By on July 13, 2017

parking city

INRIX Research, which compiles automotive data for automakers and state agencies, is claiming Americans waste 73 billion dollars every year trying to find and hold a parking space. Following a survey of nearly 6,000 drivers in 10 U.S. cities, INRIX concluded the average driver suffers an average of 17 hours and $345 worth of wasted time, fuel, and emissions.

While that sounds ridiculous, a 2017 national survey from the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport claimed average British drivers waste four days of their lives every year doing the same thing. The number was twice as high for city-based residents. Perhaps 17 annual hours is a little more reasonable than it initially seemed. 

Anyone who has lived in both rural and major metropolitan areas will tell you there is a huge parking disparity between the two. But how blatant it may be is largely dependent upon the town in which you are trying to stash your car. Unsurprisingly, New York drivers have it the worst of anyone living the the United States. Spending an hour hunting for free parking is not unheard of in some parts of the Big Apple. According to the survey, that equates to 107 hours and a staggering $2,243 worth of wasted time and energy.

Los Angeles pursued New York as the city with the second most egregious parking experience, at 85 hours, followed by San Francisco (83 hours), Washington D.C. (65 hours), Seattle (58 hours), Chicago (56 hours), Boston (53 hours), Atlanta (50 hours), Dallas (48 hours) and Detroit (35 hours).

“Americans spend an incredible $72.7 billion searching for the elusive parking spot,” said Bob Pishue, senior economist at INRIX. “Our country’s parking pain has widespread impact — on drivers, cities, the economy and the environment. Thankfully, it’s a problem that can be improved through education, technology and partnerships.”

Tainting its research with an agenda, INRIX is one of those companies poised to help the world out of this problem with its data solutions and connected vehicle apps. However, its parking estimates might not be all that far off the mark. While the majority of Americans aren’t subject to inflated parking rates and hours of hunting for a space, a multitude of studies suggest city-dwellers spend an incredible amount of time seeking parking. A UCLA study using decades of data assessed that up to 30 percent of the traffic in downtown Los Angeles might just be looking for an open space, contributing to 47,000 gallons of wasted gas every year. Related studies showed Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood posting similar cruising percentages.

Whether this is an argument for abandoning driving entirely (please don’t) or simply a case for sounder city planning, urbanites face unique problems while driving. Almost two-thirds of the surveyed American drivers reported feeling stressed while trying to find a parking spot in the past year, nearly half admitted to a missed appointment, a third abandoned a trip entirely, and almost one-quarter claimed to have experienced legitimate road rage.

However, the problems don’t end once you’ve found a place to stick your vehicle. “In the search for parking, overpayments and fines is a $96 billion problem in the U.S.,” said Pishue. “To lessen the burden parking pain has on our economy and quality of life, drivers, parking operators and cities must adopt smart parking solutions.”

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59 Comments on “The Hunt for Parking Apparently Costs Americans $73 Billion Annually...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    A lot of that is in places that are saturated with vehicles (or not enough spots, pick your analysis) but I wonder how much of this is from people who are unwilling to walk an extra few steps or an extra few hundred steps?

    Don’t get me wrong- I’m the guy who drives faster than almost everybody else, but as I’m walking past empty spots in the parking lot there are other cars pulling into spots much closer than mine… and getting to the door before me. Some of those other cars are people I passed and left behind at a light that changed red after I made it through.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Exactly, most of the parking lots where I see lots of cars circling have plenty of free space, but at the far end of the parking lot. I’d rather just go find the first big swath of open space and be done with it. I need the activity anyhow.

      But there’s also probably lots of cheapskates (like myself) that spend lots of time searching for cheap or free parking, and probably haven’t thought too thoroughly on the economic cost of lost time and spent fuel against the parking cost savings.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Here is my strategy: if there is a parking aisle inline with the entrance to a store, don’t waste your time going down that aisle. So many people just mindlessly start down the center aisle, as if it’s the only place to start looking for a spot.

      Start 2 or 3 aisles over from that. Car traffic is lower. There is a higher likelihood of finding an open spot, and a spot close to the front. Lower likelihood of having to try another aisle. Less time wasted all around.

      You are further from the door “horizontally” but usually get to park close enough to compensate for the extra distance.

  • avatar
    Blackbeard

    This is not accidental. The people who run urban planning departments in the liberal coastal enclaves hate cars and work to make driving more difficult. California has publicly admitted this but New York is still pretending that they actually care about improving traffic flow, parking, etc.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Visualize Free Parking.

  • avatar
    threeer

    No, I can believe this. My FIL will drive in circles for however long it takes to find the closest parking spot possible. Never mind that he could get into whatever store he’s going to much faster (usually) if he’d just park wherever and walk in! I’d hate to calculate how much time he’s actually lost just since I’ve known him!

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    I ran service in the Chicago Metropolitan area, and finding parking was a huge PITA. There are many streets that don’t allow trucks and may lots that don’t allow vans because of height or security concerns. Many times I spent an extra half hour driving around to find a free space. The new reserved parking apps that allow you to prepay would have made my job much easier. The electronic tolling was a huge step forward.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is when it’s nice to have a hybrid. The car tends to motor around on electric at low speeds while hunting for parking.

    But I agree with Blackbeard above ^^, cities really don’t want your car there to begin with.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I WILL drive around more to find a free space.

    If all the spaces are free, I’m much more willing to just park and walk.

    I am not a city person, and I do not like paying for parking.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I am in an NYC outer borough and spend about 10 minutes a day, on average, searching for parking within a half mile square of my apartment. I could resolve the issue by paying for parking, it would be a $160 monthly expense. No thanks!

    I’d like to see a serious study & cost – benefit analysis of vehicle emission’s testing. That is, what are the yearly cumulative emissions output of vehicles just driving around in circles trying to set readiness monitors for State DMV inspections? I am not advocating removing emission equipment… I am suggesting that there has to be a more efficient way!

    HOV lanes dont work either IMO. People still do not car pool in mass numbers, the HOV lane is wide open and clear, yet you have THOUSANDS of cars and trucks idling along burning fuel in the non-HOV lanes. Get rid of the HOV lane and it will relieve traffic exponentially!

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      At 20 working days a month that’s more than 3 hours wasted; plus the cost of fuel. Assigning a reasonable hourly value to your free time that $160 a month might actually be a good buy.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        Exactly. I reverse commute out of Boston, and though I could park for free on the street in my (very tight) neighborhood, I gladly pay $125/month for overnight parking in a nearby garage because there’s no way I’m going to hunt for a spot every night. Not to mention all of the “parking by feel” damage, vandalism, snow removal, etc. that a protected garage space avoids.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      HOV lanes in my area are so crowded that they are slowing down and bus reliability is suffering. Since those buses are taking about half of all downtown commuters into town, they’re serving a lot more people than the regular lanes.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    No it doesn’t. Fake news. Do the math.
    Robert Farago… where are you?

  • avatar
    deanst

    What a load of drivel. People “waste” time because they choose to look for the illusive close + free or cheap spot. Obviously they think it is worth the time to keep looking or they wouldn’t be doing it. Anyone with half a brain and working legs can quickly find a spot at the mall or use a parking app to find a spot downtown. Playing the alternate side parking game in NYC can be a pain, but, again, you can pay for off-street parking if you value your time highly.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Ahh the joys of living in a big city :)
    Since I moved out to flyover country 7 years ago, I think I’ve spent a grand total of $0 looking for a parking space.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Living in Los Angeles this is true .

    I don’t mind walking buy my city has crooked council that takes bribes from developers to greenlight multi family residential units with 1.5 (?! I’ve never seen a 1/2 car driving) parking per homes designed for at least three people .

    They’re breaking ground on a city center commercial thing that’s a mile from the trolley and using the trolly as an excuse to have almost no parking .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Are people spending this time searching for a cheaper/free parking spot?

    or

    Are people spending this time simply because parking of any kind is limited?

    or

    Are people spending time because they aren’t familiar with the area and don’t know where parking is?

    Probably a little bit of all these, I suppose.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Alternate headline: Americans choose to spend time looking for cheaper, closer parking

  • avatar
    TW5

    People can avoid the subject all they want, but major metropolises are all run by one political party, which is known internationally for its overarching inferiority to other parties in the developed world. Rather than focus on urban planning and development, they are more worried about keeping poor people trapped in bad school districts. They are more concerned with preventing the deportation of felons, than they are concerned about making sure people have access to affordable housing and public transportation. They are more interested in pandering to race and gender groups, than they are interested in property managing and protecting their police, firefighters, and fire responders.

    Their ineptitude explains why the fastest growing cities in the US are not metropolises (as the press would like you to believe), but booming super-sized suburbs in Texas like Conroe (Houston), Frisco (DFW), McKinney (DFW), Georgetown (Austin), New Braunfels (San Antonio), Cedar Park (Austin). In fact, of the CBO’s latest compiles report for 2015, all of the fastest growing cities are suburbs, and all of them are in red states, spare Bend City, Oregon. Four of the top-five fastest growing cities are in Texas.

    We do not have market failure and perverse residents in our major cities. We have a terminal political disease.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Apparently, some people can twist any subject of discussion into a political rant.

      So, TW5, why don’t you share with us your brilliant idea on how to create lots of new free parking spaces in Manhattan (and other large downtown cores), while eliminating traffic congestion and weaning people away from public transportation?

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        I’m not interested in trying to pack several hundred acres of vehicles in to dense commercial areas each morning. I’m also not impressed by people who tax/spend billions to create a transportation desert, ruled by public sector unions and corrupt bureaucrats, which sends residents scattering for the suburbs and exurbs.

        It’s 60 years after Eisenhower’s interstate infrastructure plan, and urban planners still can’t figure out how to make urban life appealing to a majority of citizens within their metropolis. Most people still aspire to live in the suburbs, where it’s cheaper, safer, more spacious, with better public services, particularly schools.

        This is the opposite of urban development, and it’s been achieved by the perpetual ineptitude of local politicians in major American cities, all of whom tend to subscribe to the heterodoxy of a single political party.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          “Most people still aspire to live in the suburbs”. Really?

          In most developed countries, suburbs are for people who would prefer to live in the city, but can’t afford to.

          There is also a long-term trend, across human history and around the world, to urbanization, so more and more of the population are living in major urban centres.

          In the US, Millennials are keen to live in urban environments – which is why General Electric is moving its headquarters from suburban Connecticut to downtown Boston, so that it can attract people from a better talent pool.

          Each to his own. I have lived in suburbs in the US and Canada, and found them devoid of redeeming social value. But that’s me.

          In the meantime, you carp at any lack of success in dealing with transportation issues in major urban centres, but have no positive alternatives to offer.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      as much as I wouldn’t want to live in a place like NYC, having been to the DFW area (Plano, McKinney) I wouldn’t want to live there either. Maybe even less so. Just a tangled sea of highways threading through Giant Suburbia. And because- like typical suburbia- everywhere you need to go is at least 15 miles apart, the traffic is horrendous.

      and don’t get me started on how bloody out of their g*ddamn minds they are about high school football, of all things.

      “In fact, of the CBO’s latest compiles report for 2015, all of the fastest growing cities are suburbs, and all of them are in red states, spare Bend City, Oregon. Four of the top-five fastest growing cities are in Texas.”

      all that proves is that white people move away from things which scare them.

  • avatar
    Blackbeard

    As a resident of the People’s Republic of Manhattan allow me to say that you have it exactly right.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    blackbeard: “This is not accidental. The people who run urban planning departments in the liberal coastal enclaves hate cars and work to make driving more difficult. California has publicly admitted this but New York is still pretending that they actually care about improving traffic flow, parking, etc.”

    That’s ridiculous. City planners simply cannot provide enough parking for all drivers to park every time with no inconvenience or cost, and the same goes for streets. Private cars are inherently a grossely inefficient means of getting around. All of us pay heavily for this unfortunate fact, one way or another, sooner or later.

    Hidden behind the cost described by this article is the vastly higher cost in real estate prices caused by dedicating most urban space to move and park private cars.

    At least we’re already paying for that so there is some sort of control on it. We are only beginning to pay for the even vastly higher cost of the damage to the planet.

    And some will implement autonomous cars by having them drive around instead of parking them.

    In fact urban planners and politicians have been irresponsible by the degree to which they have bowed to the pressure from vested interests to cater to the fossil fuel and car industries. THAT is what costs you.

    • 0 avatar
      usernamealreadyregistered

      Eh. The old urban planners chopped up cities to put in freeways. The new urban planners, at least in my neck of the woods, are deliberately making it more difficult for drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        It probably varies between regions but a lot of new urban planners make it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists. Lots of sprawling suburbia built without sidewalks and subdivisions that aren’t interconnected- they’ll have one or two entrances on arteries and those main roads aren’t particularly friendly to bikes or walking. So even if you wanted to go somewhere a mile or two away, it’s impractical *not to* drive. Ironically, this causes more congestion that makes it less practical *to* drive.

        I blame the developers because they’re the ones who negotiate with the local governments and get impact fees trimmed down. I blame the local governments for contributing to this. I blame the citizenry for electing those local governments. I want to live on my own island!!

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          JinC2: “…Lots of sprawling suburbia built without sidewalks and subdivisions that aren’t interconnected- they’ll have one or two entrances on arteries and those main roads aren’t particularly friendly to bikes or walking.”

          A little over a year ago a forest fire swept into Canada’s tarsands town, Fort McMurray. Because all the new suburbs had only one exit to the main highway, hundreds of people almost burned to death in their cars because of the clogged single exits from their foolishly planned paradise.

        • 0 avatar
          usernamealreadyregistered

          Suburban neighborhoods with fractal-shaped streets and limited entryways are not designed with any type of transportation efficiency in mind. They’re designed to keep people who don’t live in the neighborhood from passing through it. They’re basically a sort of gated community for the middle class. Without the actual gate.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            exactly. the inner Detroit suburbs mostly have their residential streets laid out in a grid. all of the newer developments in the outer suburbs are giant tangles.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Inefficient compared to what? Light-rail, which impacts so little real estate that transit authorities have to put parking lots at the train stations to multiply the economic impact.

      Automobiles have inefficiencies and externalities like every other form of transportation. Urban planners are deciding the future for us, and they are doing a terrible job.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Trivial accounting issues do not change the relative efficiencies of transportation types.

        We can’t have a sensible discussion without a common base of facts. In this case, facts known prior to the global warming issue. Transportation efficiency charts are really easy to find on the internet.

        • 0 avatar
          stingray65

          Yes but the relative efficiency measures never include consumer convenience. With light traffic it takes me 35 minutes to drive to work, in bad traffic it can take 70 minutes, and stopping at a store on the way is easy and fast. Public transit – if everything works perfectly will take me at least 90 minutes, or 120+ minutes if I need to stop at the store. Plus I have a comfortable seat in my car, can play the tunes I want to hear, and have perfect climate control – all things that can be difficult to impossible to achieve on a bus or train. No rum/pot smelling bumbs or angry gang-bangers in my car either. Which is why so many people prefer the “inefficiency” of a car to the “efficiency” of a bus or train, even though planners do everything in their power to discourage us.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            On the other hand, public transit and taking the train was good enough for the Warriors (IIRC that was in the middle of the movie, before the end when they came out to play).

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            Indeed. And relative efficiency does not include costing. You may know how much you spend on your car every year. I doubt you know what the downsides of using a car cost you. I highly doubt you know how much of your money goes to transit every year. Because these same vested interests have kept you uninformed so successfully that you voluntarily shill for them.

            The average person spends, one way or another, about 3% as much on transit as they do on their car. Whether they use transit or not. If they don’t use it, they benefit from the reduced congestion and pollution of those who do. More parking too.

            So how do you expect to have a competitively effective transit system when you spend bugger-all on it?

            Just doubling transit spending to 6% each would be revolutionary. Go ahead, you can do it. It won’t kill you. The US is blowing vast amounts of capital by emphasizing a very inefficient mode of transportation. $$trillions.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          When costing public transportation you also have to account for the fact that most people do not wish to be forced to sit next to C.H.U.D.S. for three hours every day.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @brandloyalty

          Economic multipliers as they pertain to various forms of public transit are not trivial accounting matters. There is a reason these studies are omitted from most government data, and basic energy efficiency or passenger efficiency data is used.

          As I pointed out earlier, light-rail is so inefficient that they have to put huge parking lots at the train stations, and they have to build a system of roads so that people can be dropped off by vehicle.

          You won’t find an explanation for this phenomenon in any government study. They will merely insist that the average American is an earth-hating bigot. Sad, but as long as people fall for this explanation, it’s the only explanation the public will receive.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackbeard

      Brandloyalty: See, for example: http://la.streetsblog.org/2014/08/07/california-has-officially-ditched-car-centric-level-of-service/

      What that article is saying, TL:DR form, is that if you have a project that is going to make traffic worse, say bike lanes, no environmental review is required. Congestion, delays, accidents, increased pollution, not officially don’t count under CEQA. In other words, in California, making traffic worse is now good because it will decrease vehicle miles traveled hence CO2 emissions. I think what you’re saying is you agree. I don’t and I bet the voters in California don’t either.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        But you also know that you cannot solve traffic congestion by building more roads. So what is the solution?

        • 0 avatar
          Blackbeard

          Nonsense. The idea that traffic will expand to congest any road you build implies that there is potentially an infinite amount of traffic in LA. When you build or improve a road and traffic increases that shows that demand was suppressed before. People wanted to make those trips but traffic was bad enough to deter them. Of course deterring people from driving is just what California wants to do.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Just wait for self-driving cars – after being dropped at the front door of their destination, the self-driving car owner will do one of three things: 1) send the car out to cruise until finding a free parking space, 2) send the car home to wait in the garage until coming back to pick up the owner at the end of the day, or 3) send the car out to Uber and earn income until the owner needs the car. No self-driving car owner is going to pay for parking, which is going to be a big problem for cities that rely on parking and parking ticket revenues, and will no doubt result in implementation of mileage based taxation. Private sector parking garage owners should start sweating.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Just a tiny increment in tha amount of cars on the road is going to cause gridlock in the city where I live, and many others. We already teeter on the edge of that because we’re at the level where the frustration of trying to drive somewhere causes some to not drive, or drive at some other time.

      I can just imagine in an emergency people would unleash their self-driving cars and the streets would clog to immobility immediately.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Yes, cars driving around without occupants is going to do wonders for road congestion. Every hour will be rush hour. Can’t wait.

  • avatar
    ixim

    In a suburb, you KNOW there’s a parking space at your home and local destination. If, like me, you’d rather park in the back, away from the door dingers, no problem. Or, as I see all the time at my local gym, people unwilling to walk from there fight over the close in spots. In NYC, every mayor since John Lindsay 50 years ago has been hostile to private vehicles. In Manhattan. where I drive and street park all the time, I do the following: First, drive right up to your destination. There SHOULD be a legal street space right there, but, as we all know, sometimes there isn’t. Next, discharge all passengers; this courtesy should get you cred with the parking gods. Now, devote no more than 20 minutes to cruising the neighborhood for a spot. Usually, you’ll find it. It may be a meter – some NYC MuniMeters cost $3.50/hr. As a last resort, pay the $40.00 for a garage. Not to brag, but the last time I did that was 2010. Note – sometimes there is no legal parking; just pay the garage.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Part of the problem, if you live in a city like mine (Vancouver), is the politicians who have decided cars are the enemy. In their world, people want to ride their bicycles 10 miles to the mall and are dying to take the bus after midnight in their suits and dresses. But, they are very important and have so many things to do, that they need their cars. Unlike common folk.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      “Mayor Moonbeam” of Vancouver and some members of the city council do get around by cycling and transit. So your attempt to paint them as hypocrites is either uninformed or blatant lying.

      Just because cycling, walking or transit are suitable for some trips does not mean cars are not suitable for anything. Our problems are too serious to waste time muddling around in simpleton arguments.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Blame the developers. There’s no money for them in providing infrastructure, so they don’t.

    They outright own the county zoning boards here and carve themselves exemptions for all of the historical requirements regarding number of parking spaces per residence or retail foot, off-site collector road improvements, etc.

    The inevitable result of parking spillover onto adjacent lots and neighborhoods, massive congestion with thousands of new residents exceeding the capacity of existing roads, door dings in high density lots with 80″ between the parking lines, etc. is for the suckers who already live there.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    For all the DMV (DC, MD, VA) area B&B who need to go into the District on occasion sign up for Parking Panda (full disclosure: I have NO interest or relationship with who or what ever owns that app). It was SO SWEET to drive right into an empty parking garage right by the zoo to attend “ZooLights”. Parking Panda has helped me save time when going to my DC based eye Dr. and when meeting other people out for drinks/dinner. Check it out and make your own decision. (do your own search, I’m not linking to anything)


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