April 17, 2009

(1) $2 Daily Workplace Parking Charge + $4 Cashout and (2) Instant Ridesharing: Hope Amidst 15 Failed Pilots


Steve Raney, Principal Consultant, ATS ULTra Personal Rapid Transit. Executive Director, Cities21


(1): This complicated driving reduction pricing proposal won’t be the first out the door, but after business rejects carbon pricing and voters reject congestion charging, this policy could arise as a more palatable alternative.

Past efforts to convert free workplace parking to charged or cashout have not flourished. This new scheme begins with $0.25/day charge and $1/day cashout. Charges/cashout increase over time to $2/$4 as other companies adopt the scheme, addressing the previous recruiting/retention objection. Trust-based, self-reporting enables very low-cost implementation, addressing the previous cost objection. The scheme is marketed to workers as a climate-protecting measure. Potential U.S. commute VMT savings is 23%, reducing 51.7M tons CO2/year. Compared to past efforts, this scheme uses a) collective, phased action to overcome the Tragedy of the Commons, b) simultaneous charge and cashout, c) trust-based reporting, and d) monetization of saved parking spaces. A company that voluntarily implements this scheme risks productivity-reducing internal employee strife between climate protectors and climate skeptics. To address this objection, a “good cop, bad cop” strategy is proposed. This policy research is informed by behavioral psychologists, listserv sounding boards, and advocacy to nine large Silicon Valley employers.

(2): With traditional carpools, members are selected and then the carpool proceeds most weekdays for months without change. With dynamic ridesharing, one-time carpools are arranged within 3 days of the trip. With new GPS cellphone technology (Apple iPhone & Google Android T-Mobile phones), “instant ridesharing” is enabled, where one-time rides are arranged within minutes of the start of the trip. With instant ridesharing, a person may carpool every day, but with the flexibility of a different departure time and group of people each day. IRS can handle schedule variations in a manner that makes transportation routine and hassle-free. See here.

Biographical Sketch

Steve Raney was Principal Investigator for the U.S. EPA’s “Transforming Office Parks into Transit Villages” study in Pleasanton. He was project manager for BART’s Group Rapid Transit study. He is the author of six Transportation Research Board (TRB) papers. Raney holds three masters: business, software, and transportation from Columbia, RPI, and Berkeley.
Raney is also Executive Director, Cities21 (A San Francisco Community Initiatives project). Raney’s 2005 paper on “Digital Hitchhiking for Microsoft,” was the first instant ridesharing concept to propose a “critical mass corridor” using GIS commute analysis. His instant ridesharing patent, “GPS carpool rendezvous tracking and personal safety verification,” is the first to use GPS cell phones and is the only safety-related patent in the space.
Raney is also co-founder of the YIMBY group, Alliance for a Livable Palo Alto.