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Free holiday parking FAIL

This report from Channel 10 is from before Christmas, but it is worth taking a look at.

What do you think the city’s holiday parking policy should be, should there even be a holiday parking policy?

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4 Responses to Free holiday parking FAIL

  1. Andrew January 5, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I think the circle of “Customers with cash to spend” better overlaps the circle of “People who are willing to pay a buck or two for the right parking space at the right time” than the circle of “People who will just keep driving if they can not park for free.”

    The limited number of curbside spaces can only benefit merchants if each is used by many different people through the day. If you insist that free downtown parking is a customer magnet you could offer half an hour free, but to have it do any good it would have to be strictly enforced. Muni-meters are a better way to establish and enforce time limits than signs and roving time checkers. Even when there is a free special going on, you should still have to get a receipt from the machine so it can tell you when your time will be up.

    Thank you channel 10 for not indulging the usual free parking magical thinking. Convenient, dependably available parking at a price the market will bear will always be better for downtown merchants than free parking that you need a super rabbit’s foot to find.

    I always thought the free holiday parking business was more benevolent politician theater than meaningful or helpful policy.

  2. Jim January 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I don’t see the point of free parking. As Andrew stated, it’s very obviously an invitation to park and leave your car there for the whole day, while merchants benefit from turnover. What does it cost to park at a meter? $1/hr? People shopping at the stores downtown can most definitely afford that small price to pay.

    I wish they would switch all metered spots to those muni-meters with the receipts. They just make more sense and you can pay with a debit card or dollar bills rather than have to carry change.

    The city needs money and one way of making money is through the parking meters. It’s not a huge tax on people going downtown to pay $1-2 to park, but it adds up for the city.

    The free parking thing is just Cicilline trying to make himself look good and win re-election this year.

  3. Jef Nickerson January 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    With the Muni Meters a “city card” can be created like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card. The Octopus is used as a transit card but also for street parking, convenience store purchases, and other things. Basically everyone in Hong Kong has one of these cards and uses them to pay for everything.

    If people had a card in their pocket that paid for parking and could also be used on buses, it allows them to become transit converts. It obviates the “if only I had a fare card, I’d hop on that bus” issue. Sneak transit into people’s pockets through parking.

    At the holidays, the city can simply reduce the charge on the muni meters, or if we had a smart card, merchants could, if they chose, offer a recharge with purchase. If you made enough purchases at different merchants you could actually end up getting paid to park.

  4. jencoleslaw January 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    I don’t remember it being all day parking before, though. It was still only free for, like, two hours. If you were at a metered spot for more than whatever the free hour part was, you got a ticket.

    I worked downtown through several holiday seasons and I wasn’t able to take advantage of the parking/shopping deal, so I’m not sure when/how/why that changed…?

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