Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Market Rate Parking Meters

Vary cost based on demand.
  (+7, -3)
(+7, -3)
  [vote for,

A point was made in a blog today (see link below) that if parking meters were priced correctly there would always be spaces - they may be extremely expensive in some areas around lunchtime, but they'd be the right price for someone in a hurry to park.

The idea is to simply vary parking meter prices. For any given block, all of the meters charge based on how many spots are taken. If the street's empty, charge $0.25/hour. Half full, $0.50. Two spaces left, $20. One space, $50. Over time, have these rates automatically adjust to try to keep a few spaces always open.

This would be easily implemented with modern digital parking meters, or even with the type that prints out a window sticker (but a sticker would only be valid for that block).

Worldgineer, Dec 05 2008

Blog article mentioned in idea. http://yglesias.thi.../parking_meters.php
[Worldgineer, Dec 05 2008]

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       Some people suggest that parking should be free (and i'm one). Reduce conjestion and polution, and parking will be available when you need it by providing the right amount of spaces. If there's no spaces then there's not enough!
superjohn, Dec 05 2008

       Clever and logical idea - might be worth a trial. On the other hand it's yet another way of making cities nicer places for the rich and pretty hard going for the poor. I guarantee central London rates would never drop below £20/hr.   

       Overall - neutral.
wagster, Dec 06 2008

       There's nothing that should drive away business more efficiently than this idea, such a thing would hurt overall sales but would drive up business for the free-parking rivals :|   

       That is very petty business, kind of like what a politician would do to pay for expensive roadside pottery decor, what is the advantage of this Worldgineer?
quantum_flux, Dec 06 2008

       ....Oh, I see, of course you can go ahead and do that in Chicago [+].
quantum_flux, Dec 06 2008

       The basic idea is to reduce congestion caused by circling the block looking for a spot. This results in wasted time for the driver, wasted time for others on the road, and higher fuel use for everyone. I'm happy to give subsidies to the poor in helpful ways, but not in ways that encourage them to drive to shop.   

       I'd argue that sales wouldn't be hurt in the slightest. You still have the same number of cars that would park on a given block (well, minus one or two) - meaning the same number of customers - they'd just be paying the correct (from a supply-demand perspective) price for parking. Actually, you might get more customers, since many might shop quicker knowing how much parking costs per minute.
Worldgineer, Dec 06 2008

       Yes, that only really works in small and densely crowded areas though. Try doing that in wide open areas with a more loosely packed capita and you'll lose business though, people will just drive another 3 miles to give their money to another store without the meters just because they're used to not paying for parking.
quantum_flux, Dec 07 2008

       In a free market, speculators will fill the spaces when cheap and sell them later.
DenholmRicshaw, Dec 07 2008

//For any given block, all of the meters charge based on how many spots are taken.//

       Or let each meter set its own price based on trends for its own position. The higher the demand at midday, the higher the price. No business at midnight, the price drops. That way there's no need to communicate with other meters. The going rate should be shown in a big display, however, so that people know what they're getting into: "Parking 5 miles ahead, only $2.40/hr! Meter 74."
ldischler, Dec 07 2008

       [quantum] That's a strange argument. If everyone left for other stores, parking would be about free (a penny a spot, if the machines take pennies). In fact, parking will always be cheap enough to lure the same number of people, minus a car or two.   

       //really works in small and densely crowded areas though// Well, not necessarily "small". I was thinking of cities. Though I still think this would work for towns as well. We subsidize cars far too much, and free parking is a good example of this. If parking is free then you probably have too much of it and your town isn't pedestrian friendly.   

       [ldischler] I was imagining a time component to this as well, with prices adjusting per time of day. But I don't see a reason for meters to work independently - that would cause people to circle looking for the best rates. Even single blocks may be too small of an area, and I'd be fine with expanding this to multiple block areas.
Worldgineer, Dec 07 2008

       Never underestimate the frugality of a mostly all republican state.
quantum_flux, Dec 08 2008

       Just convince people that they waste more money on gas by searching for the cheap meter.
Spacecoyote, Dec 08 2008

       Hey [World] I like the idea.   

       In areas where commodities are made available at a fixed price on a first-come-first-served basis - whether it's ticket sales, parking places, freshly baked croissants, or just low-low prices - queues develop.   

       And isn't a queue just natures way of creating a market?(nature abhors a free-ride) It's just that instead of investing in effort (i.e. cash) you are instead forced to invest your time (by being earlier than everyone else) - So in one way, I'd suggest that queues are a form of market already - the only difference being that the commodity being 'traded' is time, rather than currency.
zen_tom, Dec 08 2008


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