Parking Costs


    • Pedestrian and cycling facility improvements allow more students and employees to walk and bicycle rather than drive to schools, universities and other worksites, reducing automobile parking facility costs to businesses and governments, but requires some additional investment in bicycle parking.

    • Transit-oriented development allows some households to reduce their vehicle ownership, providing residential cost savings.

    • Public transit service improvements cause some commuters to shift from driving to transit, reducing city center parking problems.

    • An HOV lane and commute trip reduction programs encourage more employees to rideshare, reducing employer parking costs.


Vehicles require parking at each destination. These facilities are an essential component of the roadway system and a major cost to governments, businesses and households. Parking costs include parking facility land, construction and operating costs, plus indirect costs such as increased stormwater management costs. There are various types of parking facilities:

· On-street parking consists of parking lanes provided within public road rights-of-way.

· Off-street parking are parking facilities on their own land, not on road rights-of-way.

· Surface parking refers to parking lots directly on land.

· Structured parking (also called parkades or ramps) are parking facilities in or under multi-story buildings.

These costs are large. A typical parking facility has an annualized value of $500 to $1,500, and even more for structured and underground parking facilities, as illustrated in the table below. There are estimated to be at least three off-street parking spaces per vehicle (one residential and two non-residential), plus various on-street spaces (Chester, Horvath and Madanat 2010; Litman 2004; Marshall and Garrick 2006). As a result, most vehicles are worth less than the total value of the parking spaces they occupy.

Typical Parking Facility Financial Costs (Parking Spreadsheet)

This table illustrates typical parking facility costs, based on the "Parking Cost, Pricing and Revenue Calculator" (

Most parking facility costs are borne indirectly, through mortgages and rents (for most off-street parking provided as part of building developments), or general taxes (for on-street parking on local roads).

Transportation project economic evaluation generally ignores parking costs altogether, or only considers the relatively small portion of these costs paid directly by motorists. This is based on an assumption that parking facility costs are sunk, so marginal changes in vehicle travel have minimal impact on parking costs. However, reducing parking demand usually can provide savings and benefits, by avoiding the need to add parking to accommodate growth, by allowing parking facilities to be leased or rented for other users, or the land can be converted to other uses such as buildings or greenspace, or sold. Opportunity costs are particularly large in growing urban areas where parking demand and land prices are high and increasing, and in areas with high environmental values where reducing pavement provides substantial benefits.

Applying Parking Costs

In general, transportation projects that reduce vehicle ownership provide residential parking cost savings. Projects that reduce vehicle trips provide parking cost savings at destinations, including parking congestion problems (delays to other motorists in finding a parking space), the costs to governments of providing on-street parking (for example, allowing some curb lanes to be used for vehicle traffic, bicycle lanes, bus lanes or wider sidewalks, instead of vehicle parking), and the costs to businesses and developers of providing off-street parking. In the short-run, reduced parking demand may provide minimal savings, if parking spaces are simply left unoccupied, but over the longer run, reduced parking demand generally provides savings by avoiding the need to increase supply in response to growth, or by allowing existing parking facilities to be converted to other uses.

Information Resources

Paul Barter (2010) Parking Policy in Asian Cities, Asian Development Bank (

Mikhail Chester, Arpad Horvath and Samer Madanat (2010), “Parking Infrastructure: Energy, Emissions, And Automobile Life-Cycle Environmental Accounting,” Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 5, No. 3; at; project of the UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport (

Colliers (2009), Parking Rates: Global CBD Parking Rate Survey, Colliers International (; at$File/globalcolliersparkingratesurvey2009.pdf.

CORDIS (2001), Parking Policy Measures and their Effects on Mobility and the Economy, COST 342, CORDIS (; at

Luke H. Klipp (2004), The Real Costs Of San Francisco’s Off-Street Residential Parking Requirements: An Analysis Of Parking’s Impact On Housing Finance Ability And Affordability, Transportation for a Livable City (; at

Richard J. Kuzmyak, Rachel Weinberger and Richard H. Pratt (2003), Parking Management and Supply: Traveler Response to Transport System Changes, Chapter 18, Report 95, Transit Cooperative Research Program; Transportation Research Board (

Todd Litman (2004), Transportation Land Valuation; Evaluating Policies and Practices that Affect the Amount of Land Devoted to Transportation Facilities, VTPI (

Todd Litman (2005), Evaluating Transportation Land Use Impacts, VTPI (, at

Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management Best Practices, Planners Press (

Todd Litman (2008), Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation and Planning, VTPI ( Available at

Todd Litman (2009), "Parking Costs," Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis: Techniques, Estimates and Implications, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at

Michael Manville and Donald Shoup (2005), “People, Parking, and Cities,” Journal Of Urban Planning And Development, American Society of Civil Engineers (, December, pp. 233-245; at,Parking,CitiesJUPD.pdf.

Wesley E. Marshall and Norman W. Garrick (2006), “Parking at Mixed-Use Centers in Small Cities,” Transportation Research Record 1977, Transportation Research Board (;; also see, 'Place First' Parking Plans (

Vinit Mukhija and Donald Shoup (2006), “Quantity Versus Quality in Off-Street Parking Requirements,” Journal of American Planning Association (, Vol. 72, No. 3, Summer, pp. 296-308. Available at:

NPA (2009), Parking In America, The National Parking Association’s First Annual Review of Parking Rates in the United States and Canada, National Parking Association (; at

PT (2000), “Determining the Cost of an Above-Grade Parking Structure,” Parking Today (, May 2000, pp. 27-28.

Tom Rye (2010), Parking Management: A Contribution Towards Livable Cities, Module 2C, Sustainable Transportation: A Sourcebook for Policy-Makers in Developing Countries, Sustainable Urban Transport Project – Asia (; at link

Yash Saxena (2011), Parking Costs, Pricing and Revenue Calculator - Developing Country Edition, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at

Donald Shoup (1997), “The High Cost of Free Parking,” Access 10 (, Spring 1997.

Donald Shoup (2005), The High Cost of Free Parking, Planners Press ( This comprehensive and entertaining book investigates the causes, costs and solutions of free parking.

UTTIPEC (2010), Parking Policy as a Travel Demand Management Strategy, Delhi Development Authority (; at

VTPI (2006), Parking Cost, Pricing and Revenue Calculator (, by Todd Litman, and the Parking Costs, Pricing and Revenue Calculator - Developing Country Edition (, by Yash Saxena. These spreadsheets can be used to calculate parking facility costs, cost recovery pricing, and revenue generation. The spreadsheets include default values which users can adjust inputs to represent various conditions and assumptions.

Clarence Woudsma, Todd Litman, and Glen Weisbrod (2006), A Report On The Estimation Of Unit Values Of Land Occupied By Transportation Infrastructures In Canada, Transport Canada ( Available at: