Why Cities Should Implement Paid Parking
Parking, to many, is seen as a basic public good that should be convenient, available 24/7 and most importantly free. In reality, each on-street parking space is estimated to cost around $1,750 to build and $400 to maintain annually. While most citizens have grown accustomed to paid parking, there are many towns and cities across America that still have free parking programs. As cities continue to develop, populations increase and parking regulations evolve, the benefits of a paid parking system over a free parking system become more apparent.
Decrease loss of revenue
As the legality of physical chalking is questioned, enforcement jobs continue to be cut. While many cities are starting to invest in digital chalking devices, others simply don’t have the resources or time to manage manual efforts. In cities with free parking and limited resources, residents and visitors can get away with parking their car and allowing it to sit for days. With fewer officers and restrictions to chalking methods, there is no penalty for these actions, and thus cities lose revenue from citations written.
While License Plate Recognition (LPR) would be a simple way to tackle this issue, the solution is often too costly for smaller towns, so many are turning to paid parking. While implementing a brand new parking program can seem daunting, paid parking is a simple change that often pays for itself, helps create new enforcement jobs and provides a better experience for residents and visitors.
When a city has free parking, business owners, employees and residents who live or work nearby tend to park in on-street spots near their stores, offices and homes utilizing parking options that should, in theory, be saved for patrons and visitors. Cities should be encouraging people to spread out. Paid parking, at the right price, encourages business turnover with a consistent ebb and flow of residents and visitors alike. As for business owners, employees and residents (or people who don’t mind an inconvenience), there are typically plenty of places to park for free, they just might not be as convenient as paid parking spaces.
When building a paid parking program remember this: If hourly prices are too high, it might discourage people from making a trip to that area of town; however, if the prices are too low, business owners, employees and residents might still find convenience in parking close to their establishments.
Access to more information
As cities continue to grow, access to data becomes more and more important to help cities make informed decisions about how to improve the flow of cars, people and other modes of transportation. Parking data is a valuable asset, and with free parking, cities have very little, if any parking data. If a city requires paid parking, it immediately has access to license plate numbers, scofflaw violations, etc. which will help enforce parking more efficiently, understand parking and congestion trends and build a more livable city.