Chart of the Day: Effect of Parking Benefits on Commute Mode

While this is technically a table and not a chart, it’s still interesting. It’s a table from a study about what kind of influence parking benefits (e.g. free parking for employees) has on people’s tendency to drive vs. take transit vs. bike to work.


The idea here is that if you provide free parking for your employees, they’ll be more likely to drive and less likely to take any other mode of transportation. Here’s the conclusion from the study:

Overall, our results support earlier findings in the literature that suggest com- muter benefits for walking, cycling, and public transportation may be effective at supporting TDM objectives. Free car parking tends to be associated with more driving to work, public transportation benefits tend to be associated with riding public transportation, and trip-end facilities at work such as showers/lockers and bike parking tend to support walking or cycling. Our results also add to the literature by presenting an evaluation of the joint supply of benefits. While benefits for alternatives to driving are associated with individuals choosing to walk, cycle, and ride public transportation, free car parking is associated with driving, and the joint provision of free car parking along with these other benefits may blunt the efficacy of efforts to get commuters to walk, cycle, and ride public transportation to work.

Check out the whole report here.

8 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Effect of Parking Benefits on Commute Mode

  1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

    At many employers with gates into their lots/ramps, a day-specific buyback could be implemented that would be a gamechanger here. It wouldn’t take anything away from existing employees dependent on “free” parking, but it would balance incentives. And the marginal cost of such a buyback is less than the marginal cost of providing a parking space.

  2. Rebecca AirmetRebecca Airmet

    QBP (Quality Bike Products), if I understand correctly, PAYS their employees to the tune of $3/day when they ride their bikes.

    It’s on the honor system (I think), but the culture there tends to encourage honesty in this particular regard.

    Of course, that’s a pretty self-selecting group of employees!

    1. Walker AngellWalker Angell

      And when you consider how much lower their healthcare costs are and with the lower costs largely attributed to their employees being active and bicycling to work then it’s actually saving them money. More employers should be doing this.

  3. Dana DeMasterDanaD

    My employer has a waiting list for parking spots at four ramps and runs free shuttles between the ramps and our two buildings. As more employees sit on waiting lists or rely on the shuttle there has been discussion about how to expand parking to decrease the wait and find closer parking to reduce shuttle costs. What most employees don’t know is that they enjoy subsidized parking. The do not see the benefits directly through a reimbursement, the rates of our parking are way, way lower than market rates of nearby ramps.

    Meanwhile, we have a Green Line station directly in front of one of our buildings and many bus lines within four blocks of the building. We do not offer a transit subsidy. Half of our bike lockers sit empty. *sigh*

    Wouldn’t the best way to reduce the parking wait list and the shuttles be to stop subsidzing parking? Let parking be market rate, subsidize Metro Passes, and offer a bicycle benefits program. Seems an obvious solution to me, but when I suggest it I have been met with reactions ranging from disbelief to hostility.

    1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

      Dana, I’ve proposed a sort of buyout program which gets past the hump of employees feeling like something is being taken away from them. I’m curious where you work. I’ve proposed it where I work in Minneapolis (fell on deaf ears) and for Mayo Clinic employees in Rochester, but I’m convinced it could work elsewhere. I’ve run some simulations and in many cases it would save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a year over paying to build even more parking. Contact me if you’re interested in finding out more.

  4. Ray

    Take a look at the studies produced by UCLA’s transportation demand management. In heavily congested west LA, they have reduced vehicle trips even though the campus population has increased. By capping parking spaces in a neighborhood, you can effectively cap road congestion.

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