Vancouver’s proposed parking meter rates will rise on busy streets

Big changes may be coming to the way metered parking is priced on the streets of Vancouver.

City staff want councillors to approve next week a “data-driven program” that would help set curbside parking rates as high or low as needed to make sure just one or two spaces per metered block are left empty. Some spots could have different day and evening rates under the proposed system.
If the plan is approved, staff would begin by rounding hourly metered parking rates across the city to the nearest whole dollar. That means all $1.50 and $2.50 meters would become $2 and $3 meters.

After that change, blocks that show occupancy rates of higher than 85 per cent will get a rate hike of $1 an hour. Blocks with less than 60 per cent occupancy will see rates fall $1 an hour — apart from any metered blocks already at $1, the city’s lowest rate.

The city is billing its proposal as a way to eliminate “unnecessary searching for on-street parking” that makes streets dangerous and congested and boosts vehicle emissions. But it is also likely to raise cash for the city.

“In some locations, these changes will result in increased revenues, in others the result will be reduced revenue. Overall revenues are expected to increase,” according to a report to councillors, which offered no estimate as to just how big that increase would be. That figure will be included in the city’s 2017 budget process, according to the report.

Parking data would be gathered quarterly, but rate changes would only come annually. If a rate change for a given block prompted a sudden collapse in occupancy, staff would consider rolling it back by request of the local business improvement association.

While staff say other cities like Calgary, Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have similar data-driven parking programs, Vancouver’s solution would be nowhere near as sophisticated as programs tried by the latter two cities.

A recent report by Public Sector Digest paid for by TransLink and the cities of Vancouver and Surrey detailed the smart parking pilot projects in those two California metropolises.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency tested a system that relied on sensors and meters to determine the demand for parking spots and recalculate rates, according to the report, titled An Analysis of Traffic Congestion and Policy Solutions for Canadian Municipalities. Parking rates in the test areas varied by time of day and day of week and would be adjusted by $0.50 per hour down or $0.25 up, no more than once a month. The city also launched a smartphone app that displayed real time parking rates and availability. Los Angeles has a similar pilot program that is set to expand into additional areas of the city, according to the report.

Meanwhile, City of Vancouver staff are also seeking to decrease the discount that is offered to people who pay their parking tickets early from 50 to 40 per cent and increase impoundment storage fees. Those changes, if approved by councillors, would earn the city between $2 million and $2.8 million annually.

Click Here to Read Original Story