Once the infrastructure for a dynamic transportation system is in place. a variety of more-sophisticated pricing options become available. There are innumerable possibilities available, but these can be generalized into three main categories, described in further detail below. The most important point to highlight before discussing the various dials that can be adjusted in a dynamic transportation system is that simplicity is a virtue. Just because it is possible to make differential rates for each day of the week doesn’t make it a good idea. Again, striking the right balance between legibility and effectiveness will be key.
TIME OF DAY PRICING
Some worksites have used different prices for time bands during the day to meet a variety of policy objectives. Healthcare settings and other 24/7 work places have used time of day pricing as an equity factor, since housekeeping are some of the lower paid staff and yet have to arrive early in the morning when there are fewest transit or other options available. Charging the highest rate at peaks tend to have greatest effect in mode shift since more options are available, and can support congestion reduction goals.
Another potential pricing strategy is tiered pricing based on usage within a pay period or month. In the example above, the first 14 days of parking a person uses in a month costs $4 per day, but the 15th and all subsequent events cost $8 per day. This approach sends a very clear price signal for users to be aware of how often they are driving--and that they should look for other ways to travel to campus after a certain number of days driving. A major university in Portland Oregon is rolling out a tiered pricing pilot in the Fall of 2018.
OTHER PRICING DIALS
Once we’ve stepped away from the parking permit model, pricing strategies allow for more nuanced and flexible system management options. For example, it might be useful for transportation services to know ahead of time how many people will be parking on a given day, so they would offer a discount for users who reserve parking the previous day. Alternately, users would have the option to pre-purchase a ‘bundle’ of parking days at a discount, and would be subject to higher daily after the bundle is used up.