CityLab: 5 Parking Innovations Every City Should Adopt

Parking SignWhen it comes to parking, Downtown Jacksonville has a lot going for it. Yes, really.

With more than 43,000 parking spaces, Colliers International’s 2012 CBD Parking Rate Survey rates parking availability in Downtown Jacksonville as “abundant,” with parking garages consistently less than 60% full on weekdays.

After 6 p.m. and on weekends, all metered parking spaces are free, and during weekdays, many meters in the core accept credit cards.

Downtown employees and visitors enjoy parking rates 45% lower than the national average. provides rates and locations of Downtown garages and lots, plus and this handy-dandy parking FAQ.

But can we get better? Absolutely. Enter CityLab’s article, “5 Parking Innovations Every City Should Adopt.” Here’s an excerpt of the first innovation from Pittsburgh:

No one knows more about parking than UCLA’s Donald Shoup, the so-called “prophet of parking” and author of the 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking. Shoup’s insights have led to a greater appreciation for the benefits of charging a market rate for parking—namely, less time spent searching for a spot, and thus less traffic congestion. In a new piece for ACCESS magazine, adapted from a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Shoup points to several parking innovations that every city should consider adopting.

Pay-By-Plate Technology

Many if not most big cities have done away with individual parking meters, replacing them with kiosks that accept credit cards. Shoup suggests taking the additional step of making license plate numbers part of the parking-kiosk transaction.

Pittsburgh began citywide implementation of pay-by-plate meters in 2012. Drivers punch in their plate numbers at the kiosks, then pay by credit card or cash, then go on their way—no need to go back to the car and display a receipt in the dash. Better still, drivers can re-park within the same zone without re-doing the whole transaction. Enforcement officials have an easier time, too; they simply scan a plate, see if it’s paid, and move on or print a ticket.

The system led to a reported increase in parking revenue for Pittsburgh, even as it led to a big decline in the number of tickets being issued. That might sound contradictory, but it actually makes sense. As pay-by-plate technology made it easier to pay—especially when combined with smartphone payment apps—more people actually paid for parking rather than risk a ticket (which might never be issued or paid anyway).

Shoup also points out that pay-by-plate kiosks make it easier for cities to customize parking discounts for some drivers or surcharges for others.

Read the full article here.