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USDOT Resources: Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing 2011
FHWA Webinar Series

Patrick DeCorla-Souza, Tolling and Pricing Program Manager, FHWA
Lee Munnich, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
Kenneth Buckeye, Minnesota Department of Transportation
John Doan, SRF Consulting

Center for Innovative Finance Support
Federal Highway Administration

Eleventh Part of a Webinar Series on Overcoming the Challenges of Congestion Pricing.

Session 11: Best Practices in Parking Pricing - Webinar


  • Via Computer - No action needed
  • Via Telephone - Mute computer speakers, call 1-866-863-9293 passcode 47214728

Presentations by:

Audience Q&A: addressed after each presentation, please type your questions into the chat area on the right side of the screen

Closed captioning was available at:

Upcoming Webinars:

Recordings and Materials from Previous Webinars:

Part 1: Best Practices in Parking Pricing

Allen Greenberg
FHWA Office of Operations
February 23, 2012


  • Many dimensions of underpriced parking and its consequences
  • Broad range of parking pricing strategies available
  • Value Pricing Pilot Program support of different parking pricing strategies
  • Focus on "performance pricing" for on-street parking in this Webinar


Parking costs are typically hidden from drivers, who therefore see few if any opportunities to save on such costs.

Subsidized and hidden parking costs lead to increased driving, more vehicle ownership, and substantially higher housing costs.

Problem Manifestation

  • Minimum parking requirements for housing substantially increase costs and reduce supply
  • Minimum use-based commercial and office parking requirements hinder redevelopment and raise costs
  • Over 90% of private employers subsidize employee parking, while only 6% subsidize transit

Solution (1)

Eliminate parking requirements, enabled by pricing on-street parking (differently for visitors and residents) to ensure appropriate availability, thereby eradicating the "parking spillover" rationale for such requirements.

Solution (2)

Enact state laws or local ordinances to require employers who choose to subsidize employee car parking to offer a similar "cash out" subsidy to employees using alternative transportation.


  • The Value Pricing Pilot (VPP) Program sets aside $3 million of the $12 million annual program budget "only for congestion pricing pilot projects that do not involve highway tolls," including parking pricing among other strategies.

VPP Program Support:

  • Parking cash-out and "right sizing parking" in King County
  • On-street parking pricing in New York City
  • "Flexible" monthly parking in Minneapolis
  • University parking pricing at Stanford and Cal Berkeley
  • Combining "unbundling of parking" with carsharing in residential buildings in San Francisco
  • SF park "performance parking" pilot

VPP Program Newly Funded:

  • Delivery vehicle real-time parking availability information and reservations and occupancy-based pricing in Seattle
  • Evaluation of comprehensive, area- wide parking pricing strategies as a form of "cordon pricing" in San Francisco

VPP Program Parking Future:

  • Considering nine parking applications out of a total of 23 applications for FY 2012 funding
  • Current applications cover a broad range of parking strategies, including employer commute benefits, multimodal on-street parking management, priced park-and-ride parking, and parking pricing modeling and evaluation using new tools
  • Program funding announcement is expected in June 2012

The High Cost of Free Parking coverPart 2: The High Cost of Free Parking

Donald Shoup

Cruising for Cheap Curb Parking

  • Off-street: $20/hour
  • Curb: $1/hour

Off-street - $20/hour Curb parking $1/hour

Cruising for cheap curb parking

  • Suppose you want to park for 1 hour
    • Curb parking costs $1.
    • Off-street parking costs $20.
    • How long would you be willing to cruise for curb parking rather than pay the higher price for off-street parking?
Table 11-5 Cruising for Parking
Year City Share of traffic cruising (percent) Average search time (minutes


1927 Detroit 34%  
1934 Washington   8.0
1962 New Haven 17%  
1965 London   6.1
1966 London   3.5
1966 London   3.6
1977 Freiburg 74% 6.0
1984 Jerusalem   9.0
1985 Cambridge 30% 11.5
1993 Cape Town   12.2
1993 New York 8% 7.9
1993 New York   10.2
1993 New York   13.9
1997 San Francisco   6.5
2001 Sydney   6.5
2005 Los Angeles 68% 3.3
2007 New York 28%  
2007 New York 45%  
2008 New York   3.8
2011 Barcelona 18%  
Average   34 7.5

Cruising in New York

Researchers interviewed drivers who were stopped at traffic lights.

  • Are you searching for curb parking?
    • 28 percent of drivers on a street in Manhattan said they were searching for curb parking.
    • 45 percent of drivers on a street in Brooklyn said they were searching for curb parking.

What is the right price for parking on the street?

  • The price is too high if many curb spaces are vacant because businesses will lose potential customers.
  • The price is too low if no spaces are vacant because drivers will congest traffic and pollute the air as they circle the block searching for an open space.
  • The price is just right if one or two curb spaces are usually open on every block because drivers can always find convenient parking at their destinations.
  • The Goldilocks principle of curb parking prices.

Performance Parking Prices

  • The right price for curb parking is the lowest price that will leave one or two vacant spaces on each block - performance pricing
  • Performance prices adjust over time to maintain a few vacant spaces.
  • The goal is to keep about 85 percent of the parking spaces occupied all the time.
  • About one curb space is vacant on each side of each block so that everyone can see that convenient parking is available everywhere.

Curb parking prices and cruising

  • Get the prices right

Curb parking prices and cruising

Before SF Park

After SF Park

Pricing Map Meter Rate Changes

Higher prices for special events

  • Parking meter Some areas host large, well-publicized events that greatly increase the demand for parking.
  • Concerts, conventions, parades, street festivals, sports events.
  • Curb parking prices for special events can range up to $18/hour.
  • Curb parking prices will be based on surveys of the prices at private off-street parking for the events.

Meter information

Open space on street Street parking full

Open space again Street parking full again

Parking is well used but readily available

Parking chart

Stop the Parking Meter Hike poster Stop the Parking Meter Hike poster in Spanish


2. Revenue Return

Parking meter sign "Your meter money makes a difference"

Parking comic - lady putting coins in meter that fall directly down to the devil

Ladies holding a parking sign

Ventura parking ordinance

  • A program of managing on-street and off-street parking to achieve a 15% vacancy rate.
  • Using metered parking to achieve a vacancy rate of 15% eliminates the need for time restrictions on those metered parking spaces.
  • All moneys collected from parking meters in this city shall be placed in a special fund, which fund shall be devoted exclusively to purposes within the geographic boundaries of the parking district from which the revenue is collected.

Park It Downtown sign

Ventura News Release - Merchants support meters


"As our case is new, so must we think anew, and act anew. "
- Abraham Lincoln


Part 3: SF Park

Jay Primus

SF Park logo - Circle Less, Live More


SF Park logos


What is parking like in San Francisco?

Photo of parking scene

How did we get here?

Photo of old parking meter

What is the SFMTA doing about it?

Photo of car


Demonstrating a new approach to parking


Parking census

Parking Census map

Managing employee parking

Employee parking tags

Coin and card meters

Artist concept meter

Parking sensors

Photo of a parking sensor

Real-time information

Photo of a cellular phone

Pricing at parking meters and lots

  • Demand responsive to find lowest possible prices
  • Gradual and periodic changes: $0.25 up or down every 4-6 weeks
  • Time of day pricing (vary by block + weekday/end)


Time of day fee chart

Demand responsive rate adjustments


Rate changes by metered hours
  1st rate change 2nd rate change 3rd rate change 4th rate change
Up $0.25/hr 26% 25% 27% 26%
No change 42% 37% 38% 39%
Down $0.25/hr 28% 30% 29% 30%
Down $0.50/hr 4% 7% 6% 5%

Pricing at SFpark parking garages

Photo of SF Park garage facility

Low-tech demand-responsive pricing

  • Occupancy data can come from
    • Parking sensors
    • Parking meters
    • Manual surveys


Enforcement image

Initial revenue evaluation (new meters/time limits)

Revenue changes graphs

Garage wayfinding + advertising

Wayfinding Wayfinding

Automatic data collection

  • Supply data (census, asset management, street closures)
  • Parking data (from sensors, meters, and citations)
  • Garage data (usage by hour)
  • Travel demand data (roadway sensors, highways PEMS, BART, Muni)
  • Muni data (travel time data from APCs)
  • Parking tax
  • Sales tax
  • Safety (SWITIRS collision data)
  • Exogenous (fuel price, CPI, unemployment, precipitation)

Manual data collection

  • Parking search time
  • Double parking
  • Disabled placard
  • Occupancy in residential areas
  • Motorcycle occupancy
  • Vehicle occupancy
  • Intercept surveys (professional survey firm)

Data management and analytics

Diagram of data management process

What's next

Through Spring 2012

  • Roll out pay by phone (citywide)
  • Continue to develop business intelligence tool
  • Continue to improve and document business processes

Spring through late 2012

  • Initiate variable message signs
  • Accelerate sharing and dissemination of lessons learned
  • Develop proposal for expanding SFpark citywide
  • Release RFPs
  • Evaluate pilot projects

High level lessons learned

  • Focus on availability (not turnover)
  • Shifting how people think about parking takes time
    • Extensive outreach
    • Branding is useful
  • Having a transparent, rules-based, and data-driven approach helps
  • SFpark is essentially a complex IT undertaking
  • Parking equipment is not plug and play

Sharing our resources

Photo of SF Park booklet

Thank you

Jay Primus

Part 4: DDOT Value Pricing Initiatives

Damon Harvey, Actg. Citywide Program Manager
Soumya Dey, P.E., Deputy Associate Director

Webinar on Best Practices in Parking Pricing
February 23, 2012

Pay to Park sign

What is Performance Based Parking?

Performance parking is a curbside management strategy DDOT began in March 2008 in the Ballpark District of Ward 6.

Performance parking works by adjusting the rates and/or the time restrictions on metered blocks while protecting the parking supply on surrounding residential and mixed used corridors through increased residential parking enforcement.

Data Collection Process and Outcomes

In 2011, DDOT and COG enhanced the data collection methodology and approach by generating per block occupancy and turnover rates based on actual manual counts instead of mathematical formulas measuring curbside footage. The purpose of this data collection effort was to determine the impact of performance parking in the vicinity of the Washington Nationals Ballpark in southeast and Near Southeast DC.









AWAY GAMES ZONE A 1,553 31% 590 12% 387 8% 2,482 50%
ZONE B 811 32% 316 13% 309 12% 1,066 43%
ZONE C 2,321 45% 412 8% 559 11% 1,897 37%
TOTAL 4,685 37% 1,318 10% 1,255 10% 5,445 43%
HOME GAMES ZONE A 1,917 34% 714 12% 479 8% 2,610 46%
ZONE B 1,078 24% 778 17% 796 17% 1,931 42%
ZONE C 3,135 44% 568 8% 657 9% 2,728 38%
TOTAL OR AVG. 6,130 35% 2,060 12% 1,932 11% 7,269 42%

Block by Block Data Collection





A 900   3 10 333% 16 533% 1:27
A 100 M Street, SW 3 6 200% 12 400% 1:20
A 1600   6 16 267% 19 317% 1:58
A 1100   8 11 138% 21 263% 2:12
B 900 Half Street, SE 5 7 140% 11 220% 0:46
B 1000   24 14 58% 67 279% 1:56
B 1000   3 4 133% 6 200% 2:01
B 1200   22 19 86% 46 209% 2:13
A UNIT   8 8 100% 13 163% 1:25
A 1500 Half Street, SW 22 22 100% 34 155% 0:08

Data collectors used two or three private vehicles outfitted with LPR systems traveling the same routes continuously for eight hour intervals for three consecutive days, including a Saturday or Sunday This consists of a digital camera, a laptop computer, a video conversion unit (to convert images from the camera into a format acceptable for computer processing and a global positioning system (GPS) unit.

Columbia Heights Pilot Zone Data Collected

2011 Curbside Occupancy Rate

There are 44 blocks within the Columbia Heights pilot zone

  • 32 or 73% of the blocks have an occupancy rate below 85%
  • 12 or 27% of the blocks have an occupancy rate at or above 85%
  • 6 blocks have multi space meters (MSMs) with variable hours of operation
  • 3 MSM blocks or 50% have an occupancy rate at or above 85%

There are 44 blocks within the Columbia Heights pilot zone

The average turnover in the Columbia Heights pilot zone is 2:47

  • 1:58 is the average turnover on multi space meter (MSM) blocks
  • 2:52 is the average turnover on non metered streets in pilot zone

Data Collection Process and Outcomes

Table 2: State's of registration (with duplicate registration numbers removed)
D.C. Maryland Virginia Other or unknown
2005 42% 785 16% 406 8% 1635 34%

These MSM blocks above 85% are:

  • 3000 block of 14th Street: 89%
  • 3100 block of 14th Street: 130%
  • 3300 block of 14th Street: 100%

The remaining nine blocks with occupancy rates at or above 85% are:

  • 3000 block of 13th Street: 113%
  • 3300 block of 13th Street: 85%
  • 1200 block of Columbia Road: 86%
  • 1500 block of Columbia Road: 140%
  • 1200 block of Irving Street: 113%
  • 1300 block of Irving Street: 110%
  • 1200 block of Monroe Street: 86%
  • 1300 block of Monroe Street: 86%
  • 1200 block of Park Road: 92%

H Street signage

H Street NE Pilot

Beginning in March 2012 DDOT will begin performance based parking on all meters along the H Street, NE corridor from 3rd Street, NE to 15th Street, NE/Benning Road, NE. Performance based parking is a curbside management strategy DDOT has used since March 2008 with the introduction of the first pilot zone in the Ballpark District of Ward 6.

Implementation Timeline

DDOT is working with Council member Tommy Wells' office to have a public kick off meeting during the first two weeks of February. At this event the department will provide an overview of performance based parking and modifications coming to the corridor.

After the kick off meeting DDOT will provide community stakeholders with approximately 30 days to review and comment on the plan before implementation.

Performance based parking will complement streetcar along the corridorDDOT will begin variable rate meter operations along the H Street, NE corridor on all 36 multi space meters (MSMs) as well as Resident Only RPP on blocks within the RPP database as follows:

  • North: I Street, NE
  • East: 15th Street, NE/Benning Road, NE
  • South: G Street, NE
  • West: 3rd Street, NE

H Street NE Baseline Meter Rates

DDOT will measure Occupancy Rates for all metered spaces along the corridorDDOT's networked MSM's along H Street, NE have the capacity for time of day or hourly variable rate meter operations. The idea of time of day meter operations is not new to the District performance parking zones.

In March 2009, when the department began performance parking operations in Columbia Heights, DDOT implemented a similar strategy. The original meter programming in Columbia Heights provided for two hour time limits in the mornings and three hour time limits in the afternoons and evenings at the same rate.

In July of this year DDOT shifted from time of day meter operations to hourly variable rates on all performance parking meters in Columbia Heights and extended the meter hours of operations until 10pm. DDOT will use the same phased implementation approach along the H Street, NE corridor at the following rates: 7am to 6:30pm: $.75 per hour with a four hour limit 6:30pm to 10pm: $2.00 per hour with no time limit


PilotZone boundaries are from 3rd Street, NE to 15th Street, NEThe occupancy rate target for metered curbside parking along the H Street, NE corridor will be between 80% and 90%; just as in the Ward 6 Ballpark District pilot. An occupancy rate set between these percentages will mean that approximately one or two spaces will be available out of every ten MSM spaces.

An occupancy rate target of 80% to 90% is standard in other jurisdictions implementing congestion pricing programs but it is by no means perfect. For example, the city of Seattle has a target occupancy rate of 60% in its zones and they have a very successful program. Seattle's target may be too low for the District, however after a year of analysis with regular updates using meter revenues the department will have a clear idea whether the target needs to be adjusted.


The H Street, NE performance based parking enabling law limits the Resident Only RPP and visitor passes to one block on each side of the corridor as follows: North: I Street, NE East: 15th Street, NE/Benning Road, NE South: G Street, NE West: 3rd Street, NE.

At the outset of pilot zone operations DDOT will provide each household on existing RPP blocks within one block of H Street, with Resident Only RPP enforcement as well as one visitor pass per household.

Map showing H Street area

Presentation Outline

  • How "dynamic" do we need to be with our pricing strategies?
  • How accurate do we need to be with real-time sensor information?
  • Asset Lite Solutions
    • Do we need meters for all spaces?
    • Minimize sensor usage

How "Dynamic"

Dynamic pricing spectrum chart

Dynamic Pricing Spectrum

  • We are here | Fixed Price by TOD - adjusted periodically
  • We want to be here | Variable Pricing - adjusts in real time based on real-time availability
Pros and cons on Real-Time Price Adjustments
Pricing Strategy Advantages Disadvantages
Fixed Price by TOD

Pricing structure easy to understand for consumers

Easy to communicate

"Average" availability will be 1 space per block face

Pricing strategy based on historical data

Purely "dynamic" Price based on real-time availability - better impact on congestion?

Difficult to communicate for "open system" in an urban environment

Sophisticated data collection, analysis and algorithm

Similarities between fixed time vs. adaptive controllers

Is the additional expense and effort justified by the ability of real-time pricing to affect congestion?

How accurate does occupancy information need to be?

  • One sensor per space; sometimes more
  • Capital + Operating Cost
  • Driven by accuracy and latency needs
  • Different accuracy requirements for dynamic pricing and traveler information?
  • Can we derive occupancy from a sampling of real-time sensors, data-mining and real-time system information
Capture Rate map

Capture Rate Analysis

Capture rate = Max. Revenue/Actual Revenue

Capture rate can be available in real-time with networked assets

Capture rate = f (demand, meter uptime, percentage paid legal)

Getting to Occupancy

Capture Rate = f (system uptime, paid legal, occupancy)

System Uptime Occupancy Paid Legal
Available for networked assets

Use capture rate as surrogate

Sampled detector data

Calibrate using historical data

Analogy - Speed, travel time, congestion on roadways based on sample probe data

How accurate do we need to be?

Real Time Traveler Information

Curbside congestion map

Accuracy requirement higher for real-time traveler information than dynamic pricing algorithm? Branding & Credibility

Asset Lite Solutions - DC Pay by Cell Program

DC Pay by Phone graphs


  • 201,000 customers as of end of January 2012
  • Most successful pay by cell launch globally
  • Vehicles registered in all states have used the system
  • More than half the customers have used the system multiple times


  • 1,300,000 transaction since launch
  • Highest week 70,000; highest day 12,000
  • 67% of transactions initiated through smart phone application
  • Revenue/transactions higher than coin transaction
  • 30% of revenues through PBC program
Map of Pilot Area

Multimodal Dynamic Pricing Pilot

Pilot area exemplifies Multimodal curbside demand and competition.

Pilot will provide real time rates from through street sensors and real time traveler information

Pilot has: 160 block faces 1,600 metered spaces 30 Loading zones 10 Commuter Bus Drop Off and Pick Up Locations

Asset Lite Solutions in DC in Dynamic Pricing Environment

  • For passenger cars
    • Dynamic pricing - move-up the dynamic spectrum
    • As pay by cell penetration rates increase to above 50%, remove meters from one side of the street
  • For tour buses
    • Pay by cell only solution
    • Rate structure based on length of stay
    • Spaces designated by pay by cell zone numbers
  • For freight/trucks
    • Pay by cell only
    • Cost adjusted based on pre-AM rush, AM/PM rush, mid-day, post PM rush
    • Relieve congestion by trying to divert loading/unloading to off-peak
    • Real-time availability information adds value to freight industry by helping plan deliveries better


Seattle Parking logoPart 5: Seattle's Performance-Based Parking Program

SDOT - Seattle Department of Transportation


This presentation will cover:

  • Seattle's on-street parking system
  • Performance-based Parking Program & Policy


Gas Pumps

Seattle's Parking System

Est. on-street spaces citywide 500,000
Paid spaces 13,250
RPZ spaces 18,000
Time-limit spaces 11,500
Meters (single space) 100
Restricted Parking Zones 31 zones
Annual RPZ permits 21,500
Annual parking citations 500,000
Police - Parking Enforcement Officers 109 (FTE)

Seattle Performance-Based Parking Program

  • Citywide covering 13,250 spaces
  • Low-tech data collection
  • Annual management changes
  • Branding development

Paid Parking Rate Policy

  • Establish rates based on measured occupancy so that approximately 1 or 2 open spaces are available on each blockface on average throughout the day
  • Meet target occupancy - "Sweet Spot"
  • Set rates between $1 and $4 / hour

Paid Parking Goals

  • Support neighborhood business districts by making on-street parking available
  • Maintain adequate turnover
  • Encourage parking availability for a variety of parking users
  • Reduce congestion in travel lanes caused by drivers seeking on-street parking

Data Collection

  • Occupancy in all paid parking areas
    • November 2010
    • April 2011
    • June 2011
    • September 2011
    • June and October 2012
  • Typically spend between $125K - $250K on citywide manual parking studies

How We Implement the Policy

  • Set rates, maximum time limits and hours of operation based on data

Target Occupancy "Sweet Spot"

  • Area specific and tied to the average number of spaces on each blockface in that area
    On-Street Parking Example
  • Example: 8 spaces on blockface
    Need to meet target occupancy:
    75% (6 spaces out of 8)
    - 88% (7 spaces out of 8)

Area Peak Occupancy

Use highest three hours of daytime occupancy from parking study

Does not include evening conditions - when occupancy is well over 100% in some areas

Example Area
8 AM - 9 AM 35%
9 AM - 10 PM 45%
10 AM - 11 AM 58%
11 AM - 12 PM 63%
12 PM - 1 PM 72%
1 PM - 2 PM 78%
2 PM - 3 PM 67%
3 PM - 4 PM 73%
4 PM - 5 PM 73%
5 PM - 6 PM 90%
6 PM - 7 PM 106%
7 PM - 8 PM 120%

Making Parking Changes


If Area Peak Occupancy is below Target Occupancy: If Area Peak Occupancy is within Target Occupancy (65% - 90%):

If Area Peak Occupancy is above Target Occupancy:

Look at rate decreases or parking max time changes Keep rate and operating system as is Look at rate increases or parking max time changes

2011 and 2012

  • 2011 Rate Changes
    • 4 area rate increases
    • 11 area rate decreases
    • 7 areas kept at same rate
  • 2012 Changes (implementation underway)
    • 5 areas rate increase (core area)
    • 3 areas rate decrease (edge area)
    • 10 areas with maximum time limit extensions

Example - North Downtown 2012

Example - Map of North Downtown

Effects of 2011 Rate Changes

Rate Increase (4 areas) More availability at peak times
Rate Stayed Same (7 areas) Results mixed, with minor fluctuations
Rate Decrease (11 areas) Most areas saw no dramatic increase in occupancy

Before and After Occupancy Comparison

Area Spaces 2010 Peak Occupancy 2011 Rate Change 2011 Rate 2011 Peak Occupancy Occupancy Changes
Ballard 320 68% $0.50 Decrease $1.50 49% Decrease
Commercial Core 1,650 97% $1.50 Increase $4.00 79% Decrease
Pike-Pine 700 85% Same $2.00 74% Decrease
SLU - 10 hr 1,100 73% Same $1.25 84% Increase
University District 700 64% $0.50 Decrease $1.50 63% Same
Fremont 90 80% Same $1.50 77% Slight decrease

Summary of 2012 Activities

  • Rate and time-limit Implementation
  • Pay by Phone project
    • Citywide installation with RFP to be issued in next month
  • e-Park expansion from 6 to 10-15 facilities

Contact us!

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