Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | August 15, 2010

Free Parking

If shawarmas were free, we would always have a shawarma shortage. Parking is free, that’s why there’s never any free parking spaces. Most people driving around are usually just looking for a place to park and would be willing to pay a fee to park their car instead of wasting their time looking for a space. There is a market here to both generate revenue and reduce traffic and pollution. It’s a win-win situation, so why aren’t we talking about it?

San Francisco has recently implemented a ‘demand-responsive’ public parking scheme. What this means is that the price to park your car is responsive to how many people want to park there at that time. It’s measured by the number of empty spaces, the fewer the free spots the higher the price. The suggested range was as low as a quarter and going up to $6 per hour. This will hopefully encourage people to be selective in their driving and make sure that there’s at least 20% free parking spaces everywhere.

If you’re not in a hurry and don’t mind walking then you would just drive up to the nearest parking garage and park your car there, freeing up the street for people who are willing to pay extra to park there. Of course, in Kuwait, the reality is different from San Francisco. Most people can’t afford to pay 2 KD an hour during rush hour. That’s great. That means that we’re accurately pricing a scarce commodity (parking) and those people will have to find alternate means of parking or transportation. The reality now is not fair to anyone, and adopting ‘demand-responsive’ parking is a way to make life better for everyone. The revenue generated from this should go directly to improvements in public transportation and pedestrian infrastructure.



  1. I have seen countless examples of people circling round and round blocks hunting for that free parking spot while the parking garage right in front of them sits empty, just so they don’t have to pay!!

    And then you have women who are “scared” to park in garages

    Maybe this system will address this issue

  2. I like the idea of a park and ride around the city … people like to use their cars and public transportation in Kuwait are not the best nor are people ready to use them … so why not have multistorey parking scattered around the city where people can park and ride a short bus to work?

  3. […] is free, we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s being abused. We should follow the SF demand-responsive pricing model in the city. No free parking during rush hour. You cannot do this equitably without creating […]

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