Parking in Downtown areas



My name is Patrick and I have grown up in a metropolitan area my whole life. I along with many other people around me have found parking to be an annoyance in many cities I visit. This is largely due to me either not having change, or seeing many people just accepting tickets and parking wherever. I have often visited cities with more modernized parking systems but have still found flaws. Things such as broken meters, not having change, “I don’t know how long I’ll be,” and “I’ll only be a short amount of time” are some of the main problems that plague parkers everywhere.


An “outdated” coin only meter, also needing repair


There is a growing problem in many downtown areas involving parking. Due to many cities not updating their parking systems as technology advances, it is becoming increasingly difficult for residents and workers to park in cities at a reasonable price. They are often given tickets or paying high prices for parking in areas that would be convenient for them. Many meters are still operating on coin only payments, a problem for many people that are using electronic or paper currency.

Quick Survey

While some cities and towns have already begun to modernize their parking systems, we can use game theory strategies to devise which would be the best way for people and the city to approach this problem. In conjunction with switching to machines that accept cash, coins, and credit cards I would like to propose the idea to also bring in parking permits. The permits would work by corresponding to the car. Each permit provides unlimited parking in any designated permit spot for a weekly, monthly, or annual fee.

Plans for Change

Below is a payoff matrix of the different strategies that the city or the parkers could use to come out ahead. I would like to show this to the city I live in in order to show how it would be beneficial for them to adopt permits in the parking system.

People Parking

A1: People paying with only their permits.

: People paying only through meters.

C1: People using a combination of both meters and permits.

The City

A2: Making better spots more expensive and only for meter parking.

B2: Raise all meter prices–encouraging more people to by permits.

C2: Have better spots be for permit parkers only.

The city
People Parking (X1,Y2) A2 B2 C2
A1 (-1,1) (1,1) (2,2)
B1 (1.5,1.25) (0,2) (-1,1)
C1 (1,1.5) (1,1.5) (1,1.5)

Outcomes/Reasons for payoff

(A1,A2)–The person won’t be able to park anywhere. The city will gain money from others parking in the spot as well as the persons permit

(B1,A2)– Although paying slightly more, the person has a convenient walk. The city is getting the slightly increased pay from the meters.

(C1,A2)– Person pays both, but no matter what will have a good parking spot. The city gets money from both as well.

(A1,B2)– Person does not have to pay the increased cost of the meters. City still makes money off of the permits and others who pay increased meter costs.

(B1,B2)– Person is constantly having to pay the higher meter costs. City is making bank off of their increased prices.

(C1,B2)– Person will not have to pay for the higher meter costs. City is making money on permit.

(A1,C2)– Person always has a convenient spot, and over time cheaper parking. City will profit from people feeling obligated to get permits which may not even be used often.

(B1,C2)– Person will have inconvenient walks. The city will make money off of the permit holders and the meters the person uses.

(C1,C2)– Person always has convenient spot but paying for for parking meters and permits. City is making money on both permit and people paying meters.

Survey pt. 2

Solution Using Game Theory Techniques

The city should go with option B or C in order to make the most money. Using dominance we can see that option B is better than option A in every way. We can also see that although it is not the same order, option C has the same numbers as B, making it the other equally optimal choice. In order to choose, the city should look at the people’s payoffs and do what would lead to something called the “Pareto optimal outcome.” In other words, this is known as the best possible outcome for both parties. Using this the city should choose strategy C.

 For the people, strategy C would be the safest way to play this game, but not necessarily the best. With the knowledge that C is the most likely move by the city, the people playing should also aim for the “Pareto optimal outcome” and play strategy A.

The solution to this game should be point (A1,C2) or a payoff of 2 for each player.

What did you think the solution would be?

Final Question/Call to Action

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