TMG Insights

1. Urban & Regional Planning 2. Economics & Analysis

City of New Orleans Changes Parking Fees and Hours

Finding a parking spot in a dense downtown area is a challenge. In a rainstorm, in a hurry, already late… Often it seems to come down to luck. But maybe the chance of finding a spot can be improved.

Urban planners have studied how parking impacts neighborhoods and communities. And cities have worked to implement solutions. The City of New Orleans recently announced it will be increasing rates for surface parking and expanding times when parkers need to pay for parking in high demand areas.

parking studyWhile a primary goal is to increase city revenue, research in parking behavior indicates that another benefit of increasing parking fees is to increase the parking turnover. Essentially, as parking on the street becomes more expensive, drivers limit their time in any space, and increase parking availability for a finite number of on-street spaces. Additionally, long term parkers adjust their behavior and park further away making closer parking spaces available more frequently for the short-term parker.

Recently, in 2012, TMG prepared a study of best practices for the Urban Land Institute and hosted a forum featuring Professor Donald Schoup of UCLA on how dynamic pricing for on-street parking can increase turnover and improve space availability. In Shoup’s model, parking spaces in high demand have a higher price than parking spaces in low demand and prices adjust throughout the day to reflect the demand. The goal of the Shoup model is to increase turnover in high demand areas/time to ensure that there are always 1-2 parking spaces open at any given time. While higher prices for parking may sound like a bummer for drivers and businesses, Shoup argues it can improve the experience for everyone and help reduce carbon emissions at the same time.

Here’s how:

  1. Drivers: With higher prices, drivers are incentivized to park further away if they are looking for long-term parking; this means the parking spaces in high demand areas are reserved for short-term parkers. If only short-term parkers are parking in high demand spaces, there is more turn-over. With more turn-over, there is a high chance that a short-term parker will find a parking space in the first lap around the block.
  2. Businesses: When more short-term parking is available, patrons have an easier time finding a parking space near the businesses they want to visit. The business is easier to access and becomes less of a hassle for patrons to stop in. In addition, it means tourists and patrons who are not in a hurry are parking further away and walking past your business.
  3. Environment: With more turn-over and more available parking spaces, drivers are able to find their parking space quickly which reduces congestion common in busy downtown areas caused by cars circling the block looking for a parking space.

parkingThe TMG study examined congested areas of New Orleans to consider the existing regulations, current supply of street parking, existing technology for control and collections, and the estimated demand. We presented case studies for New York City, San Francisco, Boulder, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Austin; established an implementation regime; and recommended next steps.

New Orleans’ new procedures are focused on statically increasing fees and expanding the time period for paid parking. However, other major cities have implemented dynamic pricing models based on demand—usually based on the area and time of day. Urban leaders are beginning to embrace the concept that efficiently pricing on-street parking frees up capacity. Ultimately, as cities work for solutions to traffic congestion, public transportation access, and goods and services delivery, the need for research and analysis to guide officials, developers, and citizens will grow. New Orleans’ parking rate increase may be the start of a wider conversation about transportation issues – congestion, public transit, work and leisure accessibility – in one of the most popular cities in the world. It is certain that the challenges and opportunities for improving urban core access via parking and other transportation policies are being considered, and modern policy innovations are being developed, as cities work to improve competitiveness and livability.

TMG performs similar studies and research for public policy issues and a variety of economic benefit analyses and other planning efforts.  In many cases, our work can drive consensus on policies with hard numbers and clear metrics.  Please contact us for more information.

Submitted by:

Ross Chapman, P.E., Principal

Bonnie Garrigan, AICP
Manager of Economic Analysis

The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

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