Seattle drivers who've been accustomed to paying the same curbside parking rates at all times of day could soon be faced with variable parking prices based on market factors, with rates higher at busier times. The Seattle Times reports city officials hope variable fees will mean quicker turnover of scarce parking spaces and reduce congestion caused by people who circle blocks looking for an opening. Market-based parking rates are already in place in several U. S. cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D. C.
"It helps reduce the traffic congestion, of people finding a spot", said Mary Catherine Snyder, a parking strategist for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
The Seattle Department of Transportation will publish data from its study on parking trends in mid-January, then take several weeks to to reprogram meters to reflect new neighborhood-level rates. Parking meter rates in Seattle will increase this spring to as high as $4. Included in the City Council's budget is a proposal to require paid parking to a later hour, from the current 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
By 2012, the city would be able to customize rates block by block and alter parking rates by time of day.