in his new book the high cost of free parking UCLA urban planning teacher donald shoup makes the case that urban parking has a high, hidden cost:

the free parking that americans love isn’t really ‘free’ at all. a recent parking garage project in new haven, conneticut, for example, cost more than 30 million USD for almost 1,200 spaces – that’s more than 25,000 USD per space. if you were to finance it using a mortgage, the actual cost would be over 40,000 USD per space. this breaks down to roughly 135 USD a month, or 1,600 USD a year per space – not including externalities like the air pollution and congestion created by increased trips drawn by cheap parking. even when garages and meters charge for parking,they rarely charge the real value of the parking space. (in vauban, by contrast, drivers must purchase a parking space in the garages at 40,000 USD each.) all this amounts to a massive subsidy. shoup calculates that in 2002 the total subsidy just for off-street parking was between 127 and 374 billion USD (for comparison, the budget for national defense that year was 349 billion USD).

who pays for this? everyone. the cost of building all that parking is reflected in higher rents, more expensive shopping and dining, and higher costs of home-ownership. those who don’t drive or own cars thus subsidize those who do.

the high cost of free parking free parking image

via boing boing

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