Carrot and Stick in Amsterdam

One of the best examples of consistent parking management is the city of Amsterdam. The principle is simple. The closer you park to the centre the more you pay. Amsterdam’s parking regime covers an area that, as far as population is concerned, is nearly as big as Bremen.

Push: You park – you pay (the stick)

Marjolein de Lange describes the Amsterdam policy in her study “The Amsterdam Mobility Fund, Report September 2014 für die TUB Trafikutredningsbyrån AB“. 156.000 of 250.000 public parking spaces in Amsterdam fall under the parking management scheme. 485.000 inhabitants live in this area, 292.000 people go to work here. Visitors pay in the centre per day up to €55, or € 5-8 per hour. Inhabitants who want to buy the right to park their cars near their houses pay between €24 per year in Noord and €440 per year in some parts of Centrum. [1. See Lange, p.13 and  Parken in Amsterdam ,  Online Parkticket Amsterdam]

No parking without payment

Demand is exceeding supply. There are waiting lists, with some inhabitants waiting up to 4 years for a concession. Consequently only 28% of all inhabitants over 18 own a car.

Clear lines: You will be toed

Pull: Parking fees pay for improvements in sustainable transport (the carrot)

Amsterdam has had parking fees since 1960, but since 1991 the income isn’t just paid into the central state budget but goes to the city of Amsterdam, and Amsterdam spends the money via a designated mobility fund. [2. Lange, p. 7] In 2012 Amsterdam achieved a total income of €160m from parking fees. 38% are spent on management costs, whilst 39% goes to mobility funds of the seven outskirts and 23% to the city centre. The majority funds measures for pedestrians, bicycles and public transport. [3. Lange, p.8f]

Parking and charging in one go

Parallel to these measures, the modal share of car driving fell in 20 years from 39 to 31%, whilst cycling’s share rose from 25% in 1970 to 38% in 2008. „All in all, higher parking fees, less on-street parking, better networks for public transport and bicycles, car limiting circulation and more P+R places near the ring road have led to 30% reduction of car use in the city centre (district Centrum) in the last 20 years. Most of that reduced car traffic was replaced by cycling. At the same time, road safety improved and the city centre remained an attractive area for commerce and tourists.”  [4. Lange, p. 10]

30% for cycling

This is not surprising given that 30% of the central mobility fund was used to support cycling from 2012 to 2016. Another 7.9% was shared between bicycles and pedestrians, and 17% was spent on public transport. But as the central mobility fund represents only 15% of the transport budget of central Amsterdam: „This doesn’t mean that less money is spent on car projects than on projects for bikes. Projects for cars and public transport are largely paid for from other sources than the mobility fund. Thus the total budgets for cars and public transport exceed those for bikes and road safety enormously.” [5. Lange, p. 9]

[6. And here she also gives us more information about the projects Amsterdam invested in: „Some examples of projects that are paid by the mobility fund:

Bicycle projects:

– A new tunnel for cyclists and pedestrians under central station, costs about 10m., opening in 2015

– A new connection crossing the Noordhollands kanaal, costs about 7m., opened in 2013

– Bicycle parking at Leidseplein, costs about 20m., opening in 2020

– Exploitation of the ferries crossing de river IJ, about 7m./year

– Exploitation of bike parking, nearly 9m./year

Road safety projects:

– Road safety programs: 1m./year

– Solving black spots and red routes, 2,2m./year

– Road safety policy, 0,3m./year

Public transport (PT) projects:

– Contributions to the construction of several fast PT lines

– (Contribution to) a new bus station in Amsterdam Noord, 5m., opening in 2017

– Dynamic information system for PT, 3,2m.

Car projects:

– Contribution to a new car tunnel, 4m.

– (Contribution to) new car connection, 2m.

– Campaign about accessibility, 0,8m.

– The costs of new Park+Ride, 13,6m., are paid from a different source than the mobility fund”]

No attack on car drivers

What Amsterdam pursues is a more efficient and socially just distribution of public space. Their policies are not designed to simply attack car drivers. Rather, the intention is much broader : „By making car parking expensive, and at the same time offering good alternatives, more people will choose to come by bike, public transport or Park+Ride. This prevents congestion and thus allows cars that really need to be there to effectively reach their destination. The revenue of paid parking invested in alternatives for urban car traffic is well spent.” [7. Lange, p. 8]

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