Could Auctions Solve Urban Parking Woes?
from the free-parking dept
Complaints about the difficulty of finding parking are pretty common in many cities, and it should be obvious that the existing system is fairly inefficient. As an economist would see it, it’s far better to have people pay for parking with money (which goes to someone else) than to pay for parking with time spent circling around the block, which benefits nobody. A new startup is hoping to tackle this inefficiency by introducing an auction system, whereby drivers can bid on available spots in real time, using their mobile phones. Initially, the system will be limited to parking spots in private garages and driveways whose owner may not be occupying them. Eventually, the company will also offer street side parking as well, although it’s not clear how that will work. Unfortunately, it’s this latter area that really needs a solution, since finding spots in expensive parking garages usually isn’t the hard part. This is not a bad area for a company to pursue, since it’s certainly an area that it needs work, but there a few problems. First, an auction process consumes time, which is the one thing that you’re hoping to save. Secondly, the company will have to build up a sizable critical mass for it to be useful, something that’s going to be very difficult to attain. Most importantly, the underlying problem is often the result of bad urban planning, meaning that there can’t be much of a solution until more fundamental issues are resolved. In the meantime, there are a number of existing services that tell drivers where there are open spots, which will probably prove more useful to most people.