Enemy at the Gate?

By Michelle W. Jones, CAE, CMP

Sometimes at night I’ll watch old sitcoms. One recent evening I was scrolling the onscreen program guide, and I saw some episodes of “Frasier” coming up. In the middle of the night an episode was going to air involving a parking garage. I had to DVR it!

The episode (S10:E2), was called “Enemy at the Gate.” Frasier and his brother Niles entered a mall parking garage, took a ticket, and immediately realized they did not have time to stay, so they continued driving around the attendant’s booth and attempted to leave. Gate lowered, the attendant said, “Two dollars.” Frasier replied that no, he decided not to park, and therefore owed nothing. The attendant explained that up to 20 minutes—and any portion thereof—cost $2. They had a heated debate, including Niles offering to pay, but Frasier’s stance was one of principle: He had not parked or used a space. After some time, Frasier conceded and agreed to pay the $2 but insisted he would get his full 20 minutes worth. He sat parked at the booth and exit gate while angry customers lined up behind him. In the end Frasier’s ranting exceeded the 20 minutes, he owed $4, and he busted through the exit gate. (This response is never OK!)

Watching the episode as a parking customer, I could sort of see Frasier’s rationale regarding the payment. But as a convert to the parking profession, I understand the reason for such pricing. In April 2018, Canada’s Victoria Transport Policy Institute published  Parking Pricing Implementation Guidelines. As IPMI members are keenly aware, “Prices can be structured to achieve various objectives, such as financing parking facilities, parking and transportation demand management, and to generate additional revenues (profits).” While less than 30 seconds in a parking garage does not contribute to the pricing benefits such as improved user convenience and reduced traffic problems, it does indeed help recover parking facility construction and operating expenses.

Michelle W. Jones, CAE, CMP, is IPMI’s director of convention and meeting services.