Does Expensive Parking Really Discourage City Driving?
They’ve tried various strategies for discouraging car use in cities around the world, including expanding railways and building bike lanes.
How do you define expensive. Most research seems to evolve around cost, but if are talking about cost, you are typically only talking in terms of dollars. Then the cost becomes relative to the reward. If you are going somewhere for a quick meeting, then there is a value. If you are going to an expensive concert there is an amount that you will say, I’m paying $150 for a concert ticket, so $20 for 3 hours is good value. If you have a car full of kids, $20 all day might stop you going anywhere where you have to pay for parking and potential entertainment or shopping precincts might miss out altogether because the cost of public transport for that car full might also be prohibitive.
In Auckland we had rain yesterday for the first time in a few weeks and we had significantly more cars on the roads. The same applied this morning in case it was the same as today. People are concerned about if the park and rides are full they have to walk to a bu stop and get wet. They still have to pay for the bus on top of that and they often discount the cost of the petrol and only focus on the cost of the park, which is probably similar to the cost of the bus.
Ultimately it comes down to having a quality perceived value proposition for public transport. You can see in the cities which have good quality, safe, convenient to access, economic and highly frequent public transport, that people do use it. In many of the world’s large cities, close to and in some cases more than 50% of today’s populations don’t even own cars and never will.
I didn’t get my first car and subsequent cars because I wanted a car, but because the public transport service was so bad. Then I found I really enjoyed driving. I’ve also been fortunate in that for most of my working life I had a company car. This wasn’t a perquisite, it was because I drove to a lot of meetings and again, urban transport didn’t meet my time objectives. I would have spent half my day walking to or waiting for public transport. If I had lived and worked in Amsterdam, London or New York, I probably wouldn’t have needed a car, because they have great public transport.
Cost is not so much about dollars, it’s about offering a service that meets the needs of its users. There have been thousands of studies saying that people will pay a premium for convenience, for timeliness, for safety. If we’re going to talk parking, why don’t we start with combining sufficient parking with public transport. A better start would be at least letting people know that there are park and ride parks available before they get in their car to drive to the public transport. If I had a dollar for each story of someone who went to the park and ride and the park was full and another 50 cents for each person that never went back and 25 cents for each person that told me that story, I could build my own car park!
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