There are dozens of reasons why driving in Seattle is a pain: The seemingly constant traffic jams, the five-way intersections that defy common sense and, of course, parking.
A new study from Kirkland, Wash.-based transportation analytics company INRIX shows that time spent on finding parking in Seattle costs drivers more than just a few premature gray hairs — it also costs drivers a combined $490 million every year in wasted time, fuel and emissions.
The study found that the average Seattle driver spends 58 hours every year looking for parking in the city’s core, within one mile of the city center. That costs each driver $1,205 a year, on average.
And that number is unusual for a city of Seattle’s size. Even though it was one of the smallest cities included in the study, it was the fifth most expensive city for drivers in regard to time and money spent on finding a parking spot, ranking above much larger metropolitan hubs like Chicago, Boston and Dallas.
The most expensive city was New York, where drivers are hit for an average of 107 hours of searching per year, or $2,243 in annual search cost. Los Angeles and San Francisco took second and third place, costing drivers 85 hours or $1,785, and 83 hours or $1,735, respectively. Washington D.C. came in fourth at 65 hours or $1,367.
The parking problem hits urban centers much harder than suburban or rural areas. The average time spent looking for parking across the U.S. was 17 hours, and the average cost per driver was $345. That still adds up to an annual cost of $72.7 billion nationally.
INRIX also found that Americans waste more than $20 billion annually on overpaying for parking. And of the 6,000 U.S. drivers surveyed for the study, 63 percent said they avoided driving somewhere due to parking challenges.
“Our country’s parking pain has widespread impact – on drivers, cities, the economy and the environment,” INRIX Senior Economist Bob Pishue said in a press release on the study. “Thankfully, it’s a problem that can be improved through education, technology and partnerships.”
INRIX is developing such technology, as the company is working on a variety of transportation data and services for both the private and the public sector. It inked a deal to provide traffic data to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration just last month. The company also just installed a real-time parking feature in BMW sedans.