The availability and pricing of parking in a downtown area is a delicate balance. While parking is important for a commercial area, too much surface parking can detract from the vibrancy of a downtown. Parking prices are typically set to encourage employees and long-term parkers to utilize lots further from the core in order to make on-street parking spots and higher-demand parking lots available for customers and visitors. One space can generate over $250,000 for a local business on a yearly basis, which is critical to a business’s success.
Begin a discussion with downtown business owners and employees to develop programs and policies that maximize parking for customers and visitors and provide safe and affordable transportation options for employees. The following is a list of programs and policies that should be considered:
- Discounted Peripheral Parking – Evaluate discounted peripheral parking options for employees that provide safe access to and from the parking area.
- Monthly/Yearly Parking Passes – Adjust the price of parking passes such that they are not overly discounted in relationship with hourly rates. If the parking pass price is too low, downtown employees will take up the majority of downtown parking spaces, leaving fewer spaces for customers.
- Complimentary Emergency Ride Home – As part of a commute to work program, provide complimentary emergency rides home, allowing walkers, bikers, carpoolers and transit riders to have a backup plan to take a taxi home in the event of an emergency.
- Free Bus Pass – As part of a commute to work program, provide free bus passes to downtown employees.
- Enclosed and Secure Bicycle Parking – Provide enclosed and secure rooms or fenced off-areas, generally in parking garages, where employees can park their bikes for extended periods of time.
- Permit Parking on Residential Streets near the Downtown – Develop a policy to provide permit parking for residents on streets near the downtown where the majority of houses do not have driveways.
For more examples, check out Ann Arbor’s GetDowntown Program which provides commuting programs and services to employees and employers in downtown Ann Arbor.