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Bring on the paid parking

Dear Editor:

Along with most of you, I hated the idea of paid parking in Aspen. Years ago, when our politicians rolled out the ridiculous concept of parking meters all over our beautiful little mountain town, I thought it was about the dumbest idea I had ever heard. However, it turned out I was dead wrong. The parking meters have worked as planned. They freed up spots by discouraging unnecessary use and encouraged residents to walk, bicycle or take the bus when possible.

Parking in Aspen is a scarce resource. According to classic economic theory, a limited resource will cause “lines to form” or cause the “price to rise.” One hundred cars constantly driving in circles around downtown Aspen in search of a place to park is the equivalent of the “get in line” result. I believe that Mick [Ireland] and the other members of City Council actually got it right this time by expanding the scope of paid parking and simultaneously raising the cost.



The number of cars we are trying to fit into Aspen is the equivalent of four pounds of potatoes in a three pound bag. When these vehicles spew toxic emissions while searching for a parking space, we add to our pollution woes and make a mockery of the Canary Initiative.

There are several other steps that need to be taken promptly. We must build additional parking garages under our downtown parks as part of a community plan with real vision to the future. We should utilize the excess parking revenue and other funding to immediately make the RFTA buses free for every rider all the way to New Castle. In my opinion, we will not solve our traffic and pollution problems by building four-lanes or straight-shots. We will reduce our congestion problem when we create and align proper incentives for the use of public transportation.




This doesn’t mean I am so naive I believe everyone will stop driving their cars to Aspen. What it does suggest, is when parking costs 10 or 20 dollars a day or more, and the bus is free, more people will try to ride the bus. Not only will traffic be reduced on Highway 82, benefiting those who must drive their own vehicles, but it will greatly enhance the quality of life for everyone in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Jerry Bovino

Aspen


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