Seattle Street Parking Pricing gets a Little Smarter

Seattle’s “Performance-Based Parking Pricing” is a simple version of demand-responsive pricing for on-street parking. It has largish price zones and prices get adjusted only once a year.

This Seattle simplicity contrasts with San Francisco’s SFPark with its frequent data-driven adjustments to prices that vary block-by-block.

But is simple good enough? Is Seattle’s version too basic?

Alan Durning of Sightline Institute complained last year that Seattle has been “slow to offer matinee parking rates, even though morning occupancy rates are low.”  (See below for more from Alan on this simplicity issue.)

So I was interested to see time-of-day pricing in the latest price-revision announcement by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

There will be a special morning price in only for two pricing zones this time around. In October, on-street parking rates in Pioneer Square Core and Pioneer Square Periphery will decrease for the morning pricing period (8-11am) but increase in the afternoon period (11am- 6pm). These changes are based on the low morning occupancies and high afternoon occupancies in these areas.

Compare Seattle’s parking rate periods (8-11am; 11am-5pm; 5-8pm) with SFPark’s (‘open’=9am to noon; noon-3pm; 3pm to ‘close’=6pm).

Curiously, this time-of-day thing was buried in the details of the announcement and not mentioned in the the SDOT Blog post.

Maybe time-of-day rates are not big news because there is already a precedent actually. There has been a special evening price in Chinatown since early 2013. You can see it on the price map below.

By the way, Chinatown’s evening pricing is a story in itself – scroll down for more on that*.