Peak Rate Parking Proposal Sails Through Preliminary Meeting

meter.jpgIan Dutton, vice-chair of Manhattan CB2’s transportation committee, tells Streetsblog the idea of piloting a variable-rate parking program in Greenwich Village met with approval at last week’s DOT-sponsored strategy session. The program, which DOT is calling "Peak Rate Parking," would increase meter prices during peak hours, boosting turnover and reducing traffic caused by cars cruising for spots.

"All attendees agree that
the pilot is worth going ahead with," Dutton said in an email. "We worked through the area that
we’re going to recommend for the pilot and discussed issues like the
meters’ effective hours and time limits."

DOT had distributed flyers throughout the
neighborhood explaining that the pilot program was contingent on a positive verdict at the meeting. Few people attended despite the outreach, which Dutton interpreted as a sign that opposition to the idea is not strong. "My feeling is that this indicates that residents are not
particularly concerned about ‘protecting’ unreasonably low meter rates
and that businesses don’t fear changes to the way things are done," he
said.

A resolution on the peak parking proposal will be finalized at a CB2 transportation committee meeting on July 8, and will go to the full board on July 24 for a final vote. If implemented, the
pilot program is expected to begin in September.

Photo: misplacedparadox/Flickr

  • Max Rockatansky

    Amazing – never thought it would happen – and I’m glad to be proven wrong!

  • I don’t see how this is going to achieve goals. It seems counter intuitive. When I circle, it’s because (a) the time limit ran out, and/or (b) I’m looking for something cheaper/not metered. Is the theory that people won’t come at all by car if the parking is going to be expensive? Or if they do will opt for a garage? Someone please explain.

  • dave snyder

    The theory is not so much that variable pricing causes you to quit circling for parking, but that when the peak rate is high enough you’ll go directly to a garage instead of cruise for street parking. Street parking, being more convenient and more of a burden to everyone else, should always be pricier than garage parking.

  • @dave snyder: Thanks! That makes sense. It’s good that NY is prototyping this, in a way, to test that theory.

  • Dave, Christopher,
    I don’t think this is an attempt to push drivers into parking garages. (On a practical note, just think about how many quarters you’d have to feed into a meter to match an hour of commercial off-street parking.) Rather, it’s an attempt to implement Donald Shoup’s ideas on parking: http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/12/21/donald-shoup-plays-with-parking-fees-and-matchbox-cars/

    In a nutshell, Shoup says that drivers who are cruising for parking are major contributors to congestion, and if you raise meter rates just enough to free up one parking space per block on average, then the need to cruise for parking disappears. There are a number of other great ideas in there, but to me the most amazing part is that the rate it takes to free up one spot per block is ridiculously low, around $2.75 per hour at peak hours if I recall correctly.

  • “and if you raise meter rates just enough to free up one parking space per block on average, then the need to cruise for parking disappears.”

    … among those looking for short term parking. As long as there are any potentially available free or cheap spots out there, long term parkers will drive around trying to find them. Still, the pilot could measurably reduce overall traffic. And just by making a space available on every block it will be considered a success by most local motorists, possibly allowing a Manhattan-wide implementation that would kill all cruising for parking and significantly reduce traffic.

  • CB2 rocks!

  • ST

    Does anyone know if DOT is planning to keep/invest the increased meter revenue in CB2? That was a big part of Shoup’s plan–to take the money and invest in streetscape improvments in the neighborhood.

  • JK

    All parking revenue goes into the general fund.
    The goal of the variable pricing is to reduce the demand for curb spaces. that means a bunch of things for would be parkers. With higher prices they might:
    1. Not travel to the area with high meters.
    2. Park for a shorter period and go home.
    3. Park in a garage.
    4. Take transit, bike/walk
    5. Car pool.

    In the Lower Manhattan neighborhood its being tried in, peak hour metering probably means retail employees and building service staff won’t be as likely to feed the meters all day. In theory there is a one hour limit almost all meters, but it is ignored. (See TA’s To the Moon study about parking on Columbus Ave.) So, the issue breaks down to meters being more enforced than time-limits.

  • Hilary

    Metered parking is good for drivers looking for convenient short-term parking. Thus these drivers can be expected to increase. Metered parking is bad for anyone who uses street for longterm parking — not just the cost, but the need to feed the meter makes it impossible – and therefore these drivers can be expected to decrease. The question, of course, is which will have the greater effect? My guess is that it will be an overall wash in terms of traffic volume, although with some replacement of commuting traffic by shopping/recreational traffic (better for the economy and eases congestion). It will also reduce the number of car owners in those few neighborhoods where it is introduced — those who depend on longterm street parking. The only ones who will be left are those who commute to jobs outside the city and have to move their cars everyday.
    In any case, the revenue is welcome and just.

  • Hilary

    One more prediction: in lower Manhattan, more meters are likely to free up more space for placardiers – especially as the heat on them for parking in illegal spaces is turned up. Who thinks they will they be ticketed for not paying?

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