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A Temporal and Spatial Equilibrium Analysis of Commuter Parking

  • Richard Arnott

In major cities parking costs typically exceed automobile running costs, while the time to find a parking spot and walk to work can be comparable to driving time. Yet models of urban commuting have ignored parking completely. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of parking on morning rush hour congestion and to assess the relative merits of road tolls and parking fees as tools for congestion relief. The paper extends Vickrey's (1969) bottleneck road congestion model by assuming on-street parking is located along commuting routes radiating from the CBD. Absent pricing, drivers occupy parking spots in order of increasing distance from the CBD. Three pricing schemes are considered: 1) an optimal time-varying road toll, 2) competitively set parking fees, and 3) optimal location-dependent parking fees. The optimal road toll is shown to eliminate queueing, but does not affect the order in which parking spots are occupied. In contrast, competitive parking fees do nothing to reduce queueing , but induce drivers to park in order of decreasing distance from the CBD, so that in the aggregate commuters arrive at work closer to their preferred time. Optimal parking fees reduce queueing in addition to supporting the efficient order of parking. For reasonable parameter values competitively set parking fees are found to be relatively inefficient-indeed potentially welfare-reducing. Optimal parking fees, however, are generally superior to a road toll. In light of the logistical drawbacks of tolls and political opposition that road pricing has met, this suggests that parking fees deserve more attention than they have received in the literature.

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File URL: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/research/math/papers/884.pdf
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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 884.

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Date of creation: May 1990
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:884
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  1. Lee, N & Dalvi, M Q, 1969. "Variations in the Value of Travel Time," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 37(3), pages 213-36, September.
  2. Vickrey, William S, 1969. "Congestion Theory and Transport Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 251-60, May.
  3. David W. Gillen, 1977. "Alternative Policy Variables to Influence Urban Transport Demand," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 10(4), pages 686-95, November.
  4. Arnott, Richard & de Palma, Andre & Lindsey, Robin, 1990. "Economics of a bottleneck," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 111-130, January.
  5. Small, Kenneth A, 1982. "The Scheduling of Consumer Activities: Work Trips," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 467-79, June.
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