The Federal Highway Administration developed a document, Contemporary Approaches to Parking Pricing: A Primer, to encourage discussion and innovation within the parking field.

The primer discusses advances in parking pricing policy, available parking technology, preferred user accommodations, and strategies for gaining public acceptance for parking policy changes. The primer includes numerous examples of innovative parking policies and will help communities design strategies that are applicable to their unique needs. An overview of the content included in the primer is provided below.

Parking Pricing Primer CoverParking Pricing: Two basic approaches to parking pricing are discussed: 1) free and fixed-rate pricing and 2) performance-based pricing. Within performance-based pricing there are two primary strategies: variable and escalating prices, both of which can help communities better manage their parking supply. With performance-based pricing, rates and rules are set to achieve specific goals, often a specified level of parking availability. Definitions, details, and examples of each parking policy are provided.

Technology: The successful implementation of a performance-based pricing policy requires a certain level of technology for the collection of data that drive policy decisions and the regular adjustment of parking rates. Details are provided on many of the currently available parking payment technologies and data collection tools along with options for implementing performance-based pricing with constrained budgets and when available parking assets and tools are not the most advanced.

Employer and Developer Focused Parking Pricing Strategies: Governments directly control only a small portion of parking, but strategies exist to encourage the pricing of privately held parking. Information is provided on policies available to local governments to assure that value is assigned to parking and that residents and businesses are not forced to purchase or lease parking spaces. Options discussed include taxes, cash out, transportation allowances, and unbundling.

Preferred User Accommodations: Preferred users are defined within the primer as those who receive preferential parking access or pricing. They include local residents, commercial vehicle operators, the disabled, government employees, and car sharing companies. Addressing parking demand issues associated with these users is vital to the implementation of a holistic parking policy. The primer provides examples from numerous cities of innovative policies to manage the parking demand created by these preferred users.

Public Acceptance: Community members often react strongly to changes in parking policy. Addressing community concerns requires the development and implementation of an effective communication strategy, outreach plan, and, potentially, marketing plan. A process for developing these items is provided along with examples from SFpark and Ventura, California.

Case Studies: Case studies are provided that discuss parking policy innovation in Seattle, Aspen, Colo., and Washington, DC. Discussed policies include performance parking, residential parking permits, and disabled parking.

Download the primer today, and printed versions will be available in August 2012. Please e-mail Allen Greenberg if you would like to be mailed a printed copy or contact him for more information about the strategies discussed in the primer, after you have reviewed the document.

Allen Greenberg
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration