Improving The Driving Experience: Dynamic Parking and Driving

Yesterday I was watching a video about new innovations that will likely come to the car industry over the next 20 years. Most of the new ideas focused on cars themselves but my two favorite takeaways were actually about the driving experience as opposed to the physical car. Some cities like San Francisco have begun experimenting with what is known as dynamic parking and driving, bringing economic theory to life for drivers in congested areas.

Dynamic parking is essentially supply and demand brought to life in real time. Have you ever spent an hour driving around a city looking for a parking spot? Well no more. Really. In San Francisco, as parking spaces get taken, the prices of other meters increase continuously up to a current $6 dollar per hour cap. As prices rise higher, people are less likely to want to pay to park, but for those who really need a spot and are willing to pay, spots will be available. Once the program finishes the pilot phase, the maximum cap will likely be removed from the meters so that the system can work even more efficiently.

Learn more about this map and San Francisco parking here.

The second thing that I like even more than dynamic parking has a variety of names but for purposes of consistency I will call it dynamic driving. Picture a crowded four lane highway with cars stuck in every lane for hours trying to get to work, school or wherever. Now imagine cars cruising at non-traffic speeds through one of these lanes. This is dynamic driving. Much like getting a fast pass at an amusement park, drivers can opt to pay a price to drive in the traffic free lane. Depending on how congested the other lanes are, this price will fluctuate to ensure that the traffic free lane really remains traffic free. This will allow people the option to choose to pay to remove the inconvenience of traffic which is a remarkably new idea.

Both dynamic parking and driving new ideas but they come with great benefits. They can boost government revenues both at local and federal levels as people pay directly for the convenience of using roads and parking spaces. Despite the increased revenues for the government and overall efficiency gains, consumers have the option to keep their current habits; if you don't want to pay, you can stay in traffic just as you always have. There seem to be few if any downsides to these new programs and other cities will soon likely follow San Francisco in adopting these new innovative traffic control measures.

Despite all of these innovations, car use may be on the permanent decline.