July 29, 2010
Planet Money has the details:
The system will use electronic sensors to measure real-time demand for parking spaces, and adjust prices accordingly. When there are lots of empty spaces, it will be cheap to park. When spaces are hard to find, rates will be higher. "It's basic supply and demand," Shoup said. The range in prices will be huge: from 25 cents an hour to a maximum of $6 an hour, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority.It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out. If it's successful, it will function as much-needed evidence that Donald Shoup's theories on parking work outside of the halls of academia. It should also highlight the unexpected consequences, of which there are certain to be at least a few.
Recently I've been thinking about Donald Shoup's book The High Cost of Free Parking - a book sometimes dubbed the 'bible of parking design and planning'. I've checked this book out from the library more than once, but I'm yet to read it all the way through. Yes, Shoup's book is well-researched and thorough, it's very much like a textbook - the kind of textbook you trudge through for a class but get little pleasure out of reading. It's the kind of book that few people outside of a very narrow audience will ever think about picking up.
Parking is an important topic though. It's unique is that something that most Americans deal with in their lives every single day, even people who don't regularly drive cars. I wish Shoup would write a condensed version of the book, aimed at a wider audience, that would help make his ideas easier to explain to those who don't so much care about the details of it all.