In Los Angeles, demand-based pricing for curbside parking goes live

Demand-based pricing for curbside parking spots goes live in Los Angeles. Will it help or hurt congestion?

There's a good chance you didn't know that Xerox -- yes, the office printer people -- are also responsible for developing transportation infrastructure.

Perhaps it will make a bit more sense, then, to hear that the company's LA ExpressPark system -- a demand-based pricing system fueled by technology and deployed in partnership with the city's department of transportation, LADOT -- is now officially live, after first being announced last October.

The one-year pilot program intends to relieve traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and improve city transit operations by adjusting the price of a parking spot based on driver demand for spaces and availability.

In other words, add a dash of economic impact to the basic law of supply and demand.

The idea: by increasing rates on high-demand spots (and lowering them in low-demand areas) there is the potential for more parking spaces to become available on each block, reducing the congestion and pollution generated by drivers hunting for curbside parking.

When parking spaces become too expensive, carpooling, bicycling and public transportation -- oh yeah, that! -- become more attractive alternatives.

The one-year pilot is funded by a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and could total $29 million if two option years are added.

The project includes the installation of:

  • Real-time parking guidance systems, which display information about open spaces via street-side signs and mobile apps directing drivers to available spaces;
  • The sensors themselves, embedded in about 6,000 on-street parking spaces in the downtown area to track occupancy;
  • New parking meters and multi-space pay stations, which will accept credit cards, coins and payments made by phone;
  • The back-end parking management system, called ACS Merge, which processes all parking-related transactions and provides real-time parking data analytics to LADOT and drivers.

Now that the system is in place, the rest of the country will be watching as Los Angeles, known for its car-first attitude, deals with this new dynamic.

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