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Staffing the Park Gates

Eight years ago I blogged about a trip up to Haleakala National Park in Maui, noticing that at 9:45AM the National Park Service didn’t bother staffing the entry gate, thus not collecting the entry fee.  Presumably the variable cost of the staff time wasn’t covered by the few entrants at that early hour.

This week we made the same trip at the same early arrival time — but now the gate was staffed and a Park Service attendant collected entry fees.  The reason for the change was apparent when we reached the summit:  Even though it was early, the parking lot was nearly full. Apparently the Park Service realized that demand for entry early in the day had increased, and that it is now worthwhile (marginal revenue exceeds the marginal cost of the attendant’s time) to staff the gate earlier than before. Nice to see the federal government reacting to economic incentives!