Post University Microeconomics Invisible Hand Can Park Your Car Discussion

Post University

Question Description

I’m stuck on a Economics question and need an explanation.

Read and consider the text In The News excerpt in section 7.3: "The Invisible Hand Can Park Your Car”.


  • the law of supply and demand and price effects on producer surplus relate to the trial policy described in the article.
  • how the principles of economics can be seen at work in the article.
  • The role that technology and data play in the policy

The Invisible Hand Can Park Your Car IN THE NEWS In many cities, finding an available parking spot on the street seems about as likely as winning the lottery. But iflocal governments relied more on the price system, they might be able to achieve a more efficient allocation of this scarce resource. A Meter So Expensive, It Creates Parking Spots By Michael Cooper and Jo Craven McGinty S AN FRANCISCO—The maddening quest for street parking is not just a tribulation for drivers, but a trial for cities. As much as a third of the traffic in some areas has been attributed to drivers circling as they hunt for spaces. The wearying tradition takes a toll in lost time, polluted air and, when drivers despair, double-parked cars that clog traffic even more. But San Francisco is trying to shorten the hunt with an ambitious experiment that aims to make sure that there is always at least one empty parking spot available on every block that has meters. The program, which uses new technology and the law of supply and demand, raises the price of parking on the city’s most crowded blocks and lowers it on its emptiest blocks. While the new prices are still being phased in—the most expensive spots have risen to $4.50 an hour, but could reach $6—preliminary data suggests that the change may be having a positive effect in some areas. Change can already be seen on a stretch of Drumm Street downtown near the Embar-cadero and the popular restaurants at the Ferry Building. Last summer it was nearly impossible to find spots there. But after the city gradually raised the price of parking to $4.50 an hour from $3.50, high-tech sensors embedded in the street showed that spots were available a little more often—leaving a welcome space the other day for the silver Toyota Corolla driven by Victor Chew, a sales-man for a commercial dishwasher company who frequently parks in the area. “There are more spots available now,” said Mr. Chew, 48. “Now I don’t have to walk half a mile.” San Francisco’s parking experiment is the latest major attempt to improve the uneasy relationship between cities and the internal combustion engine—a century-long saga that has seen cities build highways and tear them down, widen streets and narrow them, and make more parking available at some times and discourage it at others, all to try to make their downtowns accessible but not too congested. The program here is being closely watched by cities around the country. With the help of a federal grant, San Francisco installed parking sensors and new meters at roughly a quarter of its 26,800 metered spots to track when and where cars are parked. And beginning last summer, the city began tweaking its prices every two months—giving it the option of raising them 25 cents an hour, or lowering them by as much as 50 cents—in the hope of leaving each block with at least one available spot. The city also has cut prices at many of the garages and parking lots it manages, to lure cars off the street.... The program is the biggest test yet of the theories of Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. His 2005 book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” made him something of a cult figure to city planners—a Facebook group, The Shoupistas, has more than a thousand mem-bers. “I think the basic idea is that we will see a lot of benefits if we get the price of curbside parking right, which is the lowest price a city can charge and still have one or two vacant spaces available on every block,” he said. But raising prices is rarely popular. A chapter in Mr. Shoup’s book opens with a quote from George Costanza, the “Seinfeld” char-acter: “My father didn’t pay for parking, my mother, my brother, nobody. It’s like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay when, if I apply Source: New York Times, March 15, 2012. myself, maybe I can get it for free?” Some San Francisco neighborhoods recently objected to a proposal to install meters on streets where parking is now free. And raising prices in the most desirable areas raises concerns that it will make them less accessible to the poor. That was on the minds of some parkers on Drumm Street, where the midday occupancy rate on one block fell to 86 percent from 98 percent after prices rose. Edward Saldate, 55, a hairstyl-ist who paid nearly $17 for close to four hours of parking there, called it “a big rip-off.” Tom Randlett, 69, an accountant, said that he was pleased to be able to find a spot there for the first time, but acknowledged that the program was “complicated on the social equity level.” Officials note that parking rates are cut as often as they are raised. And Professor Shoup said that the program would benefit many poor people, including the many San Franciscans who do not have cars, because all parking revenues are used for mass tran-sit and any reduction in traffic will speed the buses many people here rely on. And he imagined a day when drivers will no lon-ger attribute good parking spots to luck or karma. The new San Francisco electronic parking meter helps equilibrate supply and demand. “It will be taken for granted,” he said, “the way you take it for granted that when you go to a store you can get fresh bananas or apples.”

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Final Answer


Running head: PARKING CARS


Parking Cars
Student’s Name
Institution Affiliation



The law of supply and demand states that when the need for an item increases
significantly, then the price is likely to increase, especially if the supply of the commodity is
limited. On the other hand, when there is a high supply of a product, while the demand is low,
there is a higher chance that prices will fall. In this context, the demand for parking spots is
significantly higher during peak hours, since it is time people are going to work and need a pl...

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