There’s no such thing as a free lunch – and no such thing as free parking, according to an influential author speaking in Austin today.
The Urban Transportation Commission and City Council Member Chris Riley are hosting a conversation this evening with Donald Shoup. Shoup’s 2005 book, The High Cost of Free Parking, argues that on-street parking is a valuable commodity in cities, and should be priced accordingly to cut down on traffic congestion and pollution.
KUT News spoke with Shoup this morning. He noted the University of Texas campus was a perfect example of some of the arguments he’s made.
“At a university, you can see what an urban area can look like if people pay for parking," he says. "I understand it’s $18 a day to pay for parking on campus. Well, why is it so expensive? Because that’s what it costs to provide it. When you go in the rest of Austin, it’s always almost free. It’s usually free. Well if the driver doesn’t pay for parking, who does? Well, everybody pays for parking, including people who are too poor to own a car. And there has to be awful lot of parking to satisfy the demand for people who pay nothing.”
Shoup’s appearance comes as the city embarks on a wayfinding initiative to improve downtown mobility. He’s speaking at a public meeting tonight at St. David’s Epsicopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street, at 5 p.m. – just in time for rush hour traffic.