Dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing

It has been studied, applied, reviewed and critiqued – but what is it exactly and why would councils consider using it?

Dynamic pricing is the adjustment of on-street parking rates dependent on demand and supply. Installation of parking sensors in cities track the occupancy of each block face (the portion of a street between two other streets) and prices are set dependent upon occupancy targets allocated to that time period.

The timetable is agreed in advance and local motorists are aware of the difference in costs for peak time parking and off-peak parking.

This type of pricing application encourages a larger turnover of parking spaces, allowing more motorists the opportunity to park, for shorter periods, in busy town centres and city down town areas. It also ensures that there is a better utilisation of space in crowded areas.

During the time periods when prices increase, some drivers are encouraged to use alternative modes of transport, removing car journeys from peak times and therefore contributing to a reduction in general traffic congestion. As well as this, drivers are encouraged to approach their parking behaviours in a more flexible manner, again, ensuring better utilisation of all the parking spaces that are available.

This in turn also lowers the rate of “cruising” for curbside parking – which means less congestion, fewer CO2 emissions and a more positive parking experience. A parking space quickly located means a happy driver, a happy consumer, a happy retailer and so on…

Cities and towns also see an increase in revenue. A well-structured timetable and a sensible occupancy rates see the increases and decreases in price offset against each other due to a good flow of supply and demand for parking spaces.

There have been many studies carried out regarding dynamic pricing, the most notable being SFpark in 2011. And there are more that continue to do so. Since the original suggestion to implement dynamic pricing in 1954 by Nobel Prize winner William Vickrey we have seen quite a development in the approach to how on-street municipal parking can be monitored, adjusted and improved. Using integrated systems, sensors and databases, councils can make decisions about timetabling and occupancy rates based on weather conditions, events, holiday periods and changes in local business activities.

Dynamic pricing appears to be a great way to manage the organic nature of parking requirements of our towns and cities – what’s your opinion?