Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Cost of Free Parking

We here at Fat Knowledge are raving anti-car-ites. We are also old school economists who believe that when things are free or are paid for by the government it typically leads to overuse. So we were glad to see this article.

Policies that require overconstruction of off-street parking spaces and subsidize on-street parking are fueling higher housing prices, extreme automobile dependence, extravagant energy use, rapid urban sprawl and environmental degradation, said Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA and author of "The High Cost of Free Parking."

In 2002, as much as $374 billion was spent nationally to subsidize off-street parking -- roughly as much as the government spent on Medicare or national defense that year, according to the book.

Parking is free for 99 percent of all automobile trips and the average car is parked 95 percent of the time.

There are between three and four parking spaces for every car in the United States, or between 705 million and 940 million spaces. If all U.S. parking spaces were combined into one surface lot, it would cover a land area the size of Connecticut.

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