Performance-based parking goes both ways, let your city’s first adjustment be a rate decrease.
Demand for central city parking is, most likely, at all-time lows in many cities due to COVID-19 concerns and stay-at-home orders. It’s too soon to tell how long this disruption will last, but if no one is going downtown, should cities be charging current rates for on-street parking?
Performance-based parking management means charging the right price based on demand. Cities that have been waffling on implementing performance-based parking policies because raising rates is unpopular should take advantage of the situation now and LOWER rates first, but only if they have a policy in place to increase them once demand picks up.
As an example, Portland, Oregon passed a performance-based parking management policy almost two years ago and has yet to make their first adjustments. Given the current state of affairs it is unlikely that any increases recommended by pre-Coronavirus occupancy data would be implemented any time soon. Meanwhile, someone who drives downtown for a pickup or delivery will pay $2.00/hour to park on the empty streets. Temporarily reducing rates to $1.00 wouldn’t be to increase demand, we’re not trying to attract new customers to downtown during the pandemic, but to affirm that data-driven rate policy isn’t a money grab, it’s common sense.
Unfortunately, Portland’s performance-based policy, like that of several other cities, is not nimble enough, rates are only supposed to be adjusted once a year, up or down by a maximum of $0.60. Now would be a good time to toss those timelines and restrictions out the window. Portland has waited years to make the first adjustment, based on extensive studies. If Portland had a shorter cycle for increasing or decreasing rates, it wouldn’t matter if the adjustment in one zone was off a little, it would get corrected easily. The benefit of quicker iteration is you don’t have to get it perfect the first time.
So cities should probably cut their rates now, all the data they need is to look out the window. If they have a performance-based policy already, they should adjust it to ensure that rates don’t stay low for a year, check in every month for a while! If a city doesn’t have a data-driven rate setting plan, they should set an end date for the rate cut (say 60 days) and get to work passing a dynamic pricing policy.
One more thing, dynamic pricing has been done in a number of cities already. There’s several flavors to choose from. Don’t waste time and money re-inventing the wheel. It’s more like ECON101 than rocket science. Just put it on the books, give people price relief now, and start turning your parking spaces into bus-only lanes.