'Flexi-Fee' Car Parking Plans

Car parking charges in Cambridge could vary in busy periods as part of a new proposal to deal with congestion. The variable parking charges plan would mean prices in a particular car park being dependent on how many spaces it had left and how long the queues were leading to it.
cambridge.gifA planned system of electronic signs around the city would show motorists the prices for each multistorey car park at that time.

Drivers would be more likely to go for the cheapest car park, which planners hope would spread parking more evenly across the city, so cutting queues and congestion.

The idea originated in the US and is untested on a large scale in the UK. However, Cambridge is one of the worst-hit cities in the country for congestion and council chiefs are constantly looking for ways to alleviate the problem.

Richard Preston, Cambridgeshire County Council's Cambridge projects manager, said: "You can use parking charges as a control mechanism. When there are periods of queuing there are often spaces elsewhere but people use the most convenient car park.

"With the new information signing system, a driver could see if there was a queue at a particular car park and if there were higher charges there than another car park.

"This is only an idea at this time and there is no firm commitment.

It is another way of maximising the use of parking spaces in the city.

"I'm sure drivers will say that if we have higher charges at some times then we should balance that out with lower charges at other times when the car parks are empty - and that is perfectly reasonable."

He said it was not an "anti-car measure" and that buses, cyclists and other drivers were often held up by people queuing for car parks.

Jenny Bailey, the city councillor for transport, said the system could encourage people to use park and ride if they see car parking charges are high on a particular day.

She said: "People should have a choice. With this system people could look at how much it will cost to park in the city when they drive in and if they think that is the right thing to do they can do it.

Other people may choose the park and ride instead. We are looking at all the possibilities."
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