New Study Shows City Can Reduce Congestion Through Parking Policy

parallel.jpgA study released today by Transportation Alternatives puts the congestion and waste caused by cheap metered parking in stark terms. The report, "Driven to Excess" [PDF], quantifies just how far Upper West Side drivers go in search of open spots: 366,000 miles a year, or about the distance from Earth to the moon.

The Post picked up the story this morning, making the connection between parking rates and traffic congestion:

"There are literally tens of millions of unnecessary miles driven in New York City every year because we've made such a mess of metered parking," said Paul Steeley [sic] White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

The major reason, of course, is that street parking in the area is comparatively a bargain - $1.50 an hour compared to $10 to $15 in private garages.

The organization recommended that the city impose graduated parking rates as it has done in Midtown commercial districts, where truckers pay $2 for the first hour, $5 for the second and $9 for the third.

With Albany showing little inclination to help New York City address its congestion problem, the study bolsters the argument that parking policy, which rests in the city's hands, is the most effective way forward to rein in traffic.

"We hope it gives a shot in the arm to the DOT," said T.A.'s Wiley Norvell. "Given what we have to work with, parking is really the primary tool at their disposal to take on congestion. This says pretty clearly that we can manage parking better."

According to Norvell, the study results are consistent with what T.A. has heard from local businesses about -- to borrow a phase -- the high cost of cheap parking. T.A. plans to rally support for parking reform from business improvement districts, he added.

Photo: Felix Bryant/New York Post