on New York City streets is due to drivers circling the block, hunting for that elusive free parking spot. Shoup’s bold plan is to charge more for curbside parking, which he believes would free up more parking space for people who need it, reduce congestion-causing cruising and generate funds for local street improvement projects. He also said that his ideas on parking would be easier to implement than Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan.

Armed with a Powerpoint presentation, Shoup displayed Al Gorian flare, weaving humor, amusing visuals and staggering facts to keep his audience both entertained and informed.

Shoup’s lively lecture and the fact that he may very well be the only academic in America to focus solely on parking policy has earned him cult hero status in the world of urban planning. In his introduction, Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives joked that Shoup is a rock star who "prefers loose tweed to leather." With his characteristic droll delivery, Shoup replied, "Maybe I should change my name to Shoup Dogg."

The professor began his lecture by illustrating the ills of American parking policy, first citing the staggering amount of real estate Americans allocate for cars. He believes faulty public policy has created a culture that expects free parking everywhere. "The planning process has gone wrong and it costs a lot of money," said Shoup. "Because we so deviate from normal business practice with curb parking we get these very inferior results."

In New York City, this is compounded by the cost differential between curbside parking and private lot parking. Shoup says the low, often free, cost of curbside parking versus the high cost of off-the-street parking has created a perverse situation in which drivers are more inclined to cruise around hoping to be rewarded with a free parking spot.

Shoup quoted Seinfeld’s George Costanza to sum up the essential New Yorker attitude when it comes to curbside parking: "It’s like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?"

Calling Manhattan "the capital of cruising," Shoup cited several recent studies on cruising to demonstrate its contribution to gridlock. Bruce Schaller, a deputy commissioner at the Department of Transportation found that 28 percent of drivers in SoHo were looking for curb parking. A similar study conducted by Transportation Alternatives in Park Slope concluded that 45 percent of drivers were cruising.

To limit the amount of cruising and balance the supply and demand of parking, Shoup suggests the city should allow the price of curbside parking to float upwards until each block reaches 85 percent occupancy, or about one free parking spot per block.
Shoup calls this the Goldilocks principle: "Parking prices shouldn’t be too high, or too low. They should be just right."

Shoup says that the price of curbside parking should vary according to time and location, much like the pricing of hotel rooms. "If you turned parking supply over to the hospitality industry they would figure out how to do it," said Shoup.

To ease store owners’ fears of losing customers to increased parking costs, Shoup suggests that merchants get a cut of the parking revenue. A large portion of the cash created by new parking costs would go local Business Improvement Districts that would use the money to improve the streetscape, making commercial corridors more pleasurable for pedestrians.

Shoup offered three California cities where this type of parking policy has been implemented successfully. Pasadena, Redwood City and Glendale were able to revitalize their downtown shopping districts by increasing the cost of parking and funneling those funds into public space improvement projects.

The issue of congestion pricing was conspicuously missing from Shoup’s talk. The only mention of congestion pricing came in Paul Steely White’s introduction saying that Shoup’s ideas on parking were "not an alternative to congestion pricing, but a complement." However, talking to Dr. Shoup after the lecture he suggested that his reforms would be more feasible than the Mayor’s plan due to the controlled pace of implementation. "The city can do the parking first because it can be done in small increments,"
he said.

Shoup did have some skeptics. Hilary Kitasei, of the Lower East Side, voiced concern over the increased movement of cars that parking reform seeks to create from parking turnover. "New Yorkers wouldn’t dare drive for fear that they’ll lose their space. Once you create this wonderful environment where it’s possible to drive to other neighborhoods, why would I stay home at night? It seems like this city could be unleashing a much worse nightmare than what we have now," she said.

Shoup also had some ideas about the influx of city parking permits — a long abused system that lacks accountability. He says New York City employees are three times more likely to drive to work. Shoup believes that the city could offer employees cash to get these permits off the street. "If you told these permit holders we’ll give you $500 a month to surrender your permit I bet a lot of them would give up that permit," he said.

Over 100 people filled Fordham’s Pope Auditorium to hear Dr. Shoup speak. He’s in New York to further his "no free parking" campaign, meet with BID leaders, city agency officials and the press. Shoup’s theories are detailed in his 700-page opus, "The High Cost of Free Parking" (Chicago:
Planners Press, 2005).

Reported by Spencer Wilking for Streetsblog.
Photo: Stan Paul, UCLA School of Public Affairs.

  • Charlie D.

    I love quotes they get from average people:

    ———
    “New Yorkers wouldn’t dare drive for fear that they’ll lose their space. Once you create this wonderful environment where it’s possible to drive to other neighborhoods, why would I stay home at night? It seems like this city could be unleashing a much worse nightmare than what we have now,” she said.
    ———

    Well if more people starting driving and parking, then the prices would go higher and higher until it became a no-brainer to use mass transit, bike, or walk. Who are all these people who are just yearning to drive around for the heck of it?

  • Steve

    I saw Shoup last spring so I decided to attend the CB 8 Transporation Committee on Monday meeting instead. I listened to one of the committee members browbeat the DoT representative with comments like “bicycles are a primitive form of transportation,” “why is the city spending all this money on bike lanes when bicyclists are 1%,” and “bicyclists are a minority but they are getting all the resources” and other gems.

    Then the same committee members attacked the DoT guy over the need to decontrol two parking spaces that are designated “No Standing,” with lots of sanctimonious drivel about how they are “returning to the community what belongs to the community.”

    There was an interesting discussion about the possbility of de-commissioning the “play block” on E. 91st Street from the grid, or turning it into a park. Apparently the bike lane fight galvanized the residents and now they are considering even more dramatic measures to protect their play block. I told them they should be focusing their efforts on creating more pedestrianized blocks rather than on excluding people from the current one.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I love quotes they get from average people

    Hilary Kitasei is not exactly an average person. I may disagree with her often, but her comments and observations (including this one) are always insightful.

  • epc

    We should eliminate on-street parking entirely, at least in midtown and downtown. Ease up on the restrictions against building stand-alone parking garages and get the stationary vehicles off the streets.

  • Charlie D.

    Perhaps I used poor terminology. By “average”, I meant someone who is not in an official position.

  • Jonathan

    @epc, motorcars parked curbside keep traffic from running down pedestrians… on the sidewalk.

    @Charlie D.: count me in. I love to drive during offpeak hours because it’s quick and convenient, but it’s a pain to find parking. Perfect example: my friends are having a party on Saturday at their home on DeKalb & Throop Aves in Brooklyn. I live in upper Manhattan. Getting there on mass transit involves two subways and a bus, on Saturday night, and according to the MTA website, will take more than an hour. If I drive, I’m there, with my guest, in 45 minutes max. And I can come back whenever I want, not whenever the B52 happens to be running.

    I would gladly pay for some kind of metered parking so I could find a spot near my house on the return trip.

  • Charlie D.

    Jonathan, thanks for the example. I’m a little bit confused though. Why would you park your car at a meter near your home? Wouldn’t that be very expensive? If you really need a car for occasional trips outside of Manhattan, it sounds to me like ZipCar would be a better fit. That way, you won’t have to worry about finding a parking space when you come back home.

  • Jonathan

    Charlie D, your question asked “Who are all these people who are just yearning to drive around for the heck of it?” I am one of them, and what I am trying to say is that I would gladly pay a fee for Shoupian ASP if it made it more likely that I would find a parking space within a block or two of my home at two in the morning.

    I hope you are not a paid shill for a car-rental company. I’ve looked into the company you mentioned, and their garages are too far from my house to make sense. When I come back from a party at two a.m., it doesn’t make sense to return the car immediately to a garage a half-hour walk from my house.

  • vnm

    Jonathan,

    ZipCar is expanding their car-sharing model hopefully to your block soon. I am not a shill. Not even a customer, but I appreciate their model because it drastically takes away the need for car storage while still providing the mobility of a car for those who seek it.

    epc, the more parking garages are built, the harder it is to find land for housing (i.e., housing becomes even less affordable), and the more traffic we have. I’m not sure your idea of building garages is going to help much. People just have to bite the bullet and drive less.

  • Charlie D.

    Don’t worry, I’m not a shill. Just trying to find the best solution to your problem. From what you said, it sounded like you only need a car occasionally. If that’s the case, you could save a lot of money and frustration by using a car sharing service (ZipCar being the most popular one) for the times you do need a car. But certainly having meters that increase turnover, or even residential permit parking that reduces demand, would increase the chances of you finding a parking space on-street near your home.

  • Hillary’s comment, quoted in the article, deserves more consideration. I can’t figure out what the net effect of Shoupian parking would be in New York.

    We are talking about it in downtown Berkeley, and in this case, it clearly would generate more auto trips. Now, many employees drive to work and feed meters all day, and with Shoupian pricing, they would either shift to alternative transportation or pay for a space in a garage, opening the space for shoppers. If an employee shifts to transit, the one employee trip that filled a parking space all day could be replaced by six or eight shoppers trips.

    Despite the increased numbers of trips, Shoupian parking probably makes sense in downtown Berkeley, as the only way for this small urban shopping area to compete with nearby suburban shopping areas with lots of free parking. More short-term parking in downtown Berkeley is probably the only alternative to Berkeley people driving to suburban malls to shop.

    Berkeley is more typical of the US than New York is. I cannot figure out what the impact of Shoupian pricing would be in Manhattan. Are there many employees who drive to work and feed meters in Manhattan?

    Would Shoupian pricing apply to residents as well as to employees and shoppers, making many residents give up their cars (and use ZipCars instead) because of the high price of parking? If so, there would be a big increase in available shopper parking and lots more affluent people driving in from the suburbs to shop.

    I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think we should figure out those answers before supporting Shoupian parking in New York.

    Note that I am generally a supporter of Shoupian parking, and I wrote an opinion piece supporting it in Berkeley, which is at
    http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/article.cfm?issue=12-08-06&storyID=25721

  • Boogiedown

    “New Yorkers wouldn’t dare drive for fear that they’ll lose their space. Once you create this wonderful environment where it’s possible to drive to other neighborhoods, why would I stay home at night? It seems like this city could be unleashing a much worse nightmare than what we have now,” she said.

    Hmmm…let’s see. If munimeters were placed on every block in the city and there were no longer any free parking spaces, so everyone who now stores their car on city streets for free had to stop free-loading, then many would choose to get rid of their car and many of those would instead choose car sharing services, which are already far more economical today even with all the free parking spaces available.

    There would be many fewer cars in the city. Many.

    So I’d have to say I disagree with you, Hilary. The status quo is not superior to Shoup’s ideas.

  • Hilary

    Speaking as your average person, I think we can see from just this small sample how many people would take advantage of Shoup’s reform to use our cars. I have no quibble with charging for all parking in the city (business and residential), and using variable pricing to determine the optimum price. The problem with Shoup’s Law, however, is that he prescribes 15% as the “perfect price” because it insures that there will always be a space to meet demand. He has tunnel vision trained on eliminating cruising, but ignores the impact on driving. He’s using pricing to create driver’s nirvana. To me, the “perfect price” is one that maximizes revenue but maintains parking gridlock.
    CP and its alternatives are juggling several objectives – maximizing revenue to improve transit, reducing congestion, and reducing pollution. I don’t know about Pasadena, but in New York the supply/demand situation is such that convenience may be greater than price as an incentive/deterrent. In any case, the best plan will find a logarithm that optimizes all of them. If not, it will be simply a revenue raiser, as its opponents have been claiming all along.

  • Hilary

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear for those unfamiliar with the Shoup plan. I should have said “Shoup’s perfect price is the one that keeps 15% of spaces open.”

  • I’m a car-sharing member — but I’ve never used it for a trip within the city. For trips in the city that require a car (which for me are fairly rare as well, but might include a 2 a.m. party) a car service makes more sense than car sharing.

  • Boogiedown

    “I think we can see from just this small sample how many people would take advantage of Shoup’s reform to use our cars.”

    Only Jonathon has expressed interest in taking advantage of 15% available parking, and he would be better off with Zipcar. I do not own a car, and I bet many other respondents above don’t either.

    “The problem with Shoup’s Law, however, is…he has tunnel vision trained on eliminating cruising, but ignores the impact on driving. He’s using pricing to create driver’s nirvana.”

    This makes no sense, Hilary. Shoup suggests charging a fee that would elimate cruising for parking, estimated at 20 to 30% of motor vehicles circling your block. Congestion Pricing would eliminate many other drivers and would help prevent “driver’s nirvana”.

    “To me, the “perfect price” is one that maximizes revenue but maintains parking gridlock.”

    Well, that is pretty much what we have now. Why would you want to maintain parking gridlock? Defeats the whole purpose of eliminating the high percentage of parking cruisers.

    “CP and its alternatives are juggling several objectives – maximizing revenue to improve transit, reducing congestion, and reducing pollution. I don’t know about Pasadena, but in New York the supply/demand situation is such that convenience may be greater than price as an incentive/deterrent. In any case, the best plan will find a logarithm that optimizes all of them. If not, it will be simply a revenue raiser, as its opponents have been claiming all along.”

    Again, this is not logical. Maybe you should familiarize yourself further with what Shoup advocates.

  • Jonathan

    Thanks for the endorsement of car-sharing, folks, but I will stick with my own personal Nissan Maxima. My primary use of the motorcar is to get back and forth from Staten Island for military drill weekends; it’s dicey getting to Staten Island by ferry before seven a.m. on the weekend and the car makes it much easier. The service you both mentioned charges around $100 a day for weekends; I suppose it’s a great deal for one- or two-hour shopping trips but it doesn’t seem very reasonable for driving to work (and staying there for eight or more hours), plus there’s a mileage fee, making it less desirable for longer trips. The service’s insurance is not particularly comprehensive, either (another advantage of having your own car, streetsbloggers, is that your auto insurance policy covers motor vehicle crashes even if you are just walking or biking). My auto insurance is $500 every six months, which is a lot cheaper than a monthly rental.

    Hilary, you are definitely on to something with your line of reasoning here. One thing you haven’t covered in this thread is that parking is the largest cost to maintaining a vehicle in NYC and therefore the cost of parking is a proxy for the cost of driving (even if the cost is not in money, but in time spent moving the car for ASP or in hunting for a space).

    The problem that you’ve identified is that today free parking is being used as an enticement to keep one’s car parked and out of the travel lanes; once you get rid of that enticement, then more cars will be driving. The percentage of the NYC vehicle fleet in use will increase, although the total fleet size will decrease.

  • Jonathan

    Boogiedown, you posted while I was responding. Thanks for the unilateral decision about how I would be “better off” renting vs. owning. I bet you’re a real hit at parties.

  • After more thought, I believe that in Manhattan:

    It is essential to apply Shoupian pricing only to metered spaces. If it were also applied to residential spaces, there would be a large increase in the number of auto trips because of the increased parking.

    Boogiedown, I have to disagree that it would be a benefit because there would be many fewer cars. There would be many fewer cars, but there would be many more car trips because of the increase in short-term parking. Every space where a resident’s car now sits all day would accommodate maybe a dozen cars driving into Manhattan for short stays for shopping or whatever. If we want to reduce congestion and GHG emissions, we have to reduce the number of cars driving, not the number of cars sitting in parking spaces.

    Assuming that only metered spaces are affected, the biggest costs and benefits of Shoupian parking in terms of reducing auto use are:

    — The main benefit is reduction of Geoge-Costanza-style cruising, as Shoup says.

    — The main cost is more short term trips, because increased price would encourage people to use metered spaces for shorter term parking. Imagine that parking meters are now used for an average of 45 minutes, and that with Shoupian parking, meters will be used for an average of 20 minutes. Then the same number of meters would accommodate about twice as many trips with Shoupian parking as they do now.

    I don’t think anyone has the figures on how Shoupian parking would affect the length of time that meters are used in Manhattan, so I don’t think anyone can say whether it would increase or decrease total Vehicle Miles Travelled by automobile.

    I am assuming that parking is a key constraint on the number of auto trips into Manhattan. If congestion parking is implemented at the same time as Shoupian parking, introducing another key constraint on auto trips, then things could be different (depending on the price level).

  • Hilary

    Boogiedown, Now we have parking gridlock but no revenue. I want as much revenue as we can get – but not enough to lift the gridlock.

    And spare me the gratuitous insults please.

  • Hilary

    Exactly Charles. Shoup was crowing about “turnover!” That’s how you sell it to businesses! That’s how you sell it to residential neighborhoods! And what does turnover mean? More driving! As if driving-with-a-purpose is better for the environment than driving-without-one (e.g., cruising).

    New York is far from Pasadena. Demand for parking spaces is on a different order of magnitude.

  • JK

    Many of these comments make no sense. Using a curb parking occupancy target of 85%(about one spot a block free) doesnt “create more parking.” The amount of curb parking is fixed. When you raise the price of the parking, the demand for it goes down, the supply stays the same. That means some motorists decide parking is too expensive. That means less driving, not more. There is no possible way that occupancy targets can be construed to increase driving. That’s backwards. Also, it is incredibly unlikely that residential streets, outside of the CBD at least, will be metered. Even in the CBD, a very small number of currently unmetered spots are likely to be metered. So many of you are discussing a scenario which Shoup did not propose and the city is not considering. Lastly, we do know, from experience in a number of California cities and London, that occupancy targets eliminate cruising and thus reduce VMT.

  • Hilary

    JK. It doesn’t create more parking (it creates 15% less, to be exact). But it creates more driving because the spots turn over, thanks to the availability.

    The effect I am predicting will occur even without unleashing outer borough street parkers. Convenient parking (in front of Fairway uptown, say) induces people with garaged cars to dart up to shop for an hour. Or pick up tickets at the box office at Lincoln Center. The only way this will not happen is if the metered-street parking is set at the same minimum rate as the local garages. Not the pro-rated hourly rate they’re talking about ($4/hour) but the price of using a garage at all.

  • mf

    It’s really too bad that this isn’t planned for residential areas outside of the CBD. I live in Downtown Brooklyn, and there’s not enough parking, so people double park, and block the bike lanes. They also double park during the alternate side of the street cleaning dance. They cruise for parking, and otherwise engage in antisocial behavior.

    It also bothers me that my car-owning neighbors get a free space, while as a homeowner, I still have to clean up under the cars, or face a fine.

    I’d much rather have half the parking and wider sidewalks, bike lanes with buffers, and even some more closed streets in the area (like Fulton Mall).

    The parking space in front of a brownstone is worth at least $25,000 if it could be annexed. The city should either receive this revenue, or consider other uses which are not damaging to the environment, and the street life. A good start would be market rate pricing, but I would advocate that parking spaces are not just for the convenience of cars and transportation, but rather space that should be allocated in a manner that improves quality of life in the city.

    Shouldn’t they be priced higher than what is necessary to keep 1 space free per block?Shouldn’t we shoot to have the price high enough that enough people give up their cars that we can use the space for something else?

  • moocow

    It seems that the “high” price of parking as well as the lack of free car storage would encourage many on the fence drivers to give up their cars. I wish the complete ban of cars parked on the street were possible but I and that poster can only dream. I lived below Canal St for 11 years. I suffered with the rampant placard abuse and rude driving by people who didn’t care what their selfish habitual driving did to the neighborhood they were cutting through.

    Is it safe for me to propose, instead of the hundreds of cameras and expense of technology that will be needed to enforce CP, NYC does at least two things instead:
    1. Eliminate free parking- charge for any street parking, and rearrange the way the curb space is used. Provide commercial and resident drop off zones where there is continual double parking. (This requires embarrassing the NYPD into doing their job.)
    2.As DDartley has said from the beginning of this blog, lower traffic speeds. (again, needing to embarrass the NYPD into enforcing such new and “crazy” rules.) Stop drivers from racing to beat red lights, etc. Make drivers slow down, to infuriatingly low speeds, fine those who don’t and maybe that would cut down on needless and ‘unexciting’ trips.

    2a Toll those damned bridges.

    One monetary and one patience straining hurdle to make driving here especially unattractive.

    2b I just want to add here I haven’t missed any of the Access-A-Ride morons, they endanger way more people than they help.

  • Hilary

    Yes (to mf). The “perfect price” for parking, and the “perfect price” for tolling and for CP should be those which, in combination, reduce driving in the city to a level (volume and speed) that we agree is acceptable. The problem is, no one has ever dared say what that target might be! That’s why we’re slipping around all over the place. More than once I’ve heard the city’s CP advocates saying that they chose prices that maximized revenue. But as long as those revenues depend on driving (including turnover), we will never ever reduce it. We will stabilize it and reap great revenue. It’s like depending on cigarette sales to find a cure for cancer.

  • Hilary writes: “Convenient parking … induces people with garaged cars to dart up to shop for an hour. Or pick up tickets at the box office at Lincoln Center. The only way this will not happen is if the metered-street parking is set at the same minimum rate as the local garages.”

    Hilary, I think it is even worse than you say. Regardless of parking price, it is much more convenient to park in front and pick up tickets than it is to park in a nearby garage. It only takes a couple of minutes to pick up tickets, so price will not be a factor in the decision to drive on this trip, only convenience will. In front of Carnegie Hall, there could be turnover every three minutes with Shoupian parking, instead of turnover every half hour to hour with meters. The result: at least ten times as many trips generated by those spaces in front of Carnegie Hall.

    I wish we could follow the suggestions of mf and price parking high enough to reduce driving. I could back that unequivocally.

    However, the whole point of Shoupian pricing is that it makes existing parking go further to support more short-term trips. It is not as high as you want, mf, and would not do what you want.

  • Boogiedown

    Hilary: how have I insulted you (gratuitously)? Is no one allowed to disagree with you?

    Jonathon: almost all of us make decisions which are not financially viable, and it ain’t nobody’s business if we do! All I am saying is that, financially, you are probably better off not owning a car and taking cabs/renting cars whenever you like. No offense!

  • mf

    “no one has ever dared say what that target might be! ” From hilary above.

    Here’s a target: I want streets that my 8 year old can bike safely without being doored or hit by a truck; where my 2 year old might slip away from my hand and not be in danger of immediate death; where local cafes have room for outdoor tables; where parents with strollers can walk two abreast and not block the sidewalks.

  • Hilary

    Boogie, Please do disagree. This blog is a great opportunity to test assumptions. Comments like “Maybe you should familiarize yourself further with what Shoup advocates” are not helpful in this regard. How do you know what I know?

  • Hilary

    mf – ok, now we need to quantify that (it’s possible) and get our elected officials work to implement it.
    The Clean Air Act was a great leap forward because it set measurable air quality targets. We need similarly measurable targets like a) the amount of surface area that should be given over to automobiles, b) the speed that traffic should flow through local streets and parks, c) the noise levels that we are willing to tolerate next to roadways, etc etc
    I shouldn’t have said “no one. ” I meant no administration or agency that I know of.

  • JK

    Why bother with fevered hypotheticals when we can look at the real world effect of occupancy targets. Yes, in the real world, occupancy targets have been found to reduce traffic. Both in high density London boroughs and throughout the LA area, raising prices reduced traffic. We can expect occupancy targets to eliminate cruising. That means 15% to 40% of driving gone. You propose that this cruising traffic would immediately be filled with new short-term trips. But Carnegie Hall is representative of just about nothing but Carnegie Hall. It’s a regional destination, and buying tickets is an unusual activity. Even with high meter rates, in 99% of cases short-term parking doesnt turn-over in three minutes. The arguements you make are identical to those of congestion pricing opponents. Essentially you suggest that pricing merely substitutes one type of motorist for another. I would again point back to the real world, where the experience has been that occupancy targets and congestion pricing reduce driving.

  • J:Lai

    Here’s my take on the economics of a shoup-style policy:

    Increasing the cost of private car use (by increasing the cost on one component, parking) will decrease the demand.
    However, by making parking easier to find, the “hidden” cost in time and effort to find a space will decrease.
    There is some price level at which the decrease in the “hidden” cost will offset the explicit cost of parking, and therefore have neutral or possibly even positive impact on demand for private cars.

    However, it is generally conceded that “cruising” can only be reduced as the price of on-street parking increases, so this externality will be reduced (a good thing for everyone.)

    If the goal is to reduce cruising, then probably any increase in the cost of on-street parking is positive.

    If the goal is to reduce overall demand for private car use, then the increase in parking cost has to be large enough that the marginal user will see the explicit cost as higher than the implied savings gained from easier access to on-street parking.

    Users of private garages or other parking facilities will not be affected.

  • JK

    You guys are missing the whole point of occupancy targets. It doesn’t matter what demand is, at some price, 15% of spots will be free. That’s regardless of how many people decide to start driving their garaged or never driven cars. You are essentially making the point that aggregate demand for curbside parking is very high in Manhattan. But you overstate how inelastic that demand is. Shoup has a great picture of Grosvenor Square in London before and after parking pricing in 1965. Before, it is jammed with double parked Rolls Royce. After, they are gone — though meter rates there weren’t that high. Anyway, the only proposal the city has on the table is to use occupancy targets on already metered streets. That’s not going to create a revolution in motoring affairs.

  • Hilary

    Well, we do disagree about assumptions about demand and elasticity, but we agree on the preferred outcome. Since I am all for metering parking, I will gladly help usher it in like a Trojan horse on the promise that it will make driving and parking easier. Shoup was right that this is how to market it. Once installed, we can crank them up to the real “perfect price.”

  • vnm

    I have one unanswered question for all those who argue that higher turnover means more driving.

    All these new drivers, where will they be driving to once they’re done parking? If curbside parking is now more expensive, they won’t be able to find a cheap destination.

    There are a number of costs associated with operating a motor vehicle, of which parking is a big one. The more you raise those costs, the more you discourage the use and ownership of cars.

    I grew up in Metro-North land, but we frequently drove 50 miles into the city because we studied the math. With free parking, the train was more expensive on a per-trip basis. For the sake of our nation and our planet, that disparity needs to be reversed. Best to do it with a combination of Shoupian parking policy and Bloombergian congestion pricing.

  • JK writes: “We can expect occupancy targets to eliminate cruising. That means 15% to 40% of driving gone. You propose that this cruising traffic would immediately be filled with new short-term trips. But Carnegie Hall is representative of just about nothing but Carnegie Hall.”

    JK, I was using Carnegie Hall as an extreme example. In other places, there clearly not be as much turnover as at Carnegie Hall, but there will be more turnover than there currently is; the increased turnover is a major point that Shoup himself makes.

    So lets say that Shoupian pricing eliminates cruising, reducing driving by 30% (midrange of your estimates). At the same time, let’s say Shoupian pricing cuts the average time that a space is occupied to one-third of what it was with existing pricing. In this imaginary example, increased VMT because of increased turnover will outweigh decreased VMT because of decreased cruising, and overall VMT will increase.

    My point is that we have rough figures about decreased cruising, but we don’t have figures about increased turnover, so we don’t know which will have a greater effect, and we don’t know the net effect of Shoupian pricing on VMT.

    I don’t think LA is a good comparison, because LA was famously built around the automobile and it has more parking than Manhattan. In Manhattan, Shoupian pricing will raise the price of parking higher than in LA, and so it will cause higher turnover than in LA.

    I have not seen information on higher pricing for parking in dense London boroughs, which you mention, JK. That sounds like a better comparison than LA, and if you could give more info about that, you might convince me. But remember that we are talking about Shoupian parking pricing, not about London’s congestion pricing. (I am all for congestion pricing.)

    vmn writes:
    “All these new drivers, where will they be driving to once they’re done parking? If curbside parking is now more expensive, they won’t be able to find a cheap destination”

    vmn, we are talking about people who drive into Manhattan from somewhere where they have a guaranteed parking space. This could be someone who lives in an upper-east-side apartment building with a garage, someone who lives in Westchester or Queens and has a driveway next to his house, etc. If it is easy to find a parking space right in front of Zabars, then those people will drive to Zabars, park in front for four minutes while they pick up lox and bagels, and then drive back home to eat the lox and bagels. (Zabars, like Carnegie Hall, is an extreme example meant to make a point about increased turnover that applies more generally.)

    By definition, Shoupian pricing is the price level where 85% of all spaces are full. So, if there are not enough people to fill 85% of the spaces, then the price will be lowered until 85% of the spaces are filled.

    The only question is what this target level of 85% does to turnover. In Manhattan, there is such a limited supply of parking and such great demand for parking, that we can expect a very high price for parking and a very high turnover – which means that we can expect lots more trips.

  • Hilary

    And if you add residential parking permits to the equation, thereby easing the problem of finding a place again back in Brooklyn, you’re adding a whole lot more drivers-to-Zabars.

    Charles, I think you are really underestimating the occupancy rate at 1/3. On an unmetered street in midtown or the upper west side now, the turnover is little more than 1-2 per WEEK, for alternate side parking. Also, the calculation for turnover with 15% vacancy doesn’t mean that one space is turning over; that 15% lubricates ALL spaces to turn. The increase in VMT would be exponential, not linear. Shoup may be a fine urban planner and sociologist, but he’s not a mathematician.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Shoup has a great picture of Grosvenor Square in London before and after parking pricing in 1965. Before, it is jammed with double parked Rolls Royce. After, they are gone — though meter rates there weren’t that high.

    I found it, John. It’s slide #25 on this presentation:

    http://www.trb.org/Conferences/RoadPricing/Presentations/Shoup.ppt

  • I never, ever, ever thought I’d see the day where parking policy would intersect with Salt-n-Pepa.

  • JK

    How ironic then that Shoup is much more a mathematician than a planner. His PHD is in economics. His scholarly work is grounded in fine grained economic analysis — lots and lots of formulas and graphing. Even better, Shoup’s analytical work is grounded in real world data. No doubt, parking is complex, but the group behavior of parkers is fairly easily modeled, and Shoup has done it.

  • Hilary

    JF – I think I’ve located our point of departure. Your first comment in this thread was this:

    “Using a curb parking occupancy target of 85%(about one spot a block free) doesnt “create more parking.” The amount of curb parking is fixed.”

    I would say the occupancy target of 85% DOES create more parking because I am defining “parking” as “putting your car into a parking spot.” The Shoupian model considers parking to be the act of storing the car. So under Shoup, the parking is fixed. Under my definition, it increases according to the rate of turnover.

    Our problem is not knowing whether we’re setting the meters to maximize turnover and revenue, or minimize VMT.

  • Hillary wrote: “Charles, I think you are really underestimating the occupancy rate at 1/3. On an unmetered street in midtown or the upper west side now, the turnover is little more than 1-2 per WEEK, for alternate side parking. Also, the calculation for turnover with 15% vacancy doesn’t mean that one space is turning over; that 15% lubricates ALL spaces to turn.”

    Hilary: as I said above, I am assuming that the pricing applies only to metered spaces. I think it would be a disaster if it also applied to spaces that currently aren’t metered, for just the reason you say: they turn over maybe once or twice a week now, and with Shoupian pricing, they would turn over many times each day.

    So, when I said one-third, I was assuming that maybe the average meter is occupied for 45 minutes now and would be occupied for 15 minutes with Shoupian parking.

    One-third is just a figure I pulled out of the air to show that increased turnover could conceivably outweigh decreased cruising. How much turnover would increase is really an empirical question that, as far as I know, Shoup has not modelled.

    Angus: the question is what pricing does in terms of trip generation. Eliminating double parking would reduce trip generation, but I haven’t mentioned it because I think it is minor compared with increased turnover, even though it looks very impressive in a photograph. Again, this is an empirical question, and we don’t know the answers about how much turnover would increase and double parking would decrease.

    J:Lai, you are exactly right when you say:
    “If the goal is to reduce overall demand for private car use, then the increase in parking cost has to be large enough that the marginal user will see the explicit cost as higher than the implied savings gained from easier access to on-street parking.”

    Unfortunately, this is not what Shoupian pricing does. Shoup sets the price to get a vacancy rate of 15%, regardless of how this price affects overall automobile use.

    Incidentally, I think there would be a huge increase in driving to pick up take-out food with Shoupian pricing in Manhattan. My sister lives in Bronxville, in an apartment building with parking, and she thinks nothing of driving four blocks to pick up sandwiches at the deli. People don’t do that in Manhattan because it takes too long to find parking near the deli. But if there were Shoupian pricing and several spaces open on the same block as the deli, people in Manhattan with parking garages in their buildings would sometimes drive the four blocks to the deli instead of walking. And once you are driving, why go only four blocks to the neighborhood deli? It is just as easy to drive a mile or two to some other take-out restaurant.

  • Nightmare

    Is there a real world example where only Shoupian pricing was used? That is, one where nothing else was used to influence VMT? Enacting it without simultaneously levying a price on driving (CP or an alternative) might be a transportation disaster equivalent to Atlantic Yards or Trump Towers. Now I really can’t sleep.

  • JF

    JF – I think I’ve located our point of departure.

    That wasn’t me, it was JK. But since you mentioned me, I’ll comment.

    Our problem is not knowing whether we’re setting the meters to maximize turnover and revenue, or minimize VMT.

    I think you’ve distilled your point to its essence here. This is a very important insight, and you’ve shown several hypothetical situations where maximizing turnover can increase VMT.

    I would say in addition to minimizing VMT, we need to think about a couple of other criteria:

    1. Minimize car ownership. This is not necessarily the same as minimizing VMT, but it’s important. Does just owning a car change people’s political behavior, making it more difficult to fund transit and implement pedestrian safety features? If, by making it more difficult to store a car on the street, we got all the “weekend escapees” to switch to Metro-North and Zipcar, and all the social drivers to switch to cabs, would that increase support for transit? Maybe it’ll turn out not relevant, but it’s worth looking at.

    2. JK writes “The amount of curb parking is fixed.” In practice, maybe, but if the political will is there the DOT can always reduce it, such as for the chicanery proposed for West 81st street in this video. One obstacle to many of these proposals is complaints about parking being taken away. Well, what if we take out parking spots but raise the rates so that drivers will still be able to find spots when they need them?

    Finally, some of you probably remember that there’s another Shoop Shoop Song. I chose the Aretha Franklin version because I couldn’t find a video of Betty Everett. In any case, I just love the line “Oh no, that’s not the way, and you’re not listening to a word I say!” It perfectly captures the way I feel talking to some people about parking.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    “If you told these permit holders we’ll give you $500 a month to surrender your permit I bet a lot of them would give up that permit,” he [Shoup] said.

    Let’s multiply that $500 as Shoup suggested times 150,000 parking permit holders in NYC. That’s $7.5-million per month, or $90-million a year. Hmmm… and this guy Shoup was formerly an economist?

    “…city parking permits — a long abused system that lacks accountability. He says New York City employees [with parking permits] are three times more likely to drive to work.”

    In Chinatown, “No Permit Parking” signs, printed on paper, have reduced illegal permit abuse by at least 75% on a daily basis; sometimes illegal permit abuse is reduced even more – 85-90%. (Of course, this is maintained with some towing on occasion). I know this for a fact because I personally count the cars parked illegally on my block everyday when I walk my dog. No Permit Parking signs have no doubt altered the quality of life in Chinatown for the better – and, the City is making money on all the metered parking spots in Chinatown that were formerly taken all day by government sector commuters.

    Cheap tin rider tags, posted signs that say “No Permit Parking” are a one-time expense that would reap millions ($46-million/year) in parking meter revenue alone for NYC; and, No Permit Parking signs would reduce the number of cars in NYC by many, and I mean many, thousands of cars every working day.

    It seems that posting No Permit Parking signs would be a better one-time investment, rather than forking over $500 every month to bribe permit abusers who have chronically broken the law. Does Shoup really think his idea is good for NYC?

  • anonymous

    I think people are missing a key piece of context around Shoup’s analysis, and the implementation of his ideas. Specifically, the metered parking he speaks of is in a business district, where turnover is a good thing, as are free spaces. In LA, residential parking almost always comes with the residence, or at least is free on the street. Nobody pays for residential parking there. Also, in Pasadena, the metered street parking is complemented by a huge amount of FREE garage parking.

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