Thursday, November 20, 2008

The CAG and meters

The TAB reports that the Citizens Advisory Group has issued some preliminary recommendations for revenue enhancement for the city. Good to see increased parking fees on the list. This is somewhat analogous to higher tolls. As a general principle, it's good for drivers to bear the costs of driving, and meter fees are a good and appropriate method to do so, just as it is good and appropriate to charge tolls on some roads.

But, as with tolls, there is a good way and a bad way to implement a meter fee hike. You can impose the hikes in a way that simply raises money, or you can impose the hikes in a way that accomplishes some other valuable objectives.

The bad way to rais parking fees would be to simply do an across-the-board hike. The right way would be to implement demand-based pricing.

As discussed in more detail here, demand-based meter fees are designed to encourage high turn-over of the most desirable parking spaces. The city needs to discriminate between prime spaces and not-so-prime spaces. In Newton Centre, for example, the prime spots would be those along Langley Road. The less prime spaces would be those in the municipal lots. Similarly in Newtonville, the prime spaces would be those along Walnut Street and the less prime would be those in the municipal lots. (All villages have their own prime and less prime, I won't give examples for each.)

Through a little trial-and-error, the city should set rates on Langley and Walnut high enough to achieve 85% occupancy — about one free space per block. Such occupancy is good for business. There is regular turnover of spaces, meaning more potential customers able to get spaces. And, the prime spaces go to the people who place a higher value on them, people who are more likely to shop and spend.

Those for whom the prime-space rates are too high can use the less prime spaces. They are given the reasonable choice between walking a bit farther or paying more.

Back to the CAG. Good for them for thinking about higher meter rates. Let's hope that, if the recommendation is taken, that the rates will be applied for the maximum benefit.


Anonymous said...

How about a 'season pass' parking sticker like the seniors have for say $100./year? and how about readjusting the parking spaces without fixed lines so more smaller vehicles can get in curbside? How many bicycles, motorcycles, and sidecars could fit into a parking spot(with or without sticker program)?
Harry Sanders, Registrar's representative on motorcycle safety

susannah said...

How about NO free parking? Parking on the public way is somehow seen as a right--like we taxpayers pave it for motorists from all over to use. What if, instead, you paid either for a pass (for commuter parking), and that revenue went into a fund to pay for street improvements near where you park? What if all spaces near commercial areas were metered?

I like the idea of demand-priced parking. Walk further.