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Felix Salmon on Variable Pricing

+ Brandon Fuller

Why is it that the Yankees can’t manage to fill a stadium while Broadway shows are consistently at capacity?  As Felix Salmon explains in the latest Felix TV segment, it comes down to Broadway’s embrace of variable pricing.

In a blog post, Felix makes the case that New York City should bring the variable pricing model to on-street parking as well.

San Francisco recently introduced variable pricing for on-street parking, and it’s an idea which ought to have been implemented in New York years ago. The basic idea is incredibly simple: you just price parking meters so that there’s always one empty parking spot on every block. The effect is electric, for two reasons. Firstly, drivers no longer have to pad their journeys by some unknowable amount of time to account for the time spent looking for a spot. And secondly, the whole city speeds up, since a huge proportion of congestion is caused by cars driving around in circles, looking for one of those precious spots.”

NYC would not be the first city to adopt the San Francisco parking model. SF Park recently won the Living Labs Global Award for Santiago, Chile.

A city of 6.7 million inhabitants, Santiago has a resource-intensive approach to urban parking that requires a parking attendant for each city block to manually process transactions, causing delays with significant environmental and usability impacts…The SFpark model can help Santiago de Chile better manage demand for its existing parking supply…

In effect, San Francisco is exporting its successful service innovation to Santiago, Chile — a city that used Living Labs Global to conduct a competitive search for the best solution. In a rapidly urbanizing world, the market for such solutions will only grow, creating opportunities for mutually beneficial exchange between cities. Though New York City seems like a natural leader in this market, it’s got some catching up to do when it comes to managing traffic congestion.

Tile image by Matt Hintsa.

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