New Study Shows City Can Reduce Congestion Through Parking Policy

parallel.jpgA study released today by Transportation Alternatives puts the congestion and waste caused by cheap metered parking in stark terms. The report, "Driven to Excess" [PDF], quantifies just how far Upper West Side drivers go in search of open spots: 366,000 miles a year, or about the distance from Earth to the moon.

The Post picked up the story this morning, making the connection between parking rates and traffic congestion:

"There are literally tens of millions of unnecessary miles driven
in New York City every year because we’ve made such a mess of metered
parking," said Paul Steeley [sic] White, executive director of Transportation

The major reason, of course, is that street parking in the area is
comparatively a bargain – $1.50 an hour compared to $10 to $15 in
private garages.

The organization recommended that the city impose graduated parking
rates as it has done in Midtown commercial districts, where truckers
pay $2 for the first hour, $5 for the second and $9 for the third.

With Albany showing little inclination to help New York City address its congestion problem, the study bolsters the argument that parking policy, which rests in the city’s hands, is the most effective way forward to rein in traffic.

"We hope it gives a shot in the arm to the DOT," said T.A.’s Wiley Norvell. "Given what we have to work with, parking is really the primary tool at their disposal to take on congestion. This says pretty clearly that we can manage parking better."

According to Norvell, the study results are consistent with what T.A. has heard from local businesses about — to borrow a phase — the high cost of cheap parking. T.A. plans to rally support for parking reform from business improvement districts, he added.

Photo: Felix Bryant/New York Post

  • Shemp

    I guess we can see here how sexy, populist and easily grasped the idea of parking reform is…

  • JK

    Don’t worry. It’s the sound of Streetsblog nation nodding in agreement. This is a good report and nice coverage.

  • “…the study bolsters the argument that parking policy, which rests in the city’s hands, is the most effective way forward to rein in traffic.”

    Maybe you should have tried this approach instead of wasting taxpayer money touting your failed congestion pricing plan, Mayor Bloomberg.

  • Parking reform is the most effective option remaining to this administration, but there are enough unscrupulous government employees out there (who create free parking by buddy system) to congest our streets on their own. Massively and physically eliminating street parking is the only way to curtail that group (or automated enforcement, as with congestion pricing). Scant street parking, combined with naturally expensive off-street parking (please eliminate tax breaks), could reduce traffic to levels desirable to those not in cars, but the money that congestion pricing would collect for the public instead goes to parking garage owners.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Unfortunately, parking pricing would be a replay of the congestion pricing debate, full of false populism.

    If you allocate a scarce resource by queue, rather than by price, there are always insiders who get to be queue jumpers, and they tend to be the people that matter. Ie. the placard holders, and those who find a way to privitize public space (put in a curb cut and you, and no one else, is allowed to park on the street in front of your house).

    The price of allocating space for motor vehicles by queue? In addition to the wasted time, which some people seem to have an abundance of somehow, there is all the gas burned sitting in traffic and driving around, and the resulting contaminants in the air.

  • christine

    According to the EPA it would take planting 1,630 trees to offset this carbon foot print .

    There shodul be a new metere in cars, everytime the carbon consumeed is equivalent to a tree, there is a GIANT WHACK sound inside the car with vibrations etc.. as if a tree had fallen on their cars..

    The Green gods are angry !

  • JF

    That’s being rolled out here in Queens:

  • The parking garage tax and the curbside meter rates should be managed in exactly the same way as the municipal tax on cigarettes. Private autos may have a more diffuse and less easily measured impact on public health than cigarettes, but they are clearly in the same class of top-tier hazards the city government should be managing agressively. If we can ban trans-fats, we can heavily tax private autos.


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