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Whether you’re an architect, urban planner, or head of a parking department, getting advice from a parking consultant at the earliest stages of a project can really pay off.

When people enter a city, university, hospital, airport, or any other large institution, what are their critical first and last impressions? Their parking experiences. A well-designed and properly managed parking operation ensures vehicular and pedestrian safety, easy access to spaces, smooth transportation flow, maximum efficiency, sustainability, comfort, and aesthetic appeal.

From an owner’s perspective, guaranteeing that positive experience involves a myriad of complex considerations. Parking facilities are unique structures, built to withstand 50 to 75 years of use with regular maintenance, but they are vulnerable to harsh environmental conditions. Providing low-cost and consistent availability to the user requires highly technical predictions of supply and demand. Each day ushers in unforeseen challenges and decisions—new construction vs. rehabilitation, space constraints, alternative- transportation options, changing landscapes, technological improvements, and the whims of Mother Nature are just a few.

Parking is also an important planning resource and can have an effect on many land-use decisions. When managed effectively, parking can help foster safety on local roadways or on a campus; improve the quality of life for residents of a community; enhance the customer experience for people visiting airports, hospitals, or retail centers; and help promote the development and ongoing success of local businesses. When coordinated with public transit and other alternative transportation services, parking can also help promote sustainability.

Parking consultants are uniquely qualified to compile and examine the data required to make these planning decisions and to develop parking plans and programs that can help municipalities, hospitals, universities, developers, and building owners achieve successful outcomes.

Read more for some of the ways hiring a parking consultant can potentially save time and money, while reducing aggravation for years to come.