Low parking costs may encourage automobile use

Mar 24, 2014
A parking payment kiosk in Philadelphia is situated near bicycle racks, a bus stop and a subway station entrance. Researchers led by Amy Auchincloss, Ph.D., of Drexel University report, in one of the first baseline studies of comprehensive public parking costs, that parking costs in 107 US cities are overall very low. Higher parking costs were positively correlated with public transit passenger miles, even after adjusting for economic features of each city. The authors recommend considering parking costs as part of a comprehensive transportation management framework. Credit: Drexel University

The low cost of parking in many American cities may contribute to urban development that relies on automobile use and undercuts planners' efforts to increase public transport, according to a new baseline study of comprehensive public parking costs led by the Drexel University School of Public Health. The article, "Public parking fees and fines: a survey of US cities," is now published online ahead of print in the journal Public Works Management and Policy. It reports on downtown public parking costs after surveying public parking agencies in 107 U.S. cities.

"The role of policies in regulating the supply and cost of in inducing use has been understudied," said lead author Amy Auchincloss, PhD. "Indeed, the lack of systematic large scale data on parking costs has prevented researchers from even looking at this question."

Along with Auchincloss, an assistant professor in the Drexel University School of Public Health, the study was co-authored by Alexa Namba, MPH, and Andrew Ricchezza, MS (who performed the research as master's students at Drexel's School of Public Health), Rachel Weinberger, PhD, who currently works at NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates, and Semra Aytur, PhD from the University of New Hampshire.

During the past 25 years, the number of miles Americans drive has grown three times faster than the U.S. population. The predominant form of development, low-density sprawl, has encouraged automobile use and has worsened the challenges of providing convenient and low-cost public transportation. In the U.S., relatively low user fees in the form of road pricing, tolls and gas prices have been cited as important reasons for increased automobile travel.

"The zoning regulations and price distortions that induce high automobile use have serious consequences for urban environments," said Weinberger. "They degrade air quality, imperil safety and use a lot of land that could be used for parks, schools, stores and other things. By understanding the role of parking and how parking rules are enforced, policymakers are more likely to improve everyone's mobility."

The study data represent conditions in 2009. On average across the U.S., on-street meters in central business districts allowed for 2-hour parking and charged $1 per hour. Off-street "commuter" lots charged an average of $11 per day but dropped to less than half of that in cities such as Buffalo, N.Y. Median fees for parking violations were about $25 for infractions like expired meters and exceeding on-street meter time limits. Average fines for handicapped parking violations were $200 and exceeded $400 in 10 cities. Parking in front of a fire hydrant—which could result in significant risks to —had an average fine of only $50 and was half of that in cities such as Pittsburgh, Pa.

After collecting data from each of the cities, the authors then looked at whether city-level higher parking costs were positively correlated with public transit passenger miles. In larger cities, higher parking costs were associated with a 2.3-fold increase in public transit miles, after adjusting for economic features of each city.

This study provides baseline data for comparison in future parking studies. In conclusion, the authors recommend that cities, employers and housing developers consider parking regulations within a comprehensive transportation management framework that aims to promote non-automobile travel. This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Explore further: Website shines light on renewable energy resources

More information: pwm.sagepub.com/content/early/… 24X13514380.abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

IBM looks to take pain out of parking

Sep 28, 2011

US technology stalwart IBM and Internet startup Streetline on Wednesday will begin courting cities with a system designed to take the pain out of parking.

It's off to work we go

Feb 19, 2013

In a large city like Montreal, public transit provides us with options for getting to work or school and back home again. In deciding to choose traffic jams over metro delays, or to pay for parking rather than buy a monthly ...

Recommended for you

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

Cook farm waste into energy

Dec 17, 2014

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

Developing a reliable wind 'super grid' for Europe

Dec 17, 2014

EU researchers are involved in the development of a pan-European 'super grid' capable of dispersing wind power across Member States. This will bring more renewable energy into homes and businesses, help reduce ...

Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

Dec 16, 2014

Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory in Washington state where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.