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HCoFP: chapter 10, Reduce demand

I ran across this "total cost of car ownership" calculator.
Nothing special about it, except I noticed that there's no question or input box for parking costs. You'd have to remember and stick them in with "other fees". Seems... illustrative.


You can also let developers reduce demand rather than providing parking. Like providing free transit passes to employees or tenants. One study found "ride-alone" share dropping from 76% to 60% and transit use going from 11 to 27%; parking was reduced 19%.

Many commuters won't ride transit even when free, so employers can bulk buy passes from agencies on the cheap; Santa Clara sells Eco Passes for $5-80 a *year*, vs. $420/year for individual purchases. And the Eco Pass includes a free taxi ride home for transit users, in the event of illness, emergency, or unscheduled overtime.

Conservatively: if every 6 passes at $80 each saves you one parking space at $26,000 in construction cost or in-lieu fees (Mountain View low end), that's $480/year to save $26,000 in capital cost, not counting lower garage operating costs as well. $480 is 1.8% of $26,000, so it's a great deal if your interest rate is higher than 1.8%. Which it is.


Passes in general are subject to adverse selection: heavy transit users tend to be the ones buying them, driving up the cost, a la insurance death spirals. Per capita cost of providing transit passes to an an entire urban population -- or making it zero-fare -- might be a fair bit lower.

For developers, passes could be more attractive: they're a benefit tied to the development, vs. public parking funded by in-lieu fees, which helps competitors as well. Also the cost varies with the number of people, vs. the fixed cost of parking capacity.

High density transit oriented development (TOD) especially would benefit from this, since parking is more expensive in denser areas. This awakens me to an oddity of the TOD by Wellington station that I found last year: yeah, there's six story apartment buildings with retail under them, but to get to the train station you have to go through a big-ass parking structure and then down a long walkway. And looking at Google Maps, the garage is a solid block taking most of its, er, block, while the other buildings are thinner Ls that make way for yet more parking spaces on the ground, dominating the area.

California TOD is apparently pretty ineffective, with most employers offering parking not passes.

Universities can arrange for ID cards to be passes (IU did.) Stadiums could pay to have tickets good for free transit on the day of the game -- especially useful given how few days a year stadiums are in use; rather silly to be paying for a peak parking structure that's empty over 300 days a year. Hotels could offer passes to guests, both getting out of parking and reducing rental car expenses. And like in-lieu parking fees, this isn't just for new buildings, but can allow conversion of old ones and infill of old parking.


Another tactic: California law requires many employers to offer parking cash-outs to employees, taking cash instead of free parking. This can reduce driving to work by 11%. He says the offer costs $24/year per employee because of the money not spent on providing parking, but doesn't spell out what the actual cash offer to the employee is.

BTW, I like his apparently numerical conservatism. Having spent an earlier chapter establishing parking costs of $15-30K, he'll then use $10,000 for an example.

While searching on cash-outs I found this: " Employers offer employees subsidized parking because these benefits are usually untaxed. A typical employee must earn $1,500 or more in pre-tax income to pay for a parking space that costs their employer only $1,000 to provide". Also has a table; cash-out ranged from $18 to $126/month.


Car sharing is another option, and in some San Francisco City CarShare program, 29% of the members had gottern rid of a car within two years, though 8% had bought one. Cities could allow a developer to reduce spaces if a shared car is provided.

Next, part 2: Cruising for Free Parking.

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Damien Sullivan

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