Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to Win Converts to Paid Parking

I, like many transportation consultants, spend a great deal of time trying to convince people that it is in their best interest, and that of their community, to charge for parking. Paid parking encourages all types of positive behavior including employees staying out of customer spaces, the use of alternative transportation, and the funding of needed infrastructure.

In a recent issue of Atlantic Cities, Emily Badger interviews Jeff Tumlin, a transportation consultant, about what it takes to sell paid parking. “Somebody who’s screaming about ‘parking needs to be free!’ I can sit down with them for 20 minutes and get them to understand,” he says. “But it takes a full 20 minutes. And in a world where everything has to be distilled into 15-second sound bites, it’s really hard to convince people on a large scale.”

Jeff goes on to say that new technology and services are making it easier to charge for parking. "The advent of pay-by-credit card technology allows cities to raise the price of parking to where enough people are turned away onto alternate forms of transportation, without upsetting the people who are now paying more. That’s the trick of credit cards (and a lesson plenty of other businesses have long understood): People don’t mind paying more for something when they don’t actually have to hand over that difference in cash (or coins)." I have often said that if you take something (i.e money to park) you have to give something (i.e. new ways to pay, better level of service).

But, one of the hardest arguments to overcome is the question as to wether or not paid parking charges are a burden on the poor? Well Jeff goes onto explain that,"The poorest people, he’s found, aren’t looking for parking because they don’t own cars. But among the rest of this demographic, he says surveys show that poor people also place an extremely high value on their time. They too often say they’re willing to pay a little more for parking if it means they don’t have to waste time looking for it."

Read the full story here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A New Transportation Funding Paradigm

Leaders throughout the country are recognizing the limitations of federal aid and turning to voters to voluntarily increase their taxes or institute additional fees to improve the quality of their transportation networks. Will voters go along?

An article in "The Transport Politic" takes a close look at Seattle and Atlanta, each in the midst of its own effort to raise taxes and fees. In Atlanta, a regional initiative supported by political and business leaders across a ten-county area will advance a 1% sales tax to the ballot next November. Over half of the billions in locally raised funds is to be transferred to capital and operational programs. In Seattle, an enthusiastic mayor is articulating a grand, citywide strategy to bring high-quality transit to his city as quickly as possible. If approved by voters, a significant increase in the vehicle registration fee could mean rapid streetcars and more bus rapid transit."

The article goes on to discuss what it takes to pass such a tax/fee. The article reports on Mineta Transportation Institute's study examining eight case studies and determined that the importance of consensus among business, elected and environmental interest groups and a well orchestrated and savvy, well funded media message is critical to success.

Check out the article here.