Economics pro­fes­sor ex­plains why that’s a good thing

StarMetro Toronto - - NEWS - David hains

Toron­to­ni­ans will pay more to park if pro­pos­als from the Toronto Park­ing Author­ity are ap­proved.

The in­creases to Green P lots and on-street park­ing gen­er­ally range from 15 to 25 per cent, but a hand­ful of in-de­mand lots will see rates jump by up to 50 per cent.

“2016 was an ex­tremely busy year,” said Ian Ma­her, TPA’s vi­cepres­i­dent of strate­gic plan­ning. “It was prob­a­bly the big­gest in­crease in park­ing de­mand we’ve had.”

Ma­her said that’s par­tially due to the pop­u­lar TPA mo­bile app.

The TPA con­ducts an­nual re­views and ad­justs prices ac­cord­ingly. Its stud­ies look at de­mand for park­ing, com­pe­ti­tion at nearby lots, prices in other cities and the last time lo­cal prices were changed.

This year’s pro­posed changes would re­sult in $3.5 mil­lion in ad­di­tional city rev­enue from Green P park­ing lots. The amount of ad­di­tional rev­enue from on­street park­ing will likely be con­tained in a re­port go­ing be­fore the Govern­ment Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee on Sept. 25. Coun­cil will then con­sider the on-street park­ing pro­posal on Oct. 2, but the TPA has the fi­nal say on Green P rates.

All of the hourly Green P lot in­creases are either 25 or 50 cents per hour. The big­gest per­cent­age in­crease sees the hourly rate go from $1 to $1.50 on Broad­view Av­enue north of Queen Street E.

The TPA rec­om­mends its top tier of on-street park­ing in­crease from $4 to $5 per hour, its sec­ond tier in­crease from $3 to $4 and its third tier in­crease from $2.25 to $3. The fourth tier would stay at $2 and the bot­tom two tiers, $1.50 and $1, would be con­sol­i­dated into a $1 tier.

Ma­her ex­plained that chang­ing prices helps the TPA meets its ob­jec­tives. “The prices move the lever on de­mand,” he said.

With Green P lots, the TPA aims to serve driv­ers who need short­term park­ing for up to three or four hours, which is meant to sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses. In­creas­ing prices at some lo­ca­tions should make the lots less at­trac­tive for com­muters, thus in­creas­ing avail­able spa­ces for short-term park­ing.

Harry Kitchen, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus in economics at Trent Univer­sity, agrees with the ap­proach. “I think the whole no­tion of rais­ing park­ing pric­ing is right,” he said.

Peo­ple may grum­ble about it, he ex­plained, but based on his read­ing of the lit­er­a­ture, the best way to han­dle a con­ges­tion prob­lem is to con­trol it through pric­ing. “Let’s face it: there are too many cars in down­town Toronto,” he said.

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