Tag Archives: time management

‘Tis the Season…for More EVs.

‘Tis the Season…for More EVs.


By Rachel Yoka, CAPP, LEED AP BD+C

The US Forest Service recently announced a new pilot program in Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, in which the Forest Service EVs delivered Christmas trees from the Huron-Manistee National Forest for families in Detroit.  Much of our industry’s focus has been on how to properly deploy charging infrastructure to serve patrons. Less is known about how to properly utilize fleet EVs.

The 12-month pilot will determine barriers, impacts, and outcomes through weekly surveys to collect feedback on day-to-day field operations. The surveys will tally how vehicles were used, weather conditions, road types, maintenance issues, and staff perception. Our industry’s frontline personnel are utilizing electric fleet vehicles more widely, although in more dense and urban environments, but the strategies employed by the Forest Service could prove useful for IPMI members and the industry.

There’s a whole lot more involved in EV charging programs than plugging vehicles in and ensuring that vehicles are maintained properly.  How are you monitoring and collecting information on EV vehicles and fleets utilized by your organizations. Proactively gathering data on how EVs fare in day-to-day operations creates yet another opportunity for our industry to share critical information on larger-scale deployments and how to best prepare for an electrified future.

Rachel Yoka, CAPP, LEED AP BD+C, is IPMI’s Chief Strategy Officer. She can be reached at yoka@parking-mobility.org.

Do Less

By Rachel Yoka, CAPP, LEED AP BD+C

Change is hard (at least in my house). Daylight Savings time is the worst.  A few years back, it dawned on me that the entire experience of springing ahead (like that’s a positive thing) put the whole family into a tailspin.  Falling back was no better on us.  We didn’t really have the choice to opt out of the entire process, but we did have options: Accept it and roll with the punches, or adapt, change, and do what we could to improve the experience.

So we declared two new family holidays. Each year, the Monday post-springing ahead and falling back, we opt out. (I have another policy about opting out of lots of other things–email me if you’d like templated and tested language that works in 99.9 percent of situations.) We opt out. The kids get a free pass on school, I take the day off.  We sleep in and start to adjust.  We DoorDash whatever we all want.  We tread lightly, and hopefully, with a greater kindness for each other.  We do less that day and that week. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

The idea of doing less seems almost heretical to our professional and personal mindsets. But hear me out: we all have limited time.  (To really dig in, I highly recommend Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman.  Yes, most of us only get about 4,000 weeks. It’s a shock to the system.)  That said, it is your choice to do in that limited time the things you really want to do.  Doing less creates white space–quality space, time, and resources to focus on and dedicate to what matters most to you, your family, and your work team.  Occasionally opting out actually allows you to opt in to the more important things.  And if you need to opt out of Daylight Savings too, I’ll be happy to write you a note!

Rachel Yoka, CAPP, LEED AP BD+C, is IPMI’s vice president of program development.


The Art of Delegation

By Jennifer Tougas, PhD

I had a meeting with a colleague the other day. It was pretty easy to see that she was stressed out to the max. She was essentially doing the job of three people thanks to layoffs and job reassignments, and it was catching up with her. She has the kind of personality that wants everything to be perfect and feels personally responsible to do things so it’s all perfect. I recognized myself in her, as I have been accused on more than one occasion of being on the OCD, control freak, perfectionist side of things.

I shared this thought with her this morning. There is only one you and there are only 24 hours in the day. In addition to work, you have responsibilities at home, to children, spouses, pets, households, parents, etc. You also have to remember to take time to care for yourself along the way. And if you’re spread too thin, you run the risk of doing things badly, which makes you feel awful because you’re a perfectionist.

So recognize, because time is limited, that you’ll need to choose wisely how to spend that time. As you look at your task list, ask yourself, “Is it more important for this to get done?”, or, “Is it more important for this to be done by ME?” Delegate all of those “more important to get done” tasks to the talented people around you so you can spend time on the “more important for ME to do” tasks.

Delegating has the added benefit of engaging the people around you and using their talents, too. And it’s OK if they do things differently than you would–they are not you. Unless it’s absolutely wrong, let it go! If there is an opportunity to coach them up a bit so that next time, feel free. Just don’t redo it from scratch yourself. That defeats the purpose of delegating the task to begin with.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by what lies ahead, ask yourself, are there some talented people around me who can help?

Jennifer Tougas, PhD, is director of parking and transportation services at Western Kentucky University and a member of IPI’s Board of Directors.


The Parking Professional: Inside the Minds of Parkers

Research says there’s plenty of parking but drivers disagree. Here’s what a new survey says about that dichotomy.

By Devorah Werner

It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon at the University of Tennessee and the college football 18-09 Inside the mind of Parkersteam is gearing up to play. You can feel the ener­gy in downtown Knoxville as the streets fill up, typically with more than 100,000 visitors eager to watch the game at the stadium or at local bars. A few of the downtown garages fill up quickly, almost within mo­ments. And then, nothing. Several other garages downtown, well situated and with myriad spots available remain virtually empty. And drivers circle and circle, frustrated at not being able to find a spot where they’d like one.

Why do some lots fill up quickly while others remain unnoticed? How much time are people wasting looking for parking? Do people avoid certain areas because they don’t think they’ll find parking? How does that affect local businesses and events? Would better access to parking availability data make a difference in people’s mindsets?
We set out to discover what goes on in the mind of parkers with an omnibus survey of 1,000 randomly selected drivers from across the country.
Here’s what we discovered:

There’s Nothing out There
There seems to be widespread feeling, despite many studies to the contrary, that there simply isn’t any­where to park. More than three quarters (76 percent) of respondents to the survey said they avoid traveling to certain areas because of a perceived lack of parking.
But apparently spots do exist. Studies of the pleth­ora of available parking across the U.S. often lament a world of excess. One study estimated as many as eight parking spots for every car in the U.S., and some cities such as Houston, Texas, are said to have 30 per resident.

Yet people think there isn’t anywhere to park.
Wade Roberts, manager of parking services for the city of Knoxville, provides firsthand evidence of this dichotomy. He manages eight parking garages in down­town Knoxville and says, “People visit downtown and pack into two of our garages. Everyone then becomes frustrated with the perceived lack of available park­ing.” And that’s with six lots sitting empty.

But his anecdotal evidence is even more telling. Roberts lives in the suburbs of Knoxville and says almost everyone he meets tells him they “avoid down­town because they don’t want to deal with parking.”

Knoxville seized the problem by the horns and in­stalled a parking counting system at one of the city’s garages to test what would happen if drivers could see parking availability data clearly displayed. A sign at the entrance of the garage lets drivers know how many spots are available, which is particularly helpful at un­derutilized garages.

The pilot project was deemed a success as drivers learned when it was worth entering the garage and when to search elsewhere. The city is now installing the same system in three more downtown lots, with the goal of countering the fear of downtown parking.
This phobia of downtown parking does more than just frustrate suburbanites. It negatively affects local businesses, city revenues, and growth potential.

Increasing parking availability data has the power to reverse that by bringing people back to downtown areas as they become aware that spots do exist and can be surprisingly easy to find.

The outcome of better parking guidance in down­town areas can be exponential for cities as profits increase for shops and restaurants, more businesses become interested in investing in downtown lo­cations, and increased job availability helps grow local economies.

Wasted Time
Of the 1,000 drivers surveyed, 15 percent attest to spending more than 30 minutes each week looking for parking. That’s a minimum of 26 hours a week of wast­ed productivity per person or an aggregate sum of more than 3,900 wasted hours every single week.
Those hours spent in search of a spot also trans­late into increased emissions and congestion on local roads—a blight on the environment and traffic pat­terns. The experience of wasting time searching for spots also leads to the added cost of the frustration drivers experience and the effect it has on the rest of their day, including their work productivity and inter­personal relationships.

If spots were indeed unavailable, these wasted hours would be a necessary evil. But what about when they are?

While this is likely the case in cities, universities, and shopping centers across the U.S., Baylor University in Waco, Texas, provided some firsthand evidence of how wasted that time really is. The university boasts 11,000 parking spaces across five student garages but was con­stantly fielding complaints of insufficient parking.

How hard can it be to find a spot in a college with 11,000 of them?
Apparently harder than you might think.
For students struggling to get to class on time, driv­ing into a garage, circling each area, and then having to leave the lot without finding a spot is indeed a waste of valuable time. While the administration could clearly document sufficient parking, student experience clear­ly evidenced insufficient parking.

In truth, both experiences were valid. Without parking guidance directing students to where spots were available, the plethora of parking was nearly use­less and, at best, inefficient.

For Baylor, simply installing a parking guidance system helped eliminate a lot of that wasted time. When a lot is full or almost at capacity, students can see that information displayed. The data allows them to make the choice to bypass one lot and move on to another with more available parking.

Matt Penney, director of parking and transportation at Baylor, found that the stress and frustration stem­ming from wasted time was virtually eliminated once the university turned to parking guidance. Not only did complaints stop but, he says, “I started getting texts from students [about the variable message signs dis­playing spot availability] saying things like ‘that sign is awesome’ and ‘that sign is a winner.’”

Baylor students also put their money where their mouths are—while the school initially funded a park­ing counting system at one of the campus garages as a pilot program, the student government used $20,000 in discretionary funds to help fund systems at three more of the university’s garages.

Public Transportation
When thinking about parking, local road congestion and time wasted searching for spots are what usually come to mind. But highway congestion and the colossal waste of time it creates are almost a thing of legend in some areas of the U.S.

The Washington, D.C., region is notorious for its endless commuting time. It consistently ranked as having some of the highest levels of congestion in the country. D.C. drivers spent an average of 63 hours stuck in traffic last year. That’s two and a half days just sitting behind the wheel, waiting to get to work or back home. The obvious solution is increas­ing the use of public transportation.

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is a joint project of the D.C. region and the Commonwealth of Virginia, aimed at reducing peak period congestion with commuter trains. When the VRE was first introduced in 1992, it averaged around 3,000 users a day. Two summers ago, the average ridership was more than 20,000 and growing.
That can be interpreted as 20,000 fewer cars on the highways commuting to and from D.C. But where did those 20,000 cars go?

Commuters may celebrate the option to avoid the daily angst of using local highways, but they certainly didn’t want to replace it with the aggravation of trying to find parking to get on the train on time.

In Boston, Mass., for example, weekday mornings see long lines of cars waiting to enter commuter lots. Some wait as long as 20 minutes for a spot. It’s not quite as long as commut­ing would be, but it’s enough to dissuade some drivers.

At the VRE, there was an acknowledgement that they couldn’t increase rail use without considering parking for commuters. Earlier this year, the VRE installed automated parking counting systems that provide real-time data to com­muters to help them assess parking availability. A mobile app provides the same live data so that drivers can check parking lot status before they even leave home. This allows them to better plan their time and avoid the frustration and wasted time of circling for a spot when there aren’t any.

Planning Ahead
People may be apt to complain about lack of parking, about wasting time, about the frustrations of looking for parking. But how likely are they to care enough to do something about it?

Pretty likely, actually.
The survey found that nearly 70 percent of respondents reported they would use an app to find parking information at their destination. People are willing and interested in doing what they can to avoid parking angst as long as cities and parking lot vendors are willing to invest in gathering and displaying that data.

Tracking and displaying real-time parking data does more than just bring passing parkers in. Having that infor­mation available lets parking lots, cities, and universities display parking data on their websites or via apps so that drivers can make better informed decisions about where to look for parking.

At the University of California, Riverside, parking data for each of five lots is displayed on the college’s website. Each lot displays the number of available spots and what the occupancy levels are. For students heading out to class, that data can make the difference between being calm and on time or being harried, stressed, and late.
For the Virginia Railway Express, parking data dis­played on the VRE mobile app and at VRE.org gives pas­sengers a head start on their commutes. With two rail sta­tions commuters can choose from, parking availability data can make a crucial difference in getting to work on time.

In Knoxville, for football fans at the University of Ten­nessee, parking data available via app means they can make more intelligent decisions about where to look for parking instead of all congregating to the same lots.

In a world where 76 percent of people avoid downtown because they think there’s nowhere to park, and people waste countless hours every year in search of parking, pro­viding real-time parking data is of inestimable value. It can improve profitability in downtown areas, help universities and public transportation run more smoothly, and improve a city’s bottom line.

Perhaps most importantly though, access to data on parking availability can make a difference in people’s mindsets about parking and help reduce everyday stress and frustration.

Read the article here.

DEVORAH WERNER is content strategist with Logixits. She can be reached at dwerner@logixits.com.