This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Seattle is rolling out a new parking information system called E-Park.  The concept is simple enough: standard electronic signs next to each parking lot letting you know how many spots are available.  In theory this is supposed to get us into garages faster, reducing the number of cars on the road.  This is a slightly different tack than San Francisco, which is going to try out demand response parking to reduce congestion.  I pose the following questions to our readers:

  1. Would knowing the number of stalls available in a parking lot get you off the street any faster?
  2. If E-Park does work, would you expect the number of cars in Seattle to increase due to experiencing less congestion (i.e. induced demand)?
  3. If the answer to #2 is “yes”, is encouraging driving ok in this circumstance? Why?

5 Replies to “E-Park”

  1. It seems like people would mainly want to know the price in addition to whether there were open spaces. Hard to tell about the induced demand since it seems to me the choke point is the limited number of “main access roads” (i.e., freeway ramps).

    Also, did you mean your link to go to

    http://www.cityofseattle.net/Transportation/epark/

  2. (thanks Josh, link fixed)

    I would imagine we’d get induced demand anytime driving becomes more convenient. Whether that’s a few minutes less driving or if they’re handing out free cookies for drivers. But I’m having trouble deciding if this system will make any difference at all (hence this post). I can’t ever remember circling for a parking spot because lots have been full (and if so, wouldn’t the “FULL” sign they put out front solve this?) – I’m circling to look for free/cheap street parking. Yes, price would help – but parking lot prices are amazingly complex and I can’t imagine “$5 for first 15 minutes, $12 an hour, $10 early bird special if in by 10am and out by 5pm..” fitting on an electronic sign.

  3. Yeah, not sure I get the point. Unless once you get inside it also directs you to the best open spaces (like the Grove in Los Angeles). Or if it’s full, it directs you to the next nearest parking lot.

    (Is this the first step? Next they adopt variable pricing based on how full the lots are similar to the HOT lanes on the 167?)

    You pick a parking lot because it’s close to where you are going.

    Looking at Joshua’s post, I have to think of in the few rare chance that you have choices in parking, they all price differently to make it difficult to compare. Don’t tell me how many spaces. Tell me if there’s spaces and tell me the cost for specific, consistent time-frames. (Or tell me how big the parking spaces are.)

  4. I bet it’s the first step to something. Maybe it’s as simple as they feel parking lots have been evading taxes and this is a way to monitor the number of cars parked.

  5. I don’t see how this helps nearly as much as the San Francisco project… Do we think cars are driving around and around Downtown because they don’t know where open spaces are?

    The City’s recent study on Capitol Hill showed that parking spaces were going empty in lots, but seemed to lean towards the belief that cars were looking for cheaper on-street parking.

    I think San Francisco begins to target that issue, pricing demand for on-street parking such that it encourages folks to use available spaces in lots.

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