More on transit and taxes
We had another Propel Pittsburgh meeting last night, finally forming the committees and getting down to the business of discussing ideas and moving towards actually doing something. More on that to come from the Mayor’s office eventually, so I’ll leave it aside for now.
An interesting idea sprang up on the way back home, as I was talking things over with a fellow commissioner who I know from grad school at CMU. He pointed out that we have a fundamental problem with pricing parking, especially downtown and Oakland. At the current price, demand is way over supply in the daytime, but plummets at night (hence the presence of “$5 after 5” rates).
The idea is this: why not capture that price inefficiency and put it to work for the city? In other words, raise the parking tax back up — but only during normal working hours. At night, let it stay at current rates or cut it further. Charge people for using up a scarce public resource, incentivizing them to carpool and/or use transit. This would also have the nice side effect of boosting transit ridership, helping PAT find its own way out of the hole (maybe even without the drinks tax, though I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting).