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Learn About 'The High Cost of Free Parking' Tonight

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Shoup photo courtesy shoup.bol.ucla.edu; parking photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News
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Professor Donald Shoup (left) argues parking should be priced to reflect its true cost.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – and no such thing as free parking, according to an influential author speaking in Austin today.

The Urban Transportation Commission and City Council Member Chris Riley are hosting a conversation this evening with Donald Shoup. Shoup’s 2005 book, The High Cost of Free Parking, argues that on-street parking is a valuable commodity in cities, and should be priced accordingly to cut down on traffic congestion and pollution.

KUT News spoke with Shoup this morning. He noted the University  of Texas campus was a perfect example of some of the arguments he’s made.

“At a university, you can see what an urban area can look like if people pay for parking," he says. "I understand it’s $18 a day to pay for parking on campus. Well, why is it so expensive? Because that’s what it costs to provide it. When you go in the rest of Austin, it’s always almost free. It’s usually free. Well if the driver doesn’t pay for parking, who does? Well, everybody pays for parking, including people who are too poor to own a car. And there has to be awful lot of parking to satisfy the demand for people who pay nothing.”

Shoup’s appearance comes as the city embarks on a wayfinding initiative to improve downtown mobility. He’s speaking at a public meeting tonight at St. David’s Epsicopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street, at 5 p.m. – just in time for rush hour traffic. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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