Pay parking is good

Or so claims Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolution.  He writes an economics column for the New York Times. In a recent post, he discussed free parking and who actually pays for it…everyone but the motorist.

If most parking were pay parking, people would think more carefully about where they were going.  This is true for me, at least.  If I am going into downtown Busan, I much prefer public transit.

Indeed, this is an area where Busan, and Korea in general, might be said to be ahead of the US.  Or at least be seen as a location where the experiment is being carried out.

And the results are … mixed to negative.  Well, one thing that is required with pay parking is an functioning and active police presence.  In Korea, if you can’t find a parking space and will only take, oh, say, twenty minutes, most drivers opt to park in the bus lane or otherwise in the rightmost lane.  Hey, it’s free!  There are tow trucks to collect damaged cars but none to seize illegally parked cars to free up driving space.

I try to restrict my driving -and I’m not doing as well as I would like – and I usually use pay parking when I do drive.

I think increasing the percentage of pay parking spaces is wise but it is ineffective on it’s own.


Oh, if you are going into downtown Busan, the Busan English Library near Buam Subway Station has a great free parking area.  I don’t know if they want you to use it, but it is usually empty.  Check out a book and you’re fine.


To see videos of bad driving in Korea, visit Repatriate Me. I think everyone who drives will be familiar with the driving they see there.



I see Marginal Revolution can’t let the subject go.  There are two new posts on the subject: 1, 2.


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2 Responses to “Pay parking is good”

  1. Aaron McKenzie Says:

    My wife and I actually sold our car last year because we live in Central Seoul and seldom drove it. Why? Traffic was one reason, of course, but parking was a far bigger problem. Adios, car.

    I seem to recall that some US cities have privatized their parking meter systems. The city simply outsources the function of monitoring, ticketing, and towing. This would seem to lessen the need for – and expense of – an expanded police presence.

    The whole idea of “free” parking is a strange one when you think about it. No one expects to get a “free” hotel room, or a “free” storage unit. When you use someone else’s space, you generally have to pay for it. Why should it be any different for street parking?

  2. surprisesaplenty Says:

    If people don’t trust the police, I can’t see private organizations doing better.

    You would have had a good point about how strange the idea of free parking is ten years ago. We now live in the internet age, where so much is available free online – like this blog, for instance. Following this logic, free parking was ahead of it’s time!

    I admire you for getting rid of your car although I won’t soon be following your example. I will continue to -reluctantly- drive to and from work as the alternate would be three different buses and a near-doubling of commute time.

    Thanks for commenting.

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