Skip to main content

The Parking Free-For-All

I can't get enough of the show Parking Wars on A&E that I blogged about a few months ago. The more I watch, the more I notice a few repeating trends.

(from flickr user lobstar28)

Few parking violators admit to wrongdoing. This might just be selective editing by the folks at A&E, but it seems like everyone who gets busted for a parking violation wants to put up a fight about it. This doesn't surprise me. When I worked the rides at an amusement park, people would routinely violate safety rules. When informed, rather than accepting the error and saying "sorry, I didn't know" many would lash out and refuse to admit any wrongdoing.

Most of the violators who get upset are upset at the wrong person. Blowing up at the person writing the ticket or booting your car really is pretty pointless. It's the lawmakers who should really be the object of hostility; but the blue-collar foot-soldiers often take the heat. This also doesn't surprise me. People at airports get more upset with the TSA people running the metal detectors than the do at Gale Rossides (the bureaucratic head of the agency, in case you didn't know) or Janet Napolitano (our current Homeland Security Secretary).

Few parking violators understand why the rules they violate even exist. Admittedly, it's hard to think about this, because it's counter-factual. A single person with an expired meter might not have much impact on everyone else, but if everyone were able to park and not feed their meters, it would be a hell of a challenge to find an open space in heavily trafficked areas (street parking in Manhattan is actually a pretty good empirical case study of this). Similarly, if one car double parks, it's an inconvenience, but if everyone started to double park without penalty, it would be an all-out traffic disaster.

In fact, because the market for parking is so challenging to appropriately price, letting people park wherever and whenever they wanted would turn it into the ultimate 'free-for-all market'.

When you think about it, if everyone just followed the rule of law, entire bureaucratic agencies dealing with parking wouldn't even exist. The fact that they do, that they employ dozens of people with an endless supply of work, and they turn big profits every year really tells you something about how willing people are to gamble with parking in places where they aren't allowed.


Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':

Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…