Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What Do Parking Fees Buy?

In a very funny column about what he would do if he were president of UNC-Wilmington, Mike Adams writes, [link via Newmark's Door]

The university is also stealing your money by charging you $175 for parking every year and not providing you all with a parking space. Currently, there are four students for every parking space. Pardon my language, but that really sucks. Expect to immediately receive a 75% reduction in your parking fees. Next, I will build a parking deck on campus. When I am finished, you will be able to park there for free.
I have two really serious problems with this.
  1. At most universities, the parking fee is not an entitlement or guarantee to a parking space. It is more like a hunting license, giving you the right to hunt for a parking space. I have no problem with this concept, so long as we all know that is what the parking permit buys us, but I would rather use the price mechanism to allocate parking spaces than use the "who-can-get-up-earliest-to-get-to-campus-in-time-to-find-a-parking-space" [aka queuing] mechanism.
  2. "free" parking is a massive waste of scarce resources. The land, the space, the monitoring, etc., all have valuable alternative uses -- opportunity costs.

I hope he retakes an intro economics course before becoming president.

Stephen Ayers of Disinterested Party has this to say about "free parking" in urban areas.

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