Contemporary parking methods are both inefficient and ineffective for reducing congestion in the transport system. In particular, these methods result in either a lot of vacant spaces when they are overpriced or none when underpriced. As a result, they lead to traffic congestion, wastage of fuel and time, and also pollution. Performance parking is a modern system of managing parking lots using the Goldilocks principle. In this method, each parking lot is charged on an hourly basis depending on its demand. Accordingly, performance parking is efficient and effective in transport management since it controls the number of vehicles in the parking garage and reduces the amount of unnecessary movements made by drivers as they look for empty lots.
According to Shoup, performance parking is efficient in decongesting cities and enhancing the local economy (33). Shoup opines that the hourly pricing mechanism of this system limits the amount of time that individuals are always willing to leave their vehicles in parking lots. Shoup also notes that in performance parking, prices of empty lots depends on their location and demand, which entices drivers to park in areas that they would ordinarily not prefer. In this regard, the performance parking system is also effective in reducing traffic congestion.
Despite the advantages of performance parking systems, many factors determine how a person parks, which Shoups has overlooked. As such, his suggestions are not entirely accurate. Firstly, a place where a person decides to park his/her vehicle is not strictly dependent on price. Factors such as accessibility, security, and desire determine the location where a person wants to keep his/her car. People always want to park their vehicles in areas that are accessible. This individualistic desire undermines the role of the performance parking system. For example, a person may be willing to spend more time looking for a parking lot near his/her office building than to leave his/her car in a cheap lot that is half a mile away. In this regard, performance parking is not effective in reducing traffic congestion since most people will still look for lots that are within their desired parking area.
Security is another factor that undermines the efficiency of performance parking. Usually, a person evaluates the safety of his/her vehicles in a specific locality and of himself/herself when walking to and from the parking garage. Obviously, parking lots that are in insecure areas or where there are criminals, who steal car accessories such as side mirrors, are not desirable. Furthermore, most people will still avoid parking lots that are in dark and insecure locations. Given that security is a significant factor in determining the area where a person leaves his/her car, it is likely that safe garages will always be crowded even in cities that are using the performance parking system.
Usually, people have the desire to see their vehicle, especially if it is new. Therefore, it is simplistic to believe that individuals will park their cars in parking lots that are in distant places simply because they are cheap. In practice, most people will make every possible attempt to find a parking lot near their locality, and settling for a far-off garage would only be the last result. In this regard, garages near places where most individuals leave or work will always be crowded, and there will still be much wastage of time and fuel as people look for lots in these areas.
Shoup asserts that performance parking increases carpoolers, which also leads to an increase in customers visiting business areas (5). This conclusion is accurate because, in performance parking, the fees are charged based on the time a car spends on a lot. This system, therefore, discourages individuals from using their vehicles when going shopping and makes them prefer cheaper options such as carpooling. Furthermore, the use of hired cars and the increased turn over of parking lots reduces the congestion levels in parking garages, which makes business areas to be more accommodative to customers who have vehicles.
Performance parking is effective in promoting a business because its varying price system is effective in making drivers park for only a few minutes. This mechanism ensures that there are always empty lots for new customers (Cohen and Yannis 84). Based on Cohen and Yanis argument, Shoup’s suggestion that a decrease in the price of the vacant parking lots can increase their demand is correct. In practice, a reduction in parking prices during off-peak hours can encourage most individuals to shop during this time, which can help in minimizing the overall congestion levels in a shopping area.
Although performance parking can reduce traffic congestion and increase trade, it needs other complementing policies and infrastructure to make it fully functional. For people to park in far-off garages, they should be assured of the security of their vehicles and also their safe access to these areas. Additionally, there is a need for the provision of short distance commuter trains and trams from the parking garages to individuals’ residences or working premises to make far-off parking lots accessible.
Cohen, Simon, and George Yannis. Traffic Management. 1st ed., Wiley-ISTE, 2016.
Shoup, Donald. “Yes, Parking Reform Is Possible.” Planning, Oct. 2011, pp. 30-35.