A recent article in Us News and Report, How Free Parking Is Screwing Up Our Cities, New research aims to help lawmakers get to better transportation policy, has triggered a great discussion on the cost of parking at schools. This also led to an interesting twitter conversation that really got me thinking. Essentially, the discourse compared the cost to drive to a college verses the cost to take transit. When compared, the cost was equal for a graduate student.
Parking is not free. Parking costs a lot to construct and maintain. In fact a parking stall costs in our area start at $15,000 to permit and construct. In addition, there are annual property taxes on this parking stall and annual maintenance for this parking. Much of this cost is hidden away and passed onto the consumer, either the student or tax payer.
This type of up-charge is expected when you go to the mall or grocery store. These shops pass on these costs to the consumer by increasing the cost of their products. The question that really got me thinking is what type of services or goods are your not willing to pay for "Free Parking".
This brings me back to the transit verses car costs to get to school. If you can park of your college campus for free, the who is actually paying for this parking? The answer is the student.