The graphs of different colored viruses. (3d render)By Jeff Perkins

The pandemic has not only changed the world forever, but has also had a significant impact on the parking industry. In 2020, the volume of parking significantly decreased, and many of the underlying consumer behaviors related to parking transformed. Now, as parking comes back and surpasses the pre-COVID levels, the big question is: what’s has really changed?

The insights from the past 20 months give us some ideas about what we can expect in the future. Here are a few observations:

  • People are gravitating to their personal vehicles versus public transportation, putting further strain on city congestion and parking. Only time will tell if people go back to using public transit, but for now, the personal vehicle is clearly the preferred method of transportation.
  • Office buildings that used to be full five days a week now see fewer employees as companies offer much more flexibility. This has led to commercial properties rethinking how parking is allocated as companies are less willing to pay for unused spots.
  • Universities are offering much more flexibility for parking. Rather than forcing students to buy a permit for a semester, many schools are introducing a “daily decision” option, giving students the option to pay as they go.

As some of these trends continue to evolve, the parking industry will need to take a closer look at policies and technologies to ensure they are keeping up with the changes in consumer behavior. The reality is, what worked in 2019 just might not work in 2022 and beyond.

Jeff Perkins is CEO of ParkMobile.