Why is parking free on Sundays?
December 18, 2016 9:32 AM   Subscribe

In many places street parking is free on Sundays. Why?
posted by notyou to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
because on Sundays...
1. people park for church
2. the people checking if cars are properly parked are not working.
posted by jazh at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2016 [16 favorites]

What Jazh said.
posted by greta simone at 9:38 AM on December 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

In olden times it was the day everybody had off from work, went to church or similar, and then had Sunday dinner with family. So, same reason parking is free and parking restrictions are relaxed on holidays, to support family and community. Also, pretty sure the Bible and other religious texts cite Sunday as "the lord's day" so doing business on this day is/was prohibited.

And also, the guy giving tickets does not work on Sundays.
posted by jbenben at 9:40 AM on December 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I work for a transit agency. We don't charge for parking on weekends because our ridership is lower and we want to encourage riders. We also use a parking charge to control parking and encourage turnover of spaces during weekdays when parking is in higher demand. I think that is true for cities as well. We have parking officers who work 24/7 so not having enforcement is not an issue.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:46 AM on December 18, 2016 [21 favorites]

Because the US is mostly xtian and "on the 7th day god rested".
posted by brujita at 10:00 AM on December 18, 2016

Something alluded to but not said outright by others: it's not that long since most businesses (which is where parking meters are generally located) simply didn't open on Sundays, so there was no point in charging for parking. That "tradition" kept going even after the majority of businesses started opening on Sundays.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2016 [9 favorites]

My guess has always been that, since it's a day most people are off work, and some businesses are closed, there is less demand for parking on that day. Better to give the parking enforcement people the day off when there probably won't be as much to do and it's not that hard to find a parking spot anyway.
posted by Sara C. at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

So, charging for parking wasn't always a strictly rent-seeking cash grab operation. It's a way to distribute a finite resource (the spaces) to more people than the resource can serve simultaneously. When it's free, everyone wants the space. When it costs something, people have to decide if they really want it and for how long. They minimize and share better.

On Sundays, not as many people want the space anyway, so it can be free.
posted by ctmf at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2016 [12 favorites]

Where I live, parking is free not only on Sundays, but also after a certain hour the rest of the week (9pm downtown, 6pm a little farther out). As mentioned above, its really about managing a limited resource. When parking is in high demand/scarce, it costs money, when there is little demand/surplus it's free. Parking enforcement doesn't slack off though, as residential streets are the opposite (costs money to park at night via permits, no permit required during the day when the streets are empty).
posted by rodlymight at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2016

Free parking is also about encouraging consumer activity.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Free parking is also about encouraging consumer activity

It was also behind the first parking meters. When parking is free, you end up with lots of people parking for a long time. Parking meters encourage a quick turnover, which is why retailers loved the idea (at least at first, until suburban shopping malls with free parking became a thing). Since a lot of businesses are closed on Sunday (at least it used to be the case), it made sense to make parking free on Sundays. If you are interested in these issues, you might want to check out Donals Shoup's work
posted by bluefrog at 4:10 PM on December 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Another example of how parking availability and costs are used as incentives and disincentives: in Santa Monica, electric vehicles always park for free at meters. I'm not sure if l/how time limits are enforced, however. Offering free (or any) parking is a hot city planning issue now, especially in cities that want to discourage certain car trips and/or encourage people to use public transportation.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:08 PM on December 18, 2016

In one of the small California coastal cities I've lived (I truly can't remember which), the city wanted to start charging for parking on Sundays and the churches had enough of a fit that the city backed off. Since then, I've therefore assumed the rules are kept in place by churches.
posted by lazuli at 9:30 PM on December 18, 2016

San Francisco started, then stopped, charging for parking on Sundays. Churches were some of the strongest opponents. Parishioners are allowed to park in the middle of the street and in bike lanes, and churches were worried that Sunday parking meters would lead to that practice being curtailed.
posted by alexei at 11:12 PM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sydney CBD (=downtown) used to be quiet on a Sunday, and parking was free. Now Sundays are busy too, and parking is no longer free.
posted by trialex at 2:41 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

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