I’ve finally accepted that 2022 is underway, not because I have some aversion to a new year or saying Happy New Year, but because I know that there is serious work to get done. Every year seems to bring new goals, challenges, and aspirations, but most of us have had to reset so many times over the past two years since COVID-19 started that it’s tough to know what “normal” is and what we should be planning for. We keep hearing that there is a “new normal” but what does that really mean? Is it a short-term assessment with the hope that everything will magically return to pre-COVID or has society permanently been altered?
In parking and transportation, our industry was already headed toward an emphasis on technology-based solutions, and that seemingly has only been accelerated. However, with many parking and transit agencies still facing revenue reductions and having to make budget cuts, they are being forced to take a hard look at what services are still essential versus what is just something nice to provide. What bus routes remain a core need to operate even as ridership has dropped? What staffing levels are needed in garage operations and in enforcement? Is there a customer service level that you can’t fall below even when faced with reduced staffing or can changes in operations be sufficient to meet the needs of a changing customer base? Reverting to what was “normal” before 2020 does not seem to be in the cards for us.
These are all the kinds of questions we find ourselves asking as we head into the great unknowns of 2022. Whatever the answers are, there is no doubt that “normal” is a temporary state of mind.
Whatever this temporary or perhaps altered state of mind is, IPMI has some great resources for all of us in the industry to stay abreast of what is happening. Forum’s online community, the educational webinars, the monthly magazine and e-newsletters, and annual conference are all opportunities to share the changes in our jurisdiction and learn from what others are doing. Not feeling like we are on an island with the resources of the IPMI community has been so wonderful as we navigate the new normal. It’s more important than ever to keep taking advantage of it in preparing for what is thrown our way next.
Joshua Cantor, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation at George Mason University and a member of IPMI’s Board of Directors.