Resiliency and imagination; a post-pandemic plan.

Harry Delgado, CAPP, ED.S.

We are a parking authority in the City of New Brunswick, N.J. (NBPA). Pre-pandemic, we experienced the highest occupancy rates, with garages and surface lots running full and a thriving valet business. New Brunswick is the county seat serving court staff, jurors, county employees and a regional hospital.

During lockdown, we phased out 65 percent of our staff. Only a core of parking services attendants and supervisors remained on site. We pivoted to virtual and began to identify equipment, systems, and processes to maintain operations and develop a post-pandemic plan.

Our parking services department has a functional 24/7 communications center, equipped with cameras, two-way communications, electronic car counters, alert monitoring systems and other technology. As the organization is the hub to oversee and manage our nine garages and surface lots, we added tools for parking services attendants (PSA) to assist customers more effectively and efficiently from within the communication center. This included investing in LPR cameras at all our garages to help capture owner vehicle information to follow up and collect fees for lost tickets, ticket validations issues, etc. We also began vending the gate for these events rather than dispatching a PSA, tasking an already depleted staff. Additionally, we revised the meters and pay stations collections schedule to target the higher revenue zones and alternate others; redirected inventory; restricted access or closed spaces; and deactivated meters and pay stations to reduce connectivity charges, cleaning, maintenance and labor costs.

These initiatives during the pandemic have become an integral part of our post-pandemic plan. We challenged ourselves to think strategically with eyes on the futureā€”a future that will strike a better balance between the integration of technology, systems, processes, and labor force. Ironically, the pandemic became a tragic opportunity to reflect and improve both as individuals and as professionals in the New Brunswick Parking Authority.