It’s a principle of economics that in the long run, underpricing practically anything will create a shortage. That’s what has happened at four train station parking lots in the Town of Oyster Bay — those in Bethpage, Hicksville, Massapequa and Syosset. The lots offer 6,249 spaces combined, but on typical weekday mornings, it isn’t enough.
A town proposal to charge $100 a month for a total of 852 premium reserved spots at these highest-demand lots would have raised as much as $1 million a year for the cash-strapped municipality. But it also would have worsened the parking shortage and created a surplus of rage. The town was smart to walk away from the idea this week after receiving hundreds of negative responses. Angry residents argued that the idea would give advantages to wealthy people over working-class residents and often leave needed spots empty.
Town officials say current parking permits — $10 a year in unincorporated villages, $40 a year in incorporated villages — don’t cover the cost of maintaining the lots. The fees haven’t risen since 1999 and are lower than in many other towns. In Huntington, for instance, permits are $75 a year for residents and $150 for nonresidents. Therein lies the problem worth addressing.
Oyster Bay’s permits are underpriced. The parking shortage is real, and the way to fix it is by increasing the price of annual permits for all spaces, at least at these desirable lots at these four popular stations. That way, either the price would drive people to less-popular lots or stations, reducing the shortage, or revenue from the permits would be enough to justify building more parking, perhaps with multilevel garages at the stations.— The editorial board