Parking, Once Again
By Arnold Kling
To prevent shortages, some cities have begun to adjust their meter rates (using trial and error) to produce about an 85 percent occupancy rate for curb parking. The prices vary by location and the time of day.
The case for peak-load pricing of parking spaces is unassailable. That is, when there is plenty of parking available, the price should be zero, or close to it. When parking spaces are mostly utilized, the price should be high enough to ensure that at least some spaces are available. Peak-load pricing helps people make the right decision on one of the relevant margins, namely, when to use a parking place and when to leave it for someone else.
But if you read chapter one of Shoup’s book, it seems that what ticks him off is the fact that people use cars. Hence, the relevant margin is the mode of transportation. But peak-load pricing, by ensuring drivers that parking spaces will be available, might increase the use of cars. When I have to get to a meeting in the area, I am more worried that parking lots will be full than that they will be expensive. That is one reason I usually take the subway.
Shoup strikes me as one of those people who would like to see American locales looking more like Berlin. As I wrote here, it is not clear that taking away public parking will generate that outcome.