Parking Evaluation

Evaluating Parking Problems, Solutions, Costs, and Benefits


TDM Encyclopedia

Victoria Transport Policy Institute


Updated 17 April 2017

This chapter describes factors to consider when evaluating parking policies, including perspective, problem definition, and evaluation criteria. It discusses various ways to define parking problems and evaluate solutions, specific evaluation criteria, typical parking facility costs, and impacts on consumers, economic development and land use.




Introduction. 1

Defining Parking Problems and Solutions. 2

Evaluation Framework and Criteria. 3

Demand and Adequacy. 3

Parking Facility Costs. 6

Consumer Impacts. 10

Equity Impacts. 10

Economic Development Impacts. 12

Transportation and Land Use Impacts. 13

Facility Design. 14

Best Practices. 15

Related Chapters. 15

References And Resources For More Information. 17




Parking policy refers to parking facility regulation, pricing, management and design decisions. Many TDM strategies involve parking policy changes, as listed below. This chapter discusses how to evaluate these policies.


TDM Strategies That Affect Parking Policy

·         Parking Management

·         Parking Pricing

·         Shared Parking

·         Commute Trip Reduction

·         Commuter Financial Incentives

·         Transportation Management Associations

·         Bicycle Parking

·         Smart Growth

·         New Urbanism

·         Location Efficient Development

·         Transit Oriented Development

·         Access Management



Defining Parking Problems and Solutions

According to management experts, “A problem correctly defined is a problem half solved.” How parking problems are defined affects which solutions are considered and how they are evaluated.


Parking problems are often defined to mean that motorists consider parking inadequate, inconvenient or expensive. This implies that the best solution is to increase parking supply without directly charging users. But there are other ways to define parking problems that suggest other Parking Solutions. Parking problems may reflect:


·         Inadequate information for motorists on parking availability and price. The solution could be to improve use information.


·         Inadequate user options. The solution could be to improve parking options, such as letting motorists choose between convenient, priced parking and less convenient, free/inexpensive parking.


·         Inconvenient Parking Pricing methods, such as mechanical meters that require users to predict how long they will be parked and only accept certain coins. The solution could be to improve pricing systems.


·         Inefficient use of existing parking capacity. The solution could be to use Parking Management strategies that result in more efficient use of parking facilities.


·         Excessive automobile use. The solution could be to reduce Automobile Dependency and encourage transportation alternatives.


·         Concerns over spillover parking congestion in nearby areas if parking supply is inadequate or priced. The solution could be to provide parking management and enforcement in impacted areas.


·         Economic, environmental and aesthetic impacts of parking facilities. The solution could be to reduce parking supply and improve parking facility design.



Table 1 summarizes these different perspectives and the solutions they imply. This is not to suggest that there is a single correct perspective, problem definition or solution. It is often helpful to view the same problem from different perspectives, and to apply several solutions (Barter 2014).


Table 1             Comparing Perspectives of Parking Problems


Problem Definition

Potential Solutions


Inadequate supply, excessive price.

Have governments, businesses and residents supply more parking. Increase minimum parking standards.

Information Oriented

Inadequate user information.

Create signs, brochures and other information resources indicating parking availability and price.

Choice- Oriented

Inadequate consumer options.

Increase the range of parking convenience and price levels available to consumers.



Pricing is inconvenient.

Develop more convenient payment and time options.


Inefficient use of existing parking capacity.

Share parking facilities. Implement transport and parking demand management. Price parking. Provide shuttle services to parking facilities.



Excessive automobile use.

Improve access and transport choice. Transport and parking demand management programs.

Spillover Impacts

Inadequate parking causes problems in other locations.

Use management strategies to respond to spillover problems. Improve enforcement of parking regulations.

External Impacts

Parking facilities impose external costs.

Reduce parking minimums. Price parking. Improve parking facility design. Implement TDM programs. 

This table summarizes different perspectives for viewing parking problems.



Evaluation Framework and Criteria

An Evaluation Framework specifies various details of an evaluation process. A Planning Process should define its goals, objectives, evaluation criteria and performance indicators. For example, the goal of a parking program could be to improve access to an area by reducing parking problems. Objectives might be to increase parking supply, encourage more efficient use of existing parking facilities, and encourage use of alternative transportation in that area. Performance indicators might include parking and transportation costs per trip, the ease of finding a parking space, support for strategic transportation and land use objectives, and user satisfaction measured through surveys and complaints.


Evaluation Criteria refers to factors that should be considered when evaluating parking problems and solutions. Some important parking evaluation criteria are discussed below.


Demand and Adequacy

Parking Demand refers to the amount of parking that would be used at a particular time, place and price. It is a critical factor in evaluating parking problems and solutions.  Parking demand is affected by vehicle ownership, trip rates, mode split, duration (how long motorists park), geographic location (i.e., downtown, regional town centre or suburban), the quality of travel alternatives, type of trip (work, shopping, recreational), and factors such as fuel and road pricing.


There are usually daily, weekly and annual demand cycles. For example, parking demand usually peaks on weekdays at office buildings and on weekend evenings at theaters and restaurants. Parking demand can change with transportation, land use and demographic patterns. For example, a particular building may change from industrial to residential or office use, neighborhood demographics and density may change, and the quality of transit service may change, all of which affects parking demand.


Different types of trips have different types of parking demand, and different types of parking facilities tend to serve different types of trips. For example, commuters need long-term parking, and because they park all day they are relatively price sensitive. Many commuters are willing to walk several blocks for cheaper parking. Off-street parking leased by the month tends to serve commuters. Customers need shorter-term parking that is located as close as possible to their destination, and are often willing to pay a relatively high hourly price for increased convenience. On-street parking that is metered or regulated to maximize turnover tends to serve customers.


Adequacy refers to whether there is sufficient parking at a particular time and location. What constitutes adequacy varies depending on conditions and user expectations. For example, even in dense areas parking is usually adequate during off-peak periods, or at a sufficient price. Similarly, parking may be considered inadequate at a particular location, but is available a few blocks away. Unregulated parking it may be adequate for residents and employees, who park early in the day, but inadequate for delivery vehicles, customers and clients who arrive later. Conversely, parking with a 2-hour or less time limit, or is priced, may be considered adequate for short-term users but inadequate for employees and residents who must park all day.


Transportation professional organizations have developed recommended minimum parking requirements for various types of land use, as illustrated in Table 1. These standards are based on numerous parking demand studies, which are generally performed at new suburban sites with unpriced parking. Parking regulations often reflect an 85th percentile demand standard, which means that 85 out of 100 sites will have unused parking supply even during peak periods. These standards tend to be excessive for more accessible conditions, priced parking, where other TDM strategies are implemented, or where parking facility costs are high (Shoup 1999; Daisa and Parker 2010). These standards can be adjusted based on demographic and geographic factors (Cuddy 2007; Engel-Yan and Passmore 2010; Rowe, et al. 2013; Topp 2009).


Table 2             Typical Off-Street Parking Requirements (ITE, 1999)

Building Type



Single Family Housing

Dwelling Unit


Multi-Family Housing

Dwelling Unit



Dwelling Unit


Neighborhood Commercial

100 sq. m. GLA


Community Commercial

100 sq. m. GLA


Regional Commercial

100 sq. m. GLA


Office Building

100 sq. m. GFA


Fast-Food Restaurant









Light Industry

100 sq. m. GFA


GLA = Gross Leasable Area                                GFA = Gross Floor Area



Parking facilities must be located within convenient walking distance of the destinations they serve. Table 3 indicates acceptable walking distances between parking facilities and destinations.


Table 3             Level of Service By Walking - Distance in Feet (Smith and Butcher, 1994)

Walking Environment





Climate Controlled















Through Surface Lot





Inside Parking Facility





This table indicates parking access Level of Service (LOS) rating under various conditions.



Acceptable walking distance is also affected by climate, line of site (longer distances are acceptable if people can see their destination), “friction” (barriers along the way, such as crossing busy traffic), and by the type of activity and user, as described in Table 4.


Table 4             Walking Level of Service For Various Situations



(LOS A or B)


(LOS B or C)


(LOS C or D)

People with disabilities

Deliveries and loading

Emergency services

Convenience store


Grocery stores

Professional services

Medical clinics



General retail



Entertainment center

Religious institution

Airport parking

Major sport or cultural event

Overflow parking


This table indicates maximum acceptable walking distance from parking to destinations for various activities and users.



The usable parking supply serving a destination can often be increased by improving pedestrian access. Improving sidewalk or path, developing a shortcut, adding shade or rain covers along walkways, improving personal security, and aesthetic improvements can expand the range of parking facilities that serve a building or area. Users usually prefer the closest possible parking location, but given a choice, motorists sometime prefer to park further away to save on parking fees. In some situations (airports, large entertainment centers, and large commercial centers), shuttle buses may allow longer distances between parking facilities and destinations. For example, the Lloyd District Transit Oriented Development reduced the number of parking spaces required in the area from 12,000 (conventional requirements) to 3,120 (actual requirements), reducing estimated parking facility costs from $360 million to just $94 million (


Efficient Parking Management can reduce the number of parking spaces needed to provide a given level of service by Sharing parking facilities (so each space serves more destinations) and giving priority to higher value trips by Parking Pricing and regulation. A New York City pilot project found higher turnover and improved availability of on-street parking spaces after time-variable meter pricing was introduced, with higher rates during peak periods and lower rates off-peak (NYDOT 2009).



Parking Facility Costs

Most people have little idea what it really costs to provide a parking space, because they never purchase parking facilities as an individual item (parking facilities are usually bundled with buildings), and when consumers pay for parking, a portion of costs are often subsidized. For example, when a campus or city charges users to recover parking costs, land costs and property taxes are often excluded. As a result, consumers tend to underestimate the full costs of providing parking. Parking facility costs are described below. For more detailed information see the “Parking Costs” chapter of the Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis Guidebook at



A typical parking space is 8-10 feet (2.4-3.0 meters) wide and 18-20 feet (5.5-6.0 meter) deep, totaling 144-200 square feet (13-19 sq. meters). Off-street parking requires driveways (connecting the parking lot to a road) and access lanes (for circulation within a parking lot), and so typically requires 300-400 square feet (28-37 square meters) per space, allowing 100-150 spaces per acre (250-370 per hectare). On-street parking is usually 7-8 feet wide (2.1-2.4 meter) and requires 20-22 feet (6.1-6.7 meters) of curb.


Land costs can vary from just a few thousand dollars for a rural acre to more than a million dollars an acre in major urban areas. Because parking must be located adjacent to or very near to destinations, it is not usually possible to use the cheapest land.


In some situations land is available for parking at little or no additional cost, such as a part of existing road right-of-way, or part of a parcel that is not needed for buildings. But these may still have an opportunity cost. For example, using curb space for parking may require trade-offs with traffic lanes, landscaping or sidewalk space. Land used for off-street parking may displace buildings or gardens. Public land devoted to parking facilities is often treated as having no cost, but there is usually an opportunity cost. For example, land used for municipal parking facilities could be rented or sold, or converted into parks. The cost includes the reduced income and taxes, or the loss of benefits from a park.


Construction Costs

Table 5 indicates typical construction costs for various types of parking facilities. These costs increase for facilities build on poor soil or significant grades, irregular shapes, and for landscaping or facilities such as washrooms and elevators. In addition to these “hard” costs, facility development usually involves “soft” costs for project planning, design, permits and financing, which typically increase project costs by 30-40% for a stand-alone project (ITE 1999; NPA 2009).


Table 5             Typical Parking Construction Costs (PT, May 2000, p. 28)


Small Site

(30,000 sf)

Medium Site

(60,000 sf)

Large Site

(90,000 sf)

Area Per Space

350 sf

325 sf

315 sf

Surface Parking




Ground + 1 level




Ground + 2 level




Ground + 3 level




Ground + 4 level




Ground + 5level




Ground + 6 level




Ground + 7 level




Ground + 8 level




2000 U.S. dollars. Assumes rectangular site, good soil conditions, quality finish.



Structured parking involves a trade-off between construction and land costs. Structured parking typically becomes cost effective when land prices exceed about $1 million per acre. An increasing portion of new parking is provided in parking structures (about 60% of paid, off-street parking is in surface lots and 40% is in parkades).


Operation and Maintenance

Operation and maintenance costs include cleaning, lighting, maintenance, repairs, security services, landscaping, snow removal, access control (e.g., entrance gates), fee collection (for priced parking), enforcement, insurance, labor and administration. Multi-story parkades may require additional costs for fire control equipment and elevators, and underground parking may require mechanical ventilation. Private parking facilities must pay taxes and provide profits. Typical annual costs per space range from about $200 for basic maintenance of a surface lot, up to $800 for a facility with tollbooth attendants. A 1996 survey found that operating expenses for commercial parking structures average about $500 annually per space, about half of which is associated with fee collection and security (ITE 1999, p. 535):


Cashiering Salaries & Benefits






Routine Maintenance

Structural Maintenance

Snow removal

Equipment maintenance

Other expenses
















Transaction Costs

Transaction Costs are any ongoing incremental costs caused by regulations or pricing, including costs for equipment (signs, parking meters, ticket printers, access gates), attendants, land (such as sidewalk space used by parking meters) and administration. The incremental cost of Parking Pricing ranges from less than $50 annually per vehicle for a simple pass system with minimal enforcement, to more than $500 per space for facilities with attendants or automated control systems (Pricing Methods). Pricing also imposes transaction costs on motorists, including the time and inconvenience needed to pay fees.


Environmental Costs

Paving land for parking can impose environmental costs, including loss of greenspace (reduced farmland, gardens and wildlife habitat), increased impervious surfaces and related stormwater management costs (NEMO project), and aesthetic degradation (Land Use Evaluation).


The Project Clean Water ( describes various stormwater district fees, as summarized in the table below. This suggests that an off-street urban parking spaces with 333 square feet of pavement imposes stormwater utility costs $1-5 per year.


Table 6             Impervious Surface Stormwater Fees (Project Clean Water, 2002)



Annual Fee/1000 sq. ft.

Columbia Country Stormwater Utility, Augusta, GA

$1.75 monthly per 2,000 sq. ft.


Spokane Country Stormwater Utility, Spokane, WA

$10 annual fee per ERU.


City of Oviedo Stormwater Utility, Oviedo, FL

$4.00 per month per ERU


“Equivalent Run-off Unit” or ERU = 3,200 square foot impervious surface.



Total Costs

The table below illustrates examples of parking facility financial costs. This varies from about $250 per stall if otherwise un-used land is available and construction and operating costs are minimal, to more than $2,000 for structured parking with attendants. This does not include indirect and environmental costs.


Table 7             Typical Parking Facility Financial Costs (Parking Cost Spreadsheet)

Type of Facility

Land Costs

Land Costs

Construction Costs

O & M Costs

Total Cost

Daily Cost


Per Acre

Per Space

Per Space

Annual, Per Space

Annual, Per Space

Per Space

Suburban, On-Street







Suburban, Surface, Free Land







Suburban, Surface







Suburban, 2-Level Structure







Urban, On-Street







Urban, Surface







Urban, 3-Level Structure







Urban, Underground







CBD, On-Street







CBD, Surface







CBD, 4-Level Structure







CBD, Underground







This table illustrates the financial costs of providing parking facilities under various conditions. (CBD = Central Business District)



There are probably about one residential offstreet parking space, two non-residential off-street parking spaces, and two on-street parking spaces per automobile, with an average annualized cost of $400 per on-street space, $600 per residential space, and $800 per non-residential space, totaling about $3,000 annually per vehicle. Costs per space are lower in suburban and rural areas, due to lower land costs, but there tend to be more spaces per vehicle in such areas, so per vehicle parking costs are probably about the same. Most residential parking costs can be considered to be borne by users through rents. According to travel surveys motorists only pay directly for parking at 1-2% of trips, although priced parking tends to be most common at major commercial centers where the costs of providing parking facilities tends to be highest, so perhaps 5% of non-residential parking costs are paid directly by users. The costs of on-street parking are borne by governments, while most off-street parking costs are borne by businesses and other organizations. Table 8 summarizes this estimate of total parking costs per vehicle, indicating that about three-quarters of total parking costs are not paid directly by users.


Table 8             Typical Parking Facility Financial Costs (Litman, 2005)


Spaces Per Vehicle

Annual Cost Per Space

Paid Directly By Users

User-Paid Costs

External Costs

Total Costs


























$720 (24%)

$2280 (76%)

$3,000 (100%)

This table shows an estimate of total parking costs per vehicle and their distribution. It indicates that users only pay directly for about a quarter of total parking costs. The rest are borne indirectly through taxes, reduced wages, and additional costs for goods and services.



Load Factor

This refers to the portion of parking spaces that are used at a particular time, or the portion of hours or days per year that a space is used. Financial calculations should take into account load factors. For example, if parking spaces rent for $60 per month with a 50% average load factor, revenues average $30 per space. If the facility requires $50 monthly revenue per space for cost recovery, either the monthly charge or the load factor would need to increase.



Consumer Impacts

Inadequate or expensive parking causes delay and inconvenience if motorists must search for parking or walk an excessive distance to their destinations. In general, motorists prefer abundant, unpriced and unregulated parking. However, consumers ultimately bear parking facility costs through increased prices and taxes, and reduced employee benefits. In addition, underpriced parking increases vehicle ownership and use, exacerbating problems such as traffic congestion, accidents, energy consumption and pollution emissions (Roth 2004). The real choice motorists face is not between free or priced parking, but between paying for parking directly or indirectly. Parking regulation and pricing can increase consumer convenience by increasing turnover of the most convenient parking spaces so they are available for errands. Listed below are factors to consider when evaluating parking policy consumer impacts.


·         Delay and frustration tends to be greatest if motorist lack accurate information on their parking options. For example, motorists are likely to be frustrated if they expected abundant and free parking but find limited or expensive parking, or if they must spend excessive time searching for a parking space.


·         Pricing Methods are often inconvenient to use. Many require motorists to prepay based on the maximum amount of time that they may be parked and the price structure used at a particular parking space. As a result, motorists often end up paying for time they don’t actually use, and if they guess wrong (pay for 30 minutes but park for 40) they face a fine.


·         Parking regulations and pricing often seem confusing and unfair. Regulations and fees may apply at certain times but not others. Parking subsidies may be provided to some users but not others. For example, executives and employees whose jobs may require driving for business trips often receive free parking, while other employees do not.



Equity Impacts

Parking policies can have various Equity Impacts. These impacts depend on the type of parking policies, community conditions, and the perspective and assumptions used for analysis. Equity issues that are often associated with parking policies are described below.


Parking Subsidies

Policies to provide generous, free or inexpensive parking often result in cross subsidies from households that drive less than average to households that drive more than average. This violates the principle of horizontal equity. Policy changes that result in more direct payment of parking costs, reduce total parking costs, or provide comparable benefits to non-drivers tend to support equity objectives.


User charges are usually the most equitable way to fund parking facilities and transportation services, unless a subsidy is specifically justified for a disadvantaged group. Some motorists may use the following arguments for unpriced parking. Parking policies can usually be designed to address them.

·         They have already paid for parking facilities through taxes or commercial purchases.

·         Parking is free at other locations or times, so it is arbitrary and unfair to charge for parking.

·         Charging for parking is regressive and harmful to lower income motorists.



Impacts on Disadvantaged People

Parking policies can have a variety of impacts on people who are economically, socially or physically disadvantaged.


Parking Pricing is often considered regressive, since a particular fee represents a greater share of income for lower-income motorists than to higher income motorists. However, overall impacts on lower-income people depend on whether they own a car, how much they drive and park, how parking facilities are funded, and how revenues are used. Since vehicle ownership and use tend to increase with income, higher-income people tend to receive more per capita economic subsidy than lower-income people, so an alternative subsidy would be more progressive.


Unpriced parking can be considered to benefit lower-income households only if somebody else bears most cost of providing parking facilities. Given a choice between free or priced parking, with everything else held constant, lower-income motorists can benefit from parking subsidies. But given a choice between direct or indirect payment of parking (i.e., motorists are given $1,000 a year worth of free parking, but bear this cost as additional taxes or a reduction in wages), or between free parking or a generic subsidy that can be spent on other goods, pricing parking may benefit lower-income households overall.


Some parking management strategies can be particularly beneficial to lower-income people. For example, Parking Cash Out provides financial benefits to people who use alternative forms of transportation (walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit), which includes many lower-income consumers. Location Efficient Development allows households that do not own an automobile to avoid paying for parking spaces that they do not need, and makes housing purchases more affordable.


Parking policy decisions can affect Transportation Options. Improved transportation choice tends to benefit people who are transportation disadvantaged. For example:


·         Parking facilities that reflect Universal Design principles, with handicapped parking spaces and circulation paths designed for wheelchairs, better accommodate people with disabilities.


·         Parking facilities located in front of a building tend to reduce pedestrian access compared with buildings located close to the street with parking located in back.


·         Priority parking can be provided for Rideshare vehicles.


·         Parking policies that encourage higher-density, clustered development create more accessible land use, which supports walking, cycling and public transit use.



Administrative Fairness

Public officials and developers may believe that it is fairest to apply regulations consistently, with minimal variation or flexibility. This may justify applying the same parking requirements to all facilities in the same land use category, even if such standards are excessive under some circumstances.



Economic Development Impacts

Abundant and free parking is often used to attract customers and to reward employees. Businesses in areas with limited or priced parking (such as traditional downtowns and urban business districts) often feel at a competitive disadvantage compared with businesses that provide free parking (such as suburban malls and commercial centers). As a result, businesses often favor policies that increase parking supply and reduce parking prices.  These impacts depend on specific conditions, including how prices are structured, and the quality of travel and location alternatives. When parking revenues are used to improve local streetscape conditions or to fund transportation alternatives they can increase business activity in a downtown (Kolozsvari and Donald Shoup 2003).


However, businesses ultimately bear the costs of unpriced parking, directly or through taxes that they must pass on to customers. Generous parking requirements can constrain businesses in other ways. For example, the need to provide abundant free parking may prevent a business from expanding its building or choosing an optimal location. Providing free employee parking can reduce the supply of customer parking. Parking Pricing, Parking Management and other TDM strategies that result in more efficient use of parking facilities may be more profitable to businesses and support economic development better than current practices based on abundant, free parking.


Many economically successful areas, such as large commercial centers, have limited parking and high parking prices (Martens 2006). Real estate market analysis suggests that traditional urban areas, where parking is limited and priced, often experience greater economic growth than suburban areas (LLREI 2000). This suggests that parking pricing and other management strategies are not necessarily harmful to local economic development if an area is attractive and accessible in other ways (Roth, 2004; Martens, 2006). Using existing parking supply more efficiently tends to support TDM and Smart Growth objectives, providing additional economic, social and environmental benefits.



Transportation and Land Use Impacts

Parking policy impacts on various strategic transportation and land use objectives are discussed below.


Transportation Demand Management

Many communities have objectives to reduce peak-period automobile traffic and encourage use of alternative modes. Parking policies affect the frequency, timing and destination of vehicle trips, and even the number of vehicles a household owns (Elasticities). Parking policy changes support most other TDM strategies. For example, reduced parking supply and increased parking price can be an effective component of a Commute Trip Reduction program, particularly if it includes improvements to alternative modes (Hensher and King, 2001). Such objectives should be considered when evaluating parking policies.


Transportation Options

Many communities have objectives to improve transportation choice, including cycling and pedestrian conditions, ridesharing and transit service (Evaluating Transportation Options). Generous parking requirements help create low-density land use patterns with dispersed destinations and unattractive streetscapes, that are unsuited for walking, and therefore for transit, since transit trips usually involve pedestrian links. Devoting land and funds to automobile parking often reduces the resources available to support other modes. As a result, policies that increase parking supply tend to reduce overall transportation choices


Land Use

Many communities have Smart Growth strategic land use objectives that include reduced urban expansion, higher density and clustered development, greenspace preservation, increased urban infill and redevelopment, and more attractive streets (Land Use Evaluation). Parking policies can have significant impacts on these objectives. Generous, free parking tends to create low-density, automobile-oriented land use patterns, and increase the costs of urban redevelopment, reducing housing affordability (Cutter, Franco and DeWoody 2010). Parking policy changes can support Smart Growth land use objectives.


Spillover Congestion

Parking regulations and pricing in one area can cause spillover problems, including traffic congestion as motorist cruise for parking or stop in a traffic lane to wait for a space, and parking congestion in nearby areas. For example, parking congestion in commercial areas can result in parking congestion on nearby residential streets, or illegal use of off-street parking at nearby businesses. Spillover parking problems can be addressed by pricing, regulation and enforcement in areas that experience such problems, and compensation to residents who bear negative impacts. For example, residents near high schools and colleges may be given free tickets to sport events to compensate for spillover parking problems that occur during such events. These impacts and possible solutions should be considered when evaluating parking policies.



Facility Design

Parking facility design features affect user convenience, comfort and security, and environmental impacts and aesthetics. Alternative parking facility design options should be considered when evaluating parking policies and solutions. Examples of specific parking design objectives and guidelines are described below.


·         Shared Parking among different users and buildings can result in more efficient use of parking supply and increased flexibility in parking facility design.


·         Newer parking facility design standards can improve safety and convenience for motorists and pedestrians.


·         Universal Design features make parking facilities better accommodate special needs, such as people with disabilities, and people using strollers and handcarts.


·         Aesthetic and landscaping design features can make parking facilities more attractive and integrated into the streetscape (Smith 1988) and reduce stormwater management costs (NEMO Project).


·         Locating buildings close to the street, with parking facilities behind, can help create a more accessible, pedestrian-friendly streetscape (New Urbanism).


·         Various facility design and equipment options can be used for Parking Pricing and access control.


·         Clustering parking and reducing the number of driveways onto arterials can improve traffic flow and safety, and create more accessible land use patterns (Access Management).


·         In general, a larger number of small parking spaces are more useful and attractive than fewer, larger parking facilities.



Best Practices

This section summarizes factors to consider when evaluating parking policy options.


·         Identify specific problems to be addressed, or planning goals and objectives.


·         Consider the widest possible menu of Parking Solutions, including management strategies that result in more efficient use of existing supply.


·         Identify demographic, land use, economic, and transportation factors that affect parking demand.


·         Identify policy, management, regulation or pricing factors that can be used to control parking demand.


·         Identify spillover problems that may be created by policies.


·         Identify the incremental costs and benefits of polices, including costs to consumers, businesses, governments, neighbors (e.g., spillover impacts), and the environment.


·         Evaluate polices in terms of strategic transportation and land use objectives, including transportation demand management and Smart Growth objectives.


·         Identify who bears the costs and enjoys the benefits of polices, and whether a policy favors one group over others.


·         When citizens oppose Parking Pricing, determine how much of their concern relates to specific pricing methods, and consider use of newer fee collection systems that are more convenient and fair to motorists.



Related Chapters

Parking Solutions describes various strategies that can help address parking problems. Parking Management, Parking Pricing, Shared Parking, Bicycle Parking and Commute Trip Reduction directly affect parking policies. Land use management strategies such as Smart Growth, New Urbanism and Location Efficient Development also affect parking regulation and management. TDM Evaluation and Price Evaluation provide additional discussion of economic evaluation.


Wit and Humor

It’s an interesting linguistic fact that, in English, a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language in which a double positive can form a negative.

Yeah, right.


Examples and Case Studies


Urban On-Street Parking Opportunity Costs

Minikel (2010) estimates the opportunity cost and revenues of on-street parking at Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He compares metered curb parking to other possible uses of the same space, including additional building space, sidewalk space and bike lanes. The analysis indicates that metered parking is currently underpriced compared with nearby off-street parking lots (which charge several times as much per hour) and the value of nearby land (which currently averages $300 per square feet), and so does not recover its opportunity costs. The study concludes that it would be rational to either significantly increase on-street meter rates or allow those parking spaces to be converted to other uses.

Seattle Parking Planning Tools (

King County’s Right Size Parking Project ( has developed practical tools for more accurately calculating parking demand, taking into account geographic and economic factors. The study found that parking demand per unit declines with increased transit proximity, local population and employment density, and parking price (the amount that residents must pay extra, if any, for a parking space), and increases with rents, unit size and number of bedrooms. The resulting model can be used to determine the parking supply needed in a particular development.


GreenTRIP Parking Database (

The GreenTRIP Parking Database measures the number of parking spaces per unit, their occupancy rates, and the cost of that unused spaces for various residential buildings in the San Francisco Bay area. The results indicate that there is a significant amount of unused, costly parking supply which residents must pay for but do not actually want. This reduces housing affordability. This information can help developers, planners and policy makers better determine the number of parking spaces that are actually required in a particular type of development, and therefore avoid unnecessary costs.


Porirua, New Zealand Parking Supply and Demand (Hulme-Moir 2010)

Most New Zealand cities impose generous minimum parking requirements based primarily on American data published by the Institute of Traffic Engineers. A parking study in Porirua, a city of 50,000 residents, found:

·         All parking in Porirua City is free.

·         Private offstreet lots made up 65% of the total parking stock.

·         Parking supply was heavily underutilized. The mean occupancy was 45% (Thursday) and 35% (Saturday). Average peak-period occupancy was 62%. Only 3 out of 22 lots were considered full (85% occupancy) during peak periods.

·         Parking demand was poorly related to the predicative variable (Gross Floor Area).

·         Having additional parking available within 200 meter walking distance substantially reduced demand at a particular parking lot, since some motorists would park off-site.

·         Free parking is a substantial hidden cost. Charging users directly for parking would increase the financial cost of driving 30-90% for an average shopping trip and about 100% for an average commuting trip.

·         Parking facilities use 24% of city land, compared to 7% greenspace and 4% recreation.

·         Commuters were surveyed concerning their choice between paying to park in the CBD, park for free a 3 minute walk away, or changing mode. The results indicate that most commuters were more willing to pay to minimize their walking distances, and were reluctant to change mode. The results indicate a -0.6 price elasticity (a 10% price increase reduces parking demand 6%) and a -0.9 walking time elasticity (a 10% walk time increase reduces parking demand 9%.



European Parking Management (Kodransky and Hermann 2011)

Many European cities are implementing innovative parking policies, as described in Europe's Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation. The report examines European parking over the last half century, through the prism of ten European cities: Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Strasbourg and Zurich. It found:

·         Parking is increasingly linked to public transport. Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich and Strasbourg limit parking supply in new developments based on proximity to bus, tram and metro service. Zurich added tram and bus lines while making parking more expensive and less convenient. As a result, between 2000 and 2005, transit mode share increased 7% and automobile mode share declined 6%.

·         European cities increasingly charge for on-street parking. In Paris, the on-street parking supply has been reduced more than 9% since 2003, and of the remaining stock, 95% is priced. Along with other transport improvements, this reduced driving by 13%. Parking reforms are considered a more feasible way to reduce vehicle traffic than congestion charging.

·         Revenue gathered from parking tariffs is being invested to support other mobility needs. In Barcelona, 100% of revenue goes to operate Bicing—the city's public bike system. Several boroughs in London use parking revenue to subsidize transit passes for seniors and the disabled, who ride public transit for free.


References And Resources For More Information


Paul Barter (2010), Parking Policy in Asian Cities, Asian Development Bank (; at Also see


Paul Barter (2011), Promising Parking Policies Worldwide: Lessons for India? presented at the International Conference on Parking Reforms for a Livable City, 17 August 2011, New Delhi  (


Paul A. Barter (2014), “A Parking Policy Typology for Clearer Thinking on Parking Reform,” International Journal of Urban Sciences (, at


Sally Cairns, et al (2004), Smarter Choices - Changing the Way We Travel, UK Department for Transport ( This comprehensive study provides detailed evaluation of the potential travel impacts and costs of various mobility management strategies. Includes numerous case studies.


Robert Cervero and G. B. Arrington (2008), “Vehicle Trip Reduction Impacts of Transit-Oriented Housing,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 1-17; at


Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath and Samer Madanat (2010), “Parking Infrastructure: Energy, Emissions, And Automobile Life-Cycle Environmental Accounting,” Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 5, No. 3; at; project of the UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport (


Mikhail Chester, Andrew Fraser, Juan Matute, Carolyn Flower and Ram Pendyala (2015), “Parking Infrastructure: A Constraint on or Opportunity for Urban Redevelopment? A Study of Los Angeles County Parking Supply and Growth,” Journal of the American Planning Association, 81(4): 268–286; at Also see, “Do Cities Have Too Much Parking?” Access Magazine, at


CORDIS (2001), Parking Policy Measures and Their Effects on Mobility and the Economy, COST 342, CORDIS (


CSE (2011), International Conference on Parking Reform, Center for Science and Environment (; at


Matthew R. Cuddy (2007), A Practical Method For Developing Context-Sensitive Residential Parking Standards, Dissertation, Rutgers University; at


W. Bowman Cutter, Sofia F. Franco and Autumn DeWoody (2010), Do Parking Requirements Significantly Increase The Area Dedicated To Parking? A Test Of The Effect Of Parking Requirements Values In Los Angeles County, Paper No. 20403, Munich Personal RePEc Archive (; at


James M. Daisa and Terry Parker (2010), “Trip Generation Rates for Urban Infill Uses in California,” ITE Journal (, Vol. 79, No. 6, June 2010, pp. 30-39.


Stuart Donovan (2011), Convenient, Affordable Parking When and Where You Need It: The Benefits Of Accurate Pricing and Smart Technologies, Frontier Centre For Public Policy (;


Joshua Engel-Yan and Dylan Passmore (2010), “Assessing Alternative Approaches to Setting Parking Requirements,” ITE Journal (, Vo. 80, No. 12, December, 30-25.


Marcus Enoch and Stephen Ison (2006), “Levying Charges On Private Parking: Lessons From Existing Practice,” World Transport Policy & Practice, Vol. 12, No. 1 (, pp. 5-14.


Ríos Flores, et al. (2014), “Practical Guidebook: Parking and Travel Demand Management Policies in Latin America,” Inter-American Development Bank, (; at


Lawrence D. Frank, et al. (2011), An Assessment of Urban Form and Pedestrian and Transit Improvements as an Integrated GHG Reduction Strategy, Washington State Department of Transportation (; at


GreenTRIP Parking Database ( measures the number of parking spaces per unit, their occupancy rates, and the cost of that unused spaces for various residential buildings in the San Francisco Bay area.


Timothy Haahs, Editor (2009), Parking Management – Planning, Design and Operations, Volume 3 in the Parking 101 Series, International Parking Institute

(; at


David A. Hensher and J. King (2001), “Parking Demand and Responsiveness to Availability, Pricing and Location in the Sydney Central Business District,” Transportation Research A, Vol. 35A, No. 3, pp. 177-196.


Hexagon Transportation Consultants (2008), Results of Parking Demand Surveys for FCH Affordable Studio and Senior Housing Developments in San Jose, with Existing ECO-pass Programs for Tenants, First Community Housing, City of San Jose (; at


Angus Hulme-Moir (2010), Making Way for the Car: Minimum Parking Requirements and Porirua City Centre, Thesis, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington (


International Parking Institute (


International Conference on Parking Reforms for a Livable City, Centre for Science and Environment (, 17 August 2011, New Delhi; at Presentations:

·         Anumita Roy Chowdhury: Parking policy: Getting the principles right

·         Paul Barter: Promising Parking Policies Worldwide: Lessons for India?

·         Michael Kodransky: Europe’s Parking U-Turn 

·         Dr. Errampalli Madhu: Parking Pricing as TDM Tool 

·         Sanjiv N. Sahai: Parking Reforms for a Liveable City

·         Piyush Kansal: Parking Demand Management Study for Central Delhi

·         Abhijit Lokre: Parking Reforms for a Liveable City

·         Our Experiments with Parking

·         Parking Reforms for Liveable City : Hyderaba



ITE (1999), Transportation Planning Handbook, Institute of Transportation Engineers (


ITE (2005), Parking Generation, Institute of Transportation Engineers (


Michael Kodransky and Gabrielle Hermann (2011), Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (; at


Douglas Kolozsvari and Donald Shoup (2003), “Turning Small Change Into Big Changes,” ACCESS 23, University of California Transportation Center (, Fall 2003, pp. 2-7; at


J. Richard Kuzmyak, Rachel Weinberger, Richard H. Pratt and Herbert S. Levinson (2003), Parking Management and Supply, Chapter 18, Report 95, Transit Cooperative Research Program; Transportation Research Board (


Todd Litman (2001), What’s It Worth? Life Cycle and Benefit/Cost Analysis for Evaluating Economic Value, Presented at Internet Symposium on Benefit-Cost Analysis, Transportation Association of Canada (; at


Todd Litman (2003), Parking Requirement Impacts on Housing Affordability, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2005), “Parking Costs,” Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis: Techniques, Estimates and Implications, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management Best Practices, Planners Press (;


Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation and Planning, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management: Innovative Solutions To Vehicle Parking Problems, Planetzen (


Todd Litman (2006), Evaluating Transportation Land Use Impacts, VTPI (;


Todd Litman (2006), Parking Taxes: Evaluating Options and Impacts, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2007), Pavement Buster’s Guide: Why and How to Reduce the Amount of Land Paved for Roads and Parking Facilities, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2007), Parking Management: Comprehensive Implementation Guide, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2009), Land Use Impacts On Transport: How Land Use Factors Affect Travel Behavior, VTPI (; at


Todd Litman (2010), Parking Pricing Implementation Guidelines: How More Efficient Pricing Can Help Solve Parking Problems, Increase Revenue, And Achieve Other Planning Objectives, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at


Todd Litman (2011), “Why and How to Reduce the Amount of Land Paved for Roads and Parking Facilities,” Environmental Practice, Vol. 13, No. 1, March, pp. 38-46;


Todd Litman (2017), Reforming Municipal Parking Policies to Align With Strategic Community Goals, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at  


Todd Litman, Daniel Carlson, Aaron Blumenthal and John Lee (2010), Evaluating Seattle Parking Tax Options, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (, and the Washington State Transportation Center (; at


Michael Manville and Donald Shoup (2005), “People, Parking, and Cities,” Journal of Urban Planning and Development, December, 2005, pp. 233-245; at,Parking,CitiesJUPD.pdf; summarized in Access 25, (, Fall 2004, pp. 2-8.


Greg Marsden (2006), “The Evidence Base For Parking Policies - A Review,” Journal of Transport Policy, Vol. 13, No. 6, pp. 447-457; at


Wesley E. Marshall and Norman W. Garrick (2006), “Parking at Mixed-Use Centers in Small Cities,” Transportation Research Record 1977, Transportation Research Board (;; also see, 'Place First' Parking Plans (


Karel Martens (2005), Effects of Restrictive Parking Policy on the Development of City Centers, Environmental Simulation Laboratory, Tel Aviv University, for Israeli Ministry of Transport; at


Karel Martens, Itzhak Benenson and Slava Birfir (2008), Evaluating Urban Parking Policies with Agent-Based Model of Driver Parking Behavior, Transportation Research Board 87th Annual Meeting (


Metro Vancouver (2012), Metro Vancouver  Apartment Parking Study; Revised Technical Report, Metropolitan Planning, Environment, and Parks (; included in 7 Sept. 2012 Regional Planning And Agriculture Committee Agenda at Also see, “Apartment parking spots lift development costs in Vancouver,” Georgia Strait,


Eric Vallabh Minikel (2010), Evaluating Whether Curb Parking Is The Highest And Best Use Of Land In An Urban Commercial District: A Case Study of Harvard Square, Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (; at


MRSC (2005), Downtown Parking Solutions, Municipal Research and Service Center of Washington (; at


NEMO Project ( provides resources to reduce impervious surface area.


NPA (2009), Parking In America, The National Parking Association’s First Annual Review of Parking Rates in the United States and Canada, National Parking Association (; at


NYDOT (2009), PARK Smart Greenwich Village Pilot Program – Results, New York City Department of Transportation, ParkSmart Program (; at


Ottawa (2015), A 90 Second Lesson in How Parking can Kill Cities, Treehugger (; at


Derek Palmer and C. Ferris (2010), Parking Measures and Policies Research Review, Transport Research Laboratory (; at


Parking Reform website ( promotes various reforms, particularly parking pricing with revenues returned to local communities and businesses.


PAS (2009), Parking Solutions: Essential Info Packet, Planning Advisory Service, American Planning Association ( at These packets consist of compilation of related documents that provide practical information on various parking management strategies, suitable for use by planners and developers. These include:

·         Parking Solutions (130 pages) includes six documents that describe modern approaches to parking management.

·         Shared Parking (133 pages) includes more than thirty documents concerning shared parking, parking in-lieu fees, parking requirement reductions and exemptions, and downtown district special parking requirements.

·         Green Parking Lot Design (66 pages) includes three documents that describe ways to improve parking lot environmental performance including landscaping, stormwater management and reduced heat island effects.

·         Permeable Pavement and Bicycle Parking (38 pages) includes five documents concerning the use of permeable parking lot pavement materials and five documents concerning bicycle parking requirements and design.



Push and Pull ( project website provides information on various parking management programs in Europe.


Right Size Parking Project ( has developed practical tools for more accurately calculating parking demand, taking into account geographic and economic factors


Daniel Rowe, et al. (2013), “Do Land Use, Transit and Walk Access Affect Residential Parking Demand?” ITE Journal, Vol. 83. No. 2, February, pp. 24-28; at  This article summarizes the results of King County’s Right Size Parking Project (


Gabriel Roth (1965) Paying for Parking, Hobart Paper 33 (London); at


Gary Roth (2004), An Investigation Into Rational Pricing For Curbside Parking: What Will Be The Effects Of Higher Curbside Parking Prices In Manhattan? Masters Thesis, Columbia University; at


San Diego (2011), Affordable Housing Parking Study, City of San Diego (; at


Schaller Consulting (2006), Curbing Cars: Shopping, Parking and Pedestrian Space in SoHo, Transportation Alternatives (; at


Donald Shoup (1999), “The Trouble With Minimum Parking Requirements,” Transportation Research A, Vol. 33, No. 7/8, Sept./Nov. 1999, pp. 549-574; at


Donald Shoup (2005), The High Cost of Free Parking, Planners Press ( This is a comprehensive and entertaining book of the causes, costs and problems created by free parking, and how to correct these distortions. Podcast at


SJSU (2011), A Parking Utilization Survey of Transit-Oriented Development Residential Properties in Santa Clara County, San José State University ( and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority; at; summary at


Mary S. Smith and T. A. Butcher (1994), “How Far Should Parkers Have to Walk?” Parking, Vol. 33, No 8, September.


Thomas P. Smith (1988), The Aesthetics of Parking, PAS, American Planning Association (


Steven Spears, Marlon G. Boarnet and Susan Handy (2010), Draft Policy Brief on the Impacts of Parking Pricing Based on a Review of the Empirical Literature, for Research on Impacts of Transportation and Land Use-Related Policies, California Air Resources Board (


Mike Spack (2012), Trip Generation Study – Private Student Housing Apartments, Spack Consulting (; at


Ruth Steiner, et al. (2012), Impact of Parking Supply and Demand Management on Central Business District (CBD) Traffic Congestion, Transit Performance and Sustainable Land Use, Florida Department of Transportation Research Center (; at


Christopher A. Topp (2009), Arapahoe County Parking Utilization Study Concerning Residential Transit Oriented Development, School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver; at


Sophie Tyler, Giles Semper, Peter Guest & Ben Fieldhouse (2012), The Relevance Of Parking In The Success Of Urban Centres, A Review, London Councils (; at


USEPA (2006), Parking Spaces / Community Places: Finding the Balance Through Smart Growth Solutions, Development, Community, and Environment Division (DCED); U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (


UTTIPEC (2010), Parking Policy as a Travel Demand Management Strategy, Delhi Development Authority (; at


Erin Vaca and J. Richard Kuzmyak (2005), Parking Pricing and Fees, Chapter 13, TCRP Report 95, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board, Federal Transit Administration (


VTPI (2006), Parking Cost, Pricing and Revenue Calculator (, by Todd Litman; and the  Parking Costs, Pricing and Revenue Calculator - Developing Country Edition (, by Yash Saxena. These spreadsheets can be used to calculate parking facility costs, cost recovery pricing, and revenue generation. The spreadsheets include default values which users can adjust inputs to represent various conditions and assumptions.


Rachel Weinberger, John Kaehny and Matthew Rufo (2009), U.S. Parking Policies: An Overview of Management Strategies, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (


Rachel Weinberger, et al. (2013), Parking Guidebook for Chinese Cities, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (; at


Wilbur Smith Associates, et al. (2006), Developing Parking Policies to Support Smart Growth in Local Jurisdictions: Best Practices, Draft Report, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (; at


Richard Willson (2015), Parking Management for Smart Growth, Island Press (; at

This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.




Encyclopedia Homepage

Send Comments


Victoria Transport Policy Institute

1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC,  V8V 3R7,  CANADA

Phone & Fax 250-360-1560

“Efficiency - Equity - Clarity”