Question

Kayla: Many people are reluctant to shop in our neighborhood because street parking is scarce. The city plans to address this by adding parking meters with time limits that ensure that parking spaces are generally available. But this plan will surely backfire—shoppers dislike paying at parking meters, so most will probably drive to other neighborhoods to shop at malls with free parking.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

The Story

Kayla: Many people are reluctant to shop in our neighborhood because street parking is scarce.

Kayla gives a deterministic reason for why many people do not prefer to shop in her neighborhood. The fact that people do not easily find a space to park on the street makes them not likely to shop in the neighborhood.

The city plans to address this by adding parking meters with time limits that ensure that parking spaces are generally available.

The city plans to solve the problem (reluctance of many people to shop in the neighborhood) by fixing the parking scarcity by instituting time limits on parking through parking meters. (Since there will be time limits, the duration of time a car is parked will reduce, making space available for more cars and thus reducing the reluctance of people)

But this plan will surely backfire shoppers dislike paying at parking meters, so most will probably drive to other neighborhoods to shop at malls with free parking.

Here, Kayla goes against the plan of the city. Kayla says that the plan will backfire i.e. instead of increasing the number of shoppers in the neighborhood, the plan will reduce the number. Why does she think so? Because shoppers dislike paying at parking meters. So, she argues, most shoppers will drive to other neighborhoods to shop at malls that provide free parking.

Gist: Many people do not prefer to shop in the neighborhood because street parking is not ample. The city plans to add parking meters with time limits to address this. The author believes the plan will backfire (conclusion) since shoppers dislike paying at meters and will thus drive to other neighborhoods’ malls with free parking (support).

The Gap

Even though the plan will likely reduce the scarcity of the street parking, Kayla thinks that the plan will backfire. So, according to her, the number of people who are going to come because of availability of parking space now is going to be less than the number of people who are not going to come because of the paid parking. Why would this happen? Kayla states a dislike for paying for parking in absolute terms, but does not compare the dislike with the like for the convenience of ample available parking. What if although many people dislike paying for parking, even more people are willing to pay given the convenience of ample parking? 

The Goal

The question stem asks to find a rebuttal of Kayla’s argument by a proponent of the city’s plan. A proponent of the city’s plan could argue that more people will come because of the availability of the street parking than will not come because of paid parking.

The Evaluation

(A) Correct. This option is in line with what we predicted. The option compares two things in terms of how much they are disliked by most shoppers:

  1. Hunting for scarce street parking spaces
  2. Paying for metered parking spaces

The option says that most people dislike (1) much more than they dislike (2). So, clearly, if you remove (1) and bring (2), most people are going to prefer the change and are more likely to come to our neighborhood. Thus, this option gives a reason why the city’s plan would work.

(B) Incorrect. This option talks about an alternate plan that could address the scarcity problem. The argument, however, is that the given plan will backfire and not whether the city could implement an alternate plan. 

(C) Incorrect. This option has no relevance to Kayla’s argument. What proportion of people go to malls in other neighborhoods or how frequently they go has no impact on Kayla’s argument. Her argument is that whatever the current proportion or frequency, the proportion or frequency will increase if paid parking is introduced.

(D) Incorrect. This option, to an extent, supports Kayla’s argument in a way that since there is already a paid parking lot, why do we need to make street parking paid? People who care so much about easily available parking space can park at the paid parking lot, where the chances of available parking space are higher.

(E) Incorrect. This option talks about the malls with free parking in other neighborhoods. These malls have no parking time limits to ensure that parking spaces are available. So, there is no surety that a parking space will be available in these malls. 

Just ’cause there’s no surety doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. Right? We are not ‘sure’ that we’ll score a 720; but this doesn’t mean that our 720 is not going to happen. Similarly, no surety that parking spaces will be available doesn’t mean that parking spaces will not be available. Parking spaces may well be available in abundance; it’s just that there is no surety.

For our discussion’s sake, let’s say that parking spaces are indeed not always available or are scarce at these malls too. How does that impact Kayla’s argument? It has no impact since Kayla’s point was that many people are comfortable with scarce parking but are not comfortable with paid parking. So, even if there is scarce parking at other malls, people are still going to run away from paid parking toward scarce parking. Thus, Kayla’s point will still hold.

Additional Notes

SC Notes: The use of ‘this’ in the second sentence without a noun following it. ‘this’ refers to the entire first sentence. Contrary to popular belief, this usage is correct. Try this official SC question.

Also, note the use of two ‘that’ very close by: “that ensure that”. A construction doesn’t become wrong just because there are two ‘that’ close by.

This solution was created by Anish Passi and Chiranjeev Singh.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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