Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Parking Lot Congestion Pricing?

I was reading up on the Seattle congestion pricing debate over at Seattle Transit Blog and Orphan Road and was thinking about ways to address the equity issue of congestion pricing. I'm wondering what kind of tax isn't regressive. Is it the land tax? Perhaps.

But what about a rush hour parking tax?

Parking garages have meters that do timestamping, so why not charge a fee for parking between 8:00 and 9:30 and leaving between 4:30 and 6:00. When you use that funding for expanding transit, you can then expand to road based congestion pricing after expanding transit. That way if you don't have any other options, you can still get in and park if its early or late making people vary their timing surely making it more equitable. I'm sure there are drawbacks because this just popped into my head and I didn't think it through completely but I'd like to hear people's take on it. It could be too limited to workers downtown for instance. Or people could just write it off on their taxes unless that benefit was taken away.


grvsmth said...

The parking lots in NYC pretty much already have congestion pricing, but most of that is pocketed by the garage owners. But the latest plan from the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission does include something vague about charging market rates for parking.

The "regressive tax" accusation lobbed at congestion pricing may hold water in some other city, but it's completely bogus in New York, where the bottom 90% of Manhattan-bound commuters take the train. How much do we care if it hits the 90-95 income percentiles harder than the 95-99 percentiles?

You can look at a piece I wrote last year in response to this kind of bogus populism.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I think you're right about NYC. However Seattle doesn't have the same transit options as New York. They are just building their first light rail line.

kenf said...

I came up with something like this about a year ago for the Washington, DC METRO, which uses smartcards for many of it's parking lots.

The lot near my local station (Takoma Park) is metered, and supposed to be only for non commuter parking. One part is signed for 8:30 to 3:00 and after 7pm, and the other for after 10:00 am.

If the meters were replaced with a smartcard activated gate, METRO could charge a large premium for anyone who parks in the lot through the restricted times.

This would permit more parking in non peak hours for short term parkers. And if my supposition is correct, they could reduce the number of spaces.

Mark said...

I like the general idea. How about multiple entries and exits? So many people make the excuse they "need" their car to run errands during the day or go on sales calls. Most just like the idea of having their car close by "just in case" and never actually use their car at all.

I think the car that sits all day from 8:30AM to 4:30PM should pay a premium over one that comes and goes multiple times.

Not sure how you make that fair and equitable. Just thinking out loud.

M1EK said...

There is no tax or fee which hits suburban road users which won't be framed as being regressive, no matter if, as grvsmth indicates, the lower 90% don't pay it.

People need to be very very aggressive about making the case here. Too many people stay quiet and let the troglodytes like Sal Costello and McBlogger (in Austin) pretend to be fighting for the poor when the primary beneficiaries of business-as-usual aren't the poor, but the middle-and-upper-class suburbanites.