Car Parking

Parking has been quite a hot topic for the last few weeks in the blog/twittersphere and one I am interested in, the economics of it is quite interesting

A good post on the topic today by John Dales

Firstly, in the absence of evidence supporting the health-giving powers of more/cheaper parking, politicians should not commit themselves so whole-heartedly to a policy direction that may actually not achieve the positive outcomes they claim with such a show of crusading self-righteousness. Secondly, the relevant research that I have been able to unearth suggests, at the very least, that anyone who genuinely has the health of high streets at heart would be far better off promoting access by walking, cycling and public transport, than by car.

I commented on the matter myself over at the Alternative DfT when discussing parking in the borough of Westminster

Let’s look at the economics of the parking spaces…

The cost of a resident’s parking permit is £115 if bought online
The average price of a Pay and Display parking space is £3.25 per hour.
The average occupancy rate of a parking space in the borough is 61.5%

Therefore the value of a parking space is £17,509 per annum.
3.25 x 24 x 365 x 0.615

Meaning residents with cars are subsidised £17,394 per year

Council tax is about £8-900 and further up Dave H says car ownership is less than 50%. If Westminster charged their residents just 20% of the market value of the space they could drop council tax to £0 for all residents, maybe the >50% of non car owning households would be interested in knowing this.

Residents permits –
Pay and display charges –
Occupancy rates –

Even when taking into account the elasticity of the market and how the price of a parking space would fall if all the resident’s spaces became P&D, it still must be true that a resident’s space is being subsidised for several thousand pounds per year. That subsidy has to come from somewhere and in no small part it will be being paid for by the non-motoring residents of the borough who will be paying higher taxes than necessary so that other people can park cars at a reduced cost, cluttering the street and endangering people as they do it. It is probably also quite true that the non-motoring residents will be poorer than the car owning residents, yet they have to fork out 50% minus £115 of the cost of the resident’s parking bill.


3 thoughts on “Car Parking

  1. The trick with parking prices is that it’s entirely about the other effects.

    What happens to property prices when people without cars are put off moving to the area by the prospect of paying thousands of pounds a year to park at home — and then, competing for their spaces with visitors?

    How much more traffic is there, and how many more accidents (and tailpipe emissions), when residents are driving around neighbouring streets of an evening trying to find a suitable space?

    What else haven’t we thought of, in trying to assign a simple cash “value” to a parking space?

    I don’t claim to know the answers to any of these questions, but it’s pretty obvious they’d need to be answered by an council considering jacking the price of residential permits to “market rate” for a P&D space or converting all spaces to P&D.

  2. I did some research on parking charges and revenue in Cambridge city centre and estimated that a resident’s parking permit was worth around £1,500 a year, or almost exactly the same as their council tax. The price for the permit is just £81.

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