Privatizing Parking

Kit Roane reckons it’ll be a long time before we see any significant infrastructure privatization in New York State:

If Paterson wanted to turn the New York State Thruway over to private operators, he’d first have to pilot a bill through the sclerotic state legislature.

New York would also have to untangle the finances of its infrastructure assets, which often end up supporting a diverse array of unrelated and unprofitable side businesses…

"Right now everything is on the table, and it’s going to take some planning to decide what steps will happen next," admits Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for governor Paterson. That is probably the understatement of the year.

But what about privatizing assets which don’t yet exist — like smart parking meters?

According to a senior municipal bond analyst at a leading Wall Street firm, New York City could raise between five and six billion dollars immediately if it privatized its parking meters as Chicago is doing…

Curbside parking in New York and most U.S. cities is grossly underpriced and could potentially be a crucial source of revenue for much needed transportation improvements…

Chicago will require vendors to use state-of-the-art parking meters that monitor parking space availability and adjust rates to ensure an open space on every block.

This is a very smart idea, I think: reduce congestion and raise revenue at the same time! An enormous proportion of traffic in the most congested parts of New York City is cars driving around in circles looking for a parking spot. If there’s an open space on every block, a huge problem is solved at a stroke. Of course, the price of on-street parking would rise, but only to the level mandated by demand for something which is in sore undersupply.

Incidentally, Roane also says that New York State taxes on bank profits totaled a tiny $173 million in 2007. Who says New York’s corporate tax rates are too high?

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