Public parking fees and fines

Public parking fees and fines: A Survey of U.S. Cities

From Public Works Management and Policy

The low cost of parking in many American cities may contribute to urban development that relies on automobile use and undercuts planners’ efforts to increase public transport, according to this study.  It reports on downtown public parking costs after surveying public parking agencies in 107 U.S. cities. “The role of policies in regulating the supply and cost of parking in inducing automobile use has been understudied,” said lead author “Indeed, the lack of systematic large scale data on parking costs has prevented researchers from even looking at this question”.

During the past 25 years, the number of miles Americans drive has grown three times faster than the U.S. population. The predominant form of development, low-density sprawl, has encouraged automobile use and has worsened the challenges of providing convenient and low-cost public transportation. In the U.S., relatively low user fees in the form of road pricing, tolls and gas prices have been cited as important reasons for increased automobile travel. This study provides baseline data for comparison in future parking studies. In conclusion, the authors recommend that cities, employers and housing developers consider parking regulations within a comprehensive transportation management framework that aims to promote non-automobile travel.



Researchers and practitioners who are interested in whether low parking costs may play a role in skewing travel toward the private automobile and away from transit have been hampered by the lack of systematic data on parking costs. This exploratory study reports on downtown public parking costs using a 2009 survey of public parking agencies in 107 U.S. cities. On average, on-street meters allowed parking for up to 2 hr and charged $1.00 per hour while off-street “commuter” lots charged $11 per day. Median fees for violating regulations ranged from $25 (meter violations) up to $200 (handicapped parking violations). Exploratory multivariable regression results found higher parking cost was associated with an increase in public transit miles in larger cities (adjusted for economic features of the city). This preliminary, exploratory study provides baseline data with which to compare future parking data that could inform parking policy’s influence on mode choice.

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Article details
Amy H. Auchincloss, Rachel Weinberger, Semra Aytur, Alexa Namba, and Andrew Ricchezza
Public Parking Fees and Fines: A Survey of U.S. Cities
Public Works Management & Policy 1087724X13514380, first published on March 14, 2014 doi:10.1177/1087724X13514380





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