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Trade free parking for free transit: An idea that would reduce congestion and fund mass transportation


Added 11-13-19 05:13:02am EST - “Free parking seems to be part of the normal order of our streets, like traffic lights and crosswalks. Although metering often exists near retail and during busy times, approximately 97% of the city's curbside parking spaces are given…” - Nydailynews.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Nydailynews.com: “Trade free parking for free transit: An idea that would reduce congestion and fund mass transportation”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Free parking seems to be part of the normal order of our streets, like traffic lights and crosswalks. Although metering often exists near retail and during busy times, experts estimate that approximately 97% of the city’s curbside parking spaces are given away at no cost.

Recently, some public interest groups, a few city officials and the transportation committee of my community board, which I chair, have floated the idea of curtailing or eliminating this benefit. Most car owners view this as something akin to violating an urban law of nature in order to punish them for owning a car. My community’s much larger group of non-car owners is also mostly opposed to taking something of value away from their neighbors.

The benefit of free parking to a car owner is clear to all of us. The cost, however, is not. The explanation that free parking imposes an “opportunity cost” is particularly unhelpful at community meetings on this subject. The argument is often misunderstood, viewed skeptically or seen through the lens of a much-regretted economics class taken in college. It pits economic theory against someone who just wants to be able to park their car.

The cost of free parking can, however, be made very clear. It is, simply, free subway and bus service every day for every person.

Specifically, if the city metered each of its 3 million free parking spots and collected an average of $6 per spot per day, it could replace the approximately $6.5 billion per year in revenue lost from ending all fare collection. Once free mass transit is seen as what the city could have if it gave up on free parking, the choice between the two becomes clear.

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