At the City's website, you can find a compilation of many parking studies: http://www.nbpt.us/Planning/Parking.html
Especially worth checking out is the 2005 report: http://www.nbpt.us/Planning/ParkingStudies/Downtown%20Newburyport%20Parking%20Planning%20Study%20-%20Traffic%20Solutions.pdf
The purpose of this study was:
The City of Newburyport, Massachusetts proposes to create a paid off-street parking program. The purpose of this program is to more efficiently manage limited public parking resources. In addition, the program expects to generate revenue to provide funds for the construction of additional public parking. Specifically, the City anticipates that parking revenues would be used to offset capital and soft costs associated with a structured public parking facility in the Central Business District.I have heard from a couple of constituents on 'paid parking' including the argument that it will 'destroy the downtown' economy. The old days of parking meters get brought up. My sense is that the downtown was stagnant back in the day, not because of parking meters, but because many downtown buildings were abandoned as a nation got in cars and shopped at plazas and malls.
This study has been prepared to assist the City in its efforts to identify the scope of the off-street paid parking program. This report provides the information necessary to develop sound public policy for the creation of the program. It is also intended to provide a blueprint for the implementation of the plan.
My thinking at the moment via a few random thoughts:
- If we want more park on the waterfront (and I do), we will need to find substitute spaces and/or better manage the existing off-street parking spots and on-street spots.
- Before building a garage, we ought to be certain that we need it.
- Paid parking obviously would bring in net revenue to the City (see the end of the 2005 report for those estimates) and can assist with debt service on a garage (assuming we build one) or capital and operating expense for public waterfront space.
- If priced correctly and with the correct time limits, paid parking can end shopper cruising around the block (tell me you haven't buzzed around a few times to get a spot in front of Pizza Factory for that 3 minute pickup) and downtown workers moving their cars every few hours. (Late note: a reader correctly observed that I originally wrote 'Famous' Pizza which is not downtown. Mea culpa.)
- I don't see how you can charge in municipal lots and not charge for street parking.
- Downtown worker and senior 'discounts' can be built in. Parking spillover into residential areas can be addressed. Snow emergency parking can be addressed.
- We need better overall transportation planning. Take a look at a passing and often empty Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority #51 bus and you will know that we need better planning. We need better connections between the commuter rail station, the Park and Ride on Route 95, and new/old ways of getting around like bicycles. For an example of a community which has embraced a more comprehensive approach to transportation and parking, we could learn from Portsmouth's approach, in particular how they operate a 'seasonal downtown loop.'