Op-ed: Making parking more accessible and affordable will speed NYC’s recovery

This article was originally published by Crain’s New York Business on 7/21/2022


Here’s what’s needed to get day-trippers from the tristate area to return to the city

New York City’s beleaguered tourism industry—one of the key drivers of the Big Apple’s economy—is making a comeback faster than expected. According to estimates recently released by NYC & Company, which studies tourism, the city can expect 56 million out-of-towners this year—nearly a full recovery. More than 66 million people visited the city in 2019

It’s a glimmer of hope for all the industries whose survival depends on the trickle-down effects of visitors’ dollars—including restaurants, theaters and hotels, as well as the city’s world-class retailers and beloved small businesses.

Experts contend that the roughly 10 million missing visitors are mostly day-trippers from thetristate area. To get them back, New York must make public parking more accessible and affordable.

Although public transit once played a leading role in getting people in, out of and around the city, during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, straphangers avoided trains and buses in droves, citing understandable concerns about the coronavirus. And since then, public-safety concerns have risen. As a result, more and more people are relying on single-occupancy vehicles.

Car ownership has skyrocketed, congestion and gridlock have reached all-time highs and parking at times is costly and difficult to find.
There are a few things we can prioritize to unlock more accessible and affordable parking.

  • Shared car services and van pools. If more people opt for ride-share services instead of single-occupancy vehicles, it would decrease the number of cars on the road. As a result, fewer drivers would be searching for parking, freeing up available spots throughout the city. In addition, shared car services and van pools could prove more affordable for consumers.
  • A citywide space-availability information system. A main frustration for drivers is locating an available space quickly. Currently drivers search manually for an open space. It can result in circling a block repeatedly—which increases travel time and adds to congestion. By implementing an efficient citywide system that catalogs available spaces in real time, New York could help drivers locate parking, decrease drive times and reduce the number of vehicles clogging streets.
  • Dynamic pricing. To ease parking accessibility for people coming into the city, the Department of Consumer Affairs should consider allowing for a citywide shift to dynamic pricing at garages and with street parking. Instead of the current static pricing, with its cumbersome 60-day posting requirement, dynamic pricing would shift based on the time of day and the demand trends of those time periods. During peak traffic times, for example, higher prices would thin parking demand, making spaces more accessible. Conversely, lowering prices during less demanding hours would allow for more affordable parking for tourists and residents.

Virtually every sector of the economy has been upended by the pandemic. In response, the transportation, parking and mobility industries must adapt to shifting consumer trends to remain viable and make New York more accessible for visitors.

Kristen Sokich is Propark Mobility’s executive vice president for the New York–New Jersey area.

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