University of California Transportation Center
Parking Subsidies and Travel Choices: Assessing the Evidence
- Author(s): Willson, Richard W.
- Shoup, Donald C.
- et al.
This article reviews empirical studies of how employer-paid parking affects employees' travel choices. A strong effect is found: parking subsidies greatly increase solo driving.When employers reduce or remove parking subsidies, a significant number of solo drivers shift to carpools and/or transit. This conclusion is based on studies of parking subsidies in a variety of circumstances, including central city and suburban areas, private and public employers, and clerical and professional employees. Three measures are developed to compare changes in commute patterns: changes in the share of solo drivers, changes in the number of autos driven to work per 100 employees, and the parking price elasticity of demand for solo driving. The studies reviewed here show that 19 to 81 percent fewer employees drive to work alone when they pay for their own parking. Because 90 percent of American commuters who drive to work receive employer-paid parking, these findings are significant for designing transportation policies to reduce air pollution, traffic congestion, and energy consumption.