Congestion pricing is becoming the commonly prescribed cure for what ails the city. But what if there was another approach to traffic management that could yield similar results with less infrastructure, fewer privacy concerns, and help make housing more affordable, too?
Second, use curb zones for their best uses and price them appropriately. Bike lanes and transit priority lanes are the best use. If that’s not politically possible, then the space should be permitted and/or metered and market priced for performance. Allocate space for parking scooters, bikes, deliveries, and passenger loading, charge for these uses when in high demand. (Important: give some of the money directly to poor people and spend the rest to subsidize other modes)
Third, require a employers who voluntarily pay for employee parking to offer all employees a cash equivalent option. Parking cash-out is a simple and nearly free policy, but most employers won’t offer it unless they have to. So make them!
Fourth, implement a peak-hour commuter parking surcharge. If an office worker enters or exits a daily/monthly garage during peak traffic hours, charge a couple bucks. Bonus if the charge is equivalent or more than a transit pass. (Important: equivalent peak hour surcharges for ride hailing or autonomous vehicle trips are critical, too)
Fifth, impose a tax on surface parking lots. Ideally, the tax would be based on the site’s potential use, but a flat per-stall rate would be a fine start. This should encourage re-development of existing lots and discourage new ones.
Sixth, charge impact fees on new parking stalls to discourage new parking supply. Parking is not a beneficial community amenity, the external costs of new parking should be paid by the developer (who will pass the cost onto the user).
Individually, these are all good policies, but they combine like a classic recipe! A good comprehensive parking policy can do a lot of the work congestion pricing does, but it’s less invasive and easier to implement. By discouraging driving, repurposing space to transit and bikes, and reinvesting parking revenue in other modes these policies can help us combat climate change, save lives, and make housing more affordable.