It always seems that parking is easy to find when you don't need it, and it turns out that there might be a reason for that. New studies conducted by the University of Connecticut have found that the US might actually have too many spaces, especially in cities where they are needed least.
The studies looked at available parking and their economic and social impact in six cities from 1960 to 2000 – Arlington, VA; Berkeley, CA; Cambridge, MA; Hartford, CT; Lowell, MA and New Haven, CT. For example according to Bloomberg Businessweek, over that time, Cambridge increased its parking by 39 percent and boosted its building area by 46 percent. However, Hartford added 158 percent more spaces and just 27 percent more buildings. The result is that the people in Cambridge pay more to leave their cars because there is relatively less parking available.
While people might be paying more in some places for parking, cities often profit from fewer spaces. In fact, the studies found that a single space might cost a city over $1,000 a year in lost revenue. Motorists might find ample lots convenient, but most cities receive a vast majority of their tax income from buildings. Parking, by comparison, brings in relatively little money. Investigations also found that cities which force developers to incorporate a minimum number of new parking spaces with their new projects are making traffic worse, because they are bringing in more cars instead of incentivizing other forms of transport.
These results suggest that if cities want to increase revenue, their leaders need to put a plan in place that actually reduces parking. Of course, a portion of that money must be spent on public transport and other automotive alternatives, otherwise no one will be able to get around.