Parking in Seoul's employer-based TDM program
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Brief summary of this reform
Implementing paid workplace parking is the most common TDM action taken by employers under Seoul’s employer-based TDM program. A smaller number of employers abolish employee parking altogether under the program.
Why should you care?
This case suggests that it may be feasible for more governments to take steps to encourage employers to implement paid workplace parking.
Key actor type
City of Seoul
mode shift or TDM
Proposed by the Seoul Development Institute (currently the Seoul Institute) in 1993. Implemented by relevant agencies of Seoul Metropolitan Government.
Is it a model or a warning?
Main parking category
Main parking paradigm shift
Unknown or unclear or not applicable or other
Adaptive Parking thrust
P: Price parking in the right ways and with the right rates for each place and time
Goals of the reform
The goal is reduced use of single-occupant car travel to work for congestion and pollution benefits.
Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)
Seoul faced a huge surge in car ownership from the mid 1980s. Before that time, South Korea had kept car ownership extremely low as part of an economic strategy that discouraged household consumption. By the early 1990s, traffic congestion was at crisis levels and prompted urgent action. This came just as the country democratised after decades of autocratic government. Seoul Development Institute (now Seoul Institute) looks to California's TDM policies as a model.
Detailed description of the reform
Adopting workplace parking fees for employees is the most common TDM action taken up by employers under Seoul’s voluntary employer-based TDM program. Of 912 TDM-participating employers in a study sample of employers, 430 or 47.1% adopted paid employee parking (Ko and Kim, 2017). Most of these were office-based employers.
A smaller number (86 out of 912 in Ko and Kim's study) of employers in the program abolish employee parking altogether. This is done mostly by commercial (retail) employers, many of them in the main central business district, according to Ko and Kim.
Installing a parking guidance system is also part of the TDM program (but this is expensive for employers and has had very low adoption.
Other, non-parking TDM measures available under the program include: no-drive days based on license plate numbers; encouraging bicycle use; free employer-provided commuter buses; employer-provided taxi service; and transit-day campaigns.
The TDM program is voluntary for private-sector employers but is incentivized by offering discounts on the annual traffic impact fee. The TDM is compulsory for many public-sector employers. According to Seoul Solution: "As of 2015, some 23.2% of the facilities subject to the ‘TDM program for companies’ have got involved in the system."
Results or impacts
Along with Seoul's many other efforts, including large investments in public transport, the TDM policies have seen some success. For example, according to Seoul Solution: "Since the implementation of the TDM policy in various ways in the 1990s, the transport share of private cars in Seoul has fallen continuously while the share of public transport has risen steadily from 61% in 2004 to 66% in 2014, consequently increasing the average travel speed on major and downtown roads. In the early 2000s, the average travel speed in downtown Seoul was 22.4 km/h, rising to 26.4 km/h by 2013. A similar phenomenon has been observed in the outskirts of Seoul and on major arterial roads."
Sources and acknowledgements
Seoul Solution, "Reduction of Car Travel: Transportation Demand Management (TDM)",
Ko, Joonho & Kim, Daejin, 2017. "Employer-based travel demand management program: Employer’s choice and effectiveness," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 1-9.
17 Mar 2021