Who Pays For Parking? - TransitCenter

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Who Pays For Parking? How Federal Tax Subsidies Jam More Cars into Congested Cities, and How Cities Can Reclaim Their Streets

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TransitCenter Board of Trustees Rosemary Scanlon, Chair Eric S. Lee Darryl Young Emily Youssouf Jennifer Dill Clare Newman Christof Spieler

Who Pays For Parking? How Federal Tax Subsidies Jam More Cars into Congested Cities, and How Cities Can Reclaim Their Streets

TransitCenter + Frontier Group Written by: Tony Dutzik, Elizabeth Berg, Alana Miller, and Rachel Cross, Frontier Group Publish Date: September 2017

Acknowledgments The authors thank Steven Higashide and David Bragdon of TransitCenter for their support and editorial assistance, as well as Josh Fairchild of TransitMatters, Andrea Hamre, doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech University, Chris McCahill of the State Smart Transportation Initiative, and others who provided editorial support or review. The authors thank Garrett Hincken and Casandra Domínguez of the Center City District in Philadelphia for sharing data on commercial downtowns presented in the 2013 report Downtown Rebirth as well as public officials in New York, Washington, DC, and the Bay Area for agreeing to discuss with us their experiences with commuter benefits ordinances. We also thank Kate Williamson and Gideon Weissman for their editorial support. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of those who provided editorial review. Any factual errors are strictly the responsibility of the authors.



Contents Acknowledgments 5 Introduction 8 Executive Summary 11 The Trouble with Commuter Benefits 20 How the Commuter Parking Benefit Fails 22 The Commuter Transit Benefit Doesn’t Fix the Damage 25 The Commuter Parking Benefit Harms Cities 28 Parking Subsidies by City 29 Impacts of the Commuter Parking Benefit 36 Limiting the Damage from Commuter Parking Benefits: Three Things Cities Can Do Now 38 Expand Access to Transit Benefits 40 Tax Parking and Invest in Better Transportation 47 Enlist the Private Sector in Expanding Transportation Options 49 Reforming Commuter Benefits: Three Things the Federal Government Can Do in the Long Run 54 Step 1: Give Commuter Benefit Programs a Clear Purpose 56 Step 2: Reform Commuter Benefits to Reflect That Purpose 58 Step 3: Collect Data and Support Local Innovation 68 Conclusion 70 Methodology 71 References 76


Introduction Imagine the creation of a new government program in which federal authorities send you a check at the end of the year to reward you for driving to work alone. But there are a few catches. First, you only get the check if you work in a city—and you get a bigger check if you work downtown. Second, the size of your check depends on how much money you make. If you are a stockbroker or CEO, your check might be twice as big as that of the receptionist or salesperson working down the hall. Such a program, it is safe to say, would be unlikely to get very far. Transportat