Tag Archives: TPP-2013-06-

Maximizing Change Minimizing Pain

TPP-2013-06-Maximizing Change Minimizing PainBy Garrett Coleman

Does the idea of upgrading your parking facility’s payment systems raise the hair on the back of your neck from the thought of lanes being shut down, traffic jams, issuing new monthly access credentials, and facing a complete database transfer? Upgrading a garage parking system does not have to be as challenging as one might think. A well thought-out plan and cooperation by all involved partners can make a huge difference. First, take the time to really study how the garage functions. Second, gather input from those who deal with everyday operations. Third, get opinions from customers—after all, they will be the ones to experience your changes.

The 601 Travis Garage is a premier garage in Houston. Built in 1982 and managed by Hines Interests, this parking structure consists of 2,194 parking spaces in 12 stories. It offers monthly contract parking to more than 2,300 parkers, both lease tenants of the 600 Travis office tower across the street and other customers who work in the downtown area, and 1,656 spaces are set aside for unreserved monthly parking or visitor parking charged on an hourly rate. A wide variety of validations are offered to the tenants of 600 Travis.

The Challenges
At times, it could be difficult to find a parking spot in this facility for those other than monthly contract parkers who are familiar with the layout of the garage. The original configuration added challenges and delays with throughput of traffic because of equipment layout and design. Originally laid out with a limited number of lanes for non-monthly parkers to exit, traffic flow problems existed at times. Cashiering processes could be slow and those in the queue waiting to get out became impatient. More options and more lanes for visitors were clearly needed.

The access control technology of proximity card readers contributed to slow entry and exit procedures. Validation was labor-intensive and prevented the garage from becoming fully automated. Of course, the challenges all manned cashier booth operations face contributed to more oversight labor costs.

The former system was a mixture of products from various manufacturers that were outdated, and age had taken its toll on the equipment. Operational and financial accountability required a great number of man hours to accomplish. Repair costs were very high.

Launching Solutions
Winpark Parking Management reengineered the garage using some of the latest technological solutions available to the parking industry. After several studies that accounted for traffic flow, peak time operations, manpower requirements, cost of ownership, return on investment, and other factors that affect daily operations, Winpark created an RFP for a totally new approach to running the garage.

Selecting the right business partners to introduce a new system takes time. Comparing not just the purchase price but more importantly, a reliable supplier, installer, and training program is not a fast process, but it’s one owners are wise to invest in. Managers needed to be sure that the transition was seamless, as changes would affect a wide range of users who were familiar with the old ways and would face adapting to completely new procedures.

Winpark selected WPS Parking Systems and Commercial Parking Solutions (CPS) to handle the transformation. “I understood the importance of uptime in a parking garage system and I knew I had to use a creative approach for this project to minimize any downtime” says David Culbreth, president, Commercial Parking Solutions.

The new system needed to address new technology for access and revenue control. Custom interfacing was provided that enabled Winpark to close areas of potential fraudulent abuse of garage services and at the same time, reduce manpower hours for accounting procedures; those costs were then applied to the return on investment (ROI). Implementing solutions such as AVI access control (that enabled the use of already-existing Texas Tollways AVI tags), online validations through the cloud (eliminating the formerly used, costly process of printing validation stickers), converting to pay-in-lane and credit card-only exit terminals (which eliminated manual cashier labor costs), the ability to operate 24/7, and lane equipment that had the lowest cost of ownership were all advantages of this new system.

Making it Happen
Once decisions were made, implementation was launched. CPS installed all new lane equipment adjacent to existing equipment so the existing equipment could keep operations going while its replacement was connected to the new head end system. As the new system came to life, databases were transferred, AVI readers were tweaked to optimal readability, cloud validation software was deployed to tenants, and initial training was accomplished, all of which led to a virtually seamless transition.

Installing and incorporating cameras is a no-brainer in any transition from manned cashier booths to automated systems that include validation and pay equipment around a garage. They were installed as part of this upgrade, and not only help when remote assistance is needed through intercom calls, but also provide credible records for holding vehicle owners liable for damage caused to parking equipment.

Issuing new AVI tags to those who needed them and collecting tag information from
contract parkers who already had tags from the Texas Tollways system was a continual effort during the early stages to avoid as much confusion as possible when the new system went live. Using AVI technology meant the garage could fill and empty at a much faster rate than pre-renovation, and the hands-free technology was well received by monthly parkers, especially those who already had state-issued toll road tags.

The transformation also required an extensive upgrade to the physical structure in the lanes. The old system was designed around each piece of equipment being mounted on a raised steel platform that had bollards welded in each corner. Conduits were exposed, and years of being bumped and refinished were obvious. “Replacing the metal islands was something I’d never faced in the few dozen garage installations I’d overseen. I knew we’d need to pour new, concrete islands but how do you do that and maintain a functioning garage?” asks WinPark Vice President Michael Cramer. “I envisioned a week of lost revenues and a lot of miffed parkers.”

CPS offered a solution that was almost impossible to believe. The supplier coordinated the removal of the old system, their steel platforms, and the cashier booths, and then the construction of 11 concrete islands with new 6-foot steel bollards over a three-day weekend. This required a crew of more than 20 laborers and technicians. Forming new islands, installing new bollards, securing new conduit, and pulling cabling for data all happened at the same time. Contract parkers who went home Friday arrived at work the next week to a newly-transformed garage. Workers stayed in lanes for a week to be sure the new equipment functioned properly, and customers were given printed instructions on how to use their new or existing AVI tags in the garage.

“I’ve never witnessed such a smooth transition from an old system to a completely new configuration that improved flow in the garage for visitor parking and faster, more convenient access control for the monthly parkers,” says Audrey Hollingsworth, director of sales and marketing for Winpark.

This site is now the focus of interest for a number of other locations. Finding ways to minimize the effect on operations while offering contract parkers and visitors a pleasurable experience is what parking should be all about. The garage has a new system with a long warranty and the promise of revenue increase. This project demonstrated that taking time to prepare, selecting the right partners, and paying attention to all details can make a garage system transformation go smoothly and minimize the traditional nightmares that every garage manager wants to avoid.

Garrett Coleman is a manufacturer’s representative for Worldwide Parking Solutions. He can be reached at gcoleman@wps-na.com or 713.653.3275.

TPP-2013-06-Maximizing Change Minimizing Pain

Find It Fix It Then Raise the Bar

TPP-2013-06-Find It Fix It Then Raise the Bar
By Wanda Brown

Is your parking operation riddled with staff excuses? Can’t get your employees to produce excellence? Feeling frustrated and sometimes defeated? Every parking manager has had to deal with less-than-favorable performance from frontline and administrative staff. Whether poor performance is due to motivational or training issues, it is clear there is a definite negative effect on the quality of business output required for success.

Because parking is a business, it is crucial that every aspect of running a department or operation bears in mind staff’s ability to successfully perform required tasks. It is every parking manager’s job to find the problem, fix it, and then raise the bar to promote new skills development that pushes staff towards excellence.

Find the Problem
There’s a story I like in the book Becoming a Master Manager, by Quinn, Faerman, Thompson, McGrath, and St. Clair. It is a story of the USS Benfold, a navy destroyer commanded by U.S. Navy Captain Michael Abrashoff. When Captain Abrashoff took command of the ship, he quickly discovered that she was one of the worst ships in the U.S. Navy, and her 330 crew members burst out in cheers when the outgoing captain left his command. The crew suffered from extremely low morale, retention, behavior, and performance.

To determine the cause of the problem, Captain Abrashoff switched from just telling the crew what to do to asking them questions. From individual interviews, he was able to build a trusting relationship with his crew members as he engaged them in productive dialogue about what on the ship was affecting them negatively. Through a series of questions, he was able to find out what they liked most about the ship, what they liked least, what accomplishments they were most proud of, and what changes they would make if given the chance. Though this was a serious commitment to each crew member, Captain Abrashoff was on his way to understanding their plight. His continued efforts resulted in his staff learning they had a leader who would listen and wanted to learn what was influencing them, but who also had high expectations.

It is the role of the parking manager or supervisor to do the same: establish a platform of trust with your staff while establishing performance expectations. To understand what robs a parking business of its ability to operate efficiently, one must understand its hindrances. Asking questions is essential to understanding the true nature of the problem. Often, managers and supervisors make quick attempts to fix the symptoms of a problem rather than invest the necessary time to get to the root cause. Later, they often find problems persisted because they did not delve deep enough. As in the case of Captain Abrashoff, asking penetrating questions can help obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the issue so it can be corrected.

I recently conducted individual interviews with my administrative staff to determine what would happen if their ideal workplace were achieved. The feedback was interesting. I asked the following questions:

  • If it was possible to achieve the ideal workplace, what would it look like?
  • Describe what would happen on a daily basis?
  • What would you get as a result of it?
  • What would you give?
  • How would you be thanked for a job well done?

Even though the employees never referred to our parking office as the ideal workplace, their responses indicated that we had achieved that status. However, when a different set of questions was asked regarding administrative process and staffing, a new and different problem surfaced that needed fixing—employee skills match.

In the parking office there are four critical areas of administrative duties that require a great deal of attention. They are:

  • Revenue reconciliation.
  • Payroll deducted permit fee reconciliation.
  • Citation payment reconciliations.
  • Front counter permit sales.

I reserved time every day for two weeks to observe staff performance in each function, and discovered that finding the problem was not as simple as I thought. Because human behavior can be complicated, I had to first determine what part of the problem was a people issue, and what part resulted from the administrative process.

Fix the Problem
To develop a logical approach for resolution, I began by first assessing the skills of each staff member to determine if the duties they were initially hired to do were still a skills fit, and if not, identify what duties might better compliment their current abilities. In other words, there may be employees whose skills may not be relevant for their current duties, particularly as changes in parking operations became more technical in nature. Their initial skills may not have qualified them areas that had changed.

With the assistance of Department Manager Duane Hicks, we began a rotation of administrative duties. The schedule provided each administrative staff member with the opportunity to rotate for one year in each function of the parking office. What became clear after the first rotation was that the issues stemmed from both people and process problems. For some employees, the rotation offered the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the big picture. As a result, they became better focused on the department’s expectations and were able to begin communicating that understanding in their daily contributions. We began by:

Recreating the vision
Because administrative excellence and the development of competent employees were our primary goals, we developed a vision. Words and phrases such as excellence, ownership, accountability, and no more excuses were routinely used in staff meetings and during task execution. These words erased the crutches many used to excuse themselves from being accountable for less-than-satisfactory performance. Excellence became the new vision. Asking them questions such as, “What would excellence look if it were achieved in the task of revenue reconciliation?” let staff communicate their ideas, and let the department formulate those ideas into action items.

Developing the employee
As each employee rotated into a different task function, he or she was able to develop new skill sets that were not in their primary task functions. While one employee may have performed satisfactorily in his or her initial job duties, we discovered he or she often performed with excellence in other job functions. This rotational element became our business practice for all new employees, with goals of employee retention and development of employee skills for succession planning.

The rotation schedule provided employees the opportunity to more clearly understand the interconnectivity of each task and the importance of performing every one accurately as their work passed on to the next level in the process. In the past, employee inaccuracies might cause a 15-minute task to stretch into two hours, which produced a great deal of staff resentment and frustration. Higher achievers were unable to feel a sense of pride in the work they performed because they were overshadowed by the numerous errors they had to address before they started on their own tasks.

Improving the task

While each employee had the opportunity for exposure to something different, we began to see them become invested in the efficient performance of those duties and feel accountable for the outcome as they offered suggestions for process improvements. Each rotation allowed a new set of eyes to review what was necessary to achieve excellence and what hindered it in the past. This process continued until the department had achieved optimal efficiency in each task. Staff suggestions were implemented and employees were recognized and rewarded for their contributions to the forward movement and achievement of our department’s business and operational goals. A sense of pride became apparent as staff members began to encourage each other to go beyond established goals and commit to more innovative ways to task execution, resulting in improved customer service. An even greater value was realized through this endeavor: the creation and development of a strong, cohesive team.

Creating a pool of competent backup
While employees gained new skills and became more intrinsically motivated by a job well done, a backup pool of competent employees who could step in at a moment’s notice to perform any task required was created. Each function now had a specific person designated as backup. Little did we know that this pool creation would become a great motivator for staff.

After realizing all of the benefits the rotational opportunity provided, we made the decision to leave employees in those job duties that offered skills matches. Employees who had struggled with satisfactory performance now exceeded expectations. It was time for the rotations to end and for each person to settle into job functions for which they were best suited. Our employees took ownership for the quality of their output while focusing on meeting the department’s goals and objectives. This was something we had worked hard for years to achieve.

Raise the Bar
The time had come to raise the bar. As new structures were built and new technology was installed, staff had to learn how to operate the new software and understand its technical options to promote continued efficiency. The installation of photovotaic panels, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, a wayfinding system, license plate recognition (LPR) systems, and a cashiering station all provided new experiences and the opportunity for increased levels of competence. Raising the bar has not only become a source of personal excitement, but continues to strengthen the pursuit of innovative ideas and foster the development of critical thinking among our frontline staff. Tasks that were once performed manually are now achieved through networked information systems that provide essential data for business decision making. Having quick access to this data has afforded frontline staff the ability to provide excellent customer support and effectively find solutions for patient, visitor, faculty, and staff issues.

Finding the problem was a great achievement and fixing it produced new operational efficiencies, but raising the bar has become a real motivator as staff take great pride in what they produce, present, and pass on to others.

Plato stated, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” We saw the desire of our employees to be their very best. Once they were given the opportunity to understand the connectivity between functions and the effects their unsatisfactory performance had on others, they decided to rise to the occasion and perform excellently with the increased competence they achieved through the rotational process.

Today, I have the distinct pleasure of working with one of the greatest frontline administrative teams I’ve seen in 15 years of managing staff. They have become invested in not only their own success, but that of their co-workers as they support each other emotionally and professionally. This endeavor not only strengthened the work relationship, but has been the catalyst for the development of friendships outside of the workplace. I guess Ghandi was correct when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see.”

Rotating staff in the various functions became that change agent that assisted our staff in seeing what could be possible. I am grateful they decided to make that change a sustainable one.

Wanda Brown is assistant manager, parking & transportation services at the University of California Davis Medical Center. She can be reached at wanda.brown@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu or 916.734.8117.

TPP-2013-06-Find It Fix It Then Raise the Bar

Hands Free Heaven

TPP-2013-06-Hands Free HeavenBy Mark Wright

Whoever created the old “God is my co-pilot” bumper sticker was ahead of his time. Today, a lot of companies are praying that drivers will accept a future in which vehicles are piloted by technology instead of by humans. Whether drivers will find such a future heavenly remains to be seen.

As Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, LEED Green Associate, Republic Parking System general manager, observed in his Parking Matters® Blog (blog.parking.org) post on the driverless vehicle trend in February, “Questions from parking professionals are numerous, from how this will work in a controlled environment, how to stop it from parking in reserved spaces, protocols for an accident, and what happens in the always-humorous standoff situations.”

Let’s add another question to that list: “Why even bother?” For those of us who love the smell of a steering wheel in the morning, who remember driver’s ed as a rite of passage, and who enjoy pretending our airbag-equipped Subaru is a 1970 Jaguar XKE, this whole feet-off-the-pedals thing is a little surreal.

Besides, we humans do a decent job of operating motor vehicles. Don’t we? Surely, we must have improved enough since the automobile’s infancy to be entrusted with its operation indefinitely—except maybe for cell-phone talkers, text-message tappers, eyeliner appliers, open-container sippers, railroad-crossing crossers, and other assorted attention-impaired characters.

Well, for historical perspective, let’s check out a book penned way back in 1940 by Norman Belle Geddes (who also designed the Futurama ride in the General Motors Pavilion at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, which featured an electric driverless vehicle). His book, Magic Motorways, is amazingly foreshadowing—and a hoot to read—lo these many decades later.

Geddes wrote that while all manner of improvements had been made to motor vehicles by 1940, the driver remained entirely unimproved: “His eyesight is no better, he reacts no faster, he doesn’t think any better, he gets drunk just as easily, he is just as absent-minded.”

A driver in 1910 traveled no faster than a runaway horse and faced virtually no traffic congestion, he wrote, “Yet even then he had troubles in handling his vehicle. Today the situation is far worse, because he is still the same human being, and yet he has to handle both increased traffic congestion and increased speeds.”

Here’s the part that autonomous vehicle advocates will really like: “No two drivers can be counted upon to behave alike. … Human nature itself, unaided, does not make for efficient driving. … Even when the driver is in full command of the situation, concentrating his whole attention on the highway and the problems of driving, he cannot act instantaneously.”

Leaving aside the disagreements that today’s New Urbanists and historic preservationists would likely have with Geddes-esque motorway planning, the guy’s conclusions about what engineers call “the human factor” remain, annoyingly, spot-on. And therein lies the unsolved challenge facing vehicle visionaries of any era: If we seek safety and efficiency in our transportation and parking systems, how do we eliminate driver error?

Answers range from the minimalist (tweak automotive technology to help drivers do a better job) to the radical (automate driving and turn the human into a passive passenger). While real-life motor vehicle design has long tended toward the former, we’re closer than ever to the latter becoming a viable option.

Long History
Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles have lived on drawing boards, run laps around test tracks, and snuck out onto public highways for experimental drives for decades. (Thanks to Google’s efforts, a lot less sneaking will be needed. The company persuaded Nevada to become the first state to allow legal trial runs of autonomous vehicles on its public roads; legislation was passed in 2011, and the resulting regulations were approved in February 2012. California and Florida followed suit. Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington had legislation pending as of February 2013.)

The R&D history could fill an encyclopedia, so consider this the Readers Digest version. The U.S. government conducted driverless vehicle research in the 1980s, as have various universities and agencies since then; the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has sponsored a number of autonomous vehicle races dubbed DARPA Challenges. Automakers including Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo, and, yes, Google, have been pioneering serious advances in the concept and its components for years, with some notable prototypes appearing in the 1990s.

The 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured the most recent iterations from Audi and Toyota. Both companies, however, were shy about using the word “driverless” in the present tense.

“Driverless vehicles are not ready for prime time and there is a lot of work to be done,” says Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight. She says the modified Lexus LS 600h hybrid (dubbed an “Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle”) displayed during CES is only a test platform and not a vehicle they plan to sell in its present form. All sorts of questions and regulatory hurdles have yet to be addressed, she says, including parking-related issues.

Audi prefers to describe its technology as a package of “driver assistance systems” that enhance convenience and safety. As a spokesperson explained during CES, “Assistance systems are rapidly increasing in importance. In the near future, we will see systems that are able to assume the complete driving task for a limited period of time if so desired by the driver. Audi refers to this concept as piloted driving.”

Whatever their names, taken together, the aim of various carmakers’ systems boils down to some simply-stated objectives: make the car hyper-aware of its surroundings; make it react to changes in those surroundings when the driver does not; and build on existing systems (such as cruise control) to extend their capabilities.

Thus Audi speaks of features such as “adaptive cruise control” (which can come with or without a Stop & Go function), “active lane assist,” “side assist,” “night vision assistant,” “park assist,” “camera-based speed limit display,” “pre sense front, pre sense rear, and pre sense plus,” and others.

Nissan is testing a system to enable a vehicle to detect instances when its human driver fails to notice or react to another vehicle or a pedestrian in its path and automatically steer clear of the danger (also checking to see if the adjacent lane is safe to swerve into). Cadillac’s SuperCruise system—which automates control of acceleration, braking and steering so the driver can let go of the wheel—could (no guarantees) become a consumer reality for the 2014 model year.

Audi, BMW, Ford, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota/Lexus also have auto-park models. Some are demos while others are commercially available.

“We are just seeing a glimpse of how connected vehicles will impact parking,” says David Cummins, senior VP and managing director of parking at Xerox and co-chair of IPI’s new Smart Parking Alliance (see p. 50 for more on this). “Aside from bumper sensors that help you pull into a parking space, most of the technology assisting parking today is on smartphones. That will change as the vehicles themselves become more intelligent. Vehicles will not only tell us how to get from point A to point B, they will also take us to an open space and pay the parking fare. Smart Parking will be taken to the next level with smarter cars. Imagine a parking experience that requires little to no driver input.”

Indeed, IPI’s Emerging Trends in Parking report (parking.org/trends) identified several advances that could one day interact with autonomous vehicles:

  • Use of mobile apps.
  • Improved traffic management through wireless sensing devices and mapping devices in cars that show parking locations.
  • Parking access control using license plate recognition cameras and software.
  • E-payment via smartphones (or credit cards with an electronic chip on the subscriber identify module (SIM) card).

“Automation and the Internet of Things will play a fundamental role in the future of parking,” says Kelly Schwager, chief marketing officer at Streetline, Inc. “Whether it is parking spaces that proactively share data and speak to motorists via applications or in-car navigation systems…the ability to pay for parking automatically just by pulling into a parking spot…cars that proactively provide audible guidance to available parking based on pre-set preferences such as price or location…or a driverless vehicle that can park on its own while the driver enjoys a morning cup of coffee, it is fascinating to consider the impact new technology will have on parking even just a few years from now!”

The Bigger Picture
While driverless cars attract the red-carpet spotlight these days, they’re actually part of a larger autonomous-vehicle trend. Automated transit networks (aka personal rapid transit or PRT) are starting to proliferate, says Shannon Sanders McDonald, AIA, assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and author of The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form.

For example, PRT systems are operating in London (Heathrow Airport), Masdar City (Abu Dhabi), Suncheon Bay (South Korea), Capelle aan den Ijssel (Netherlands), and Morgantown, W.V. Amritsar, India, has also been planning a system. The expansion of automated transit networks hints at changes in store for parking.

“The parking garage is the most important building type of the 20th century, and I believe it will continue to be at the cutting edge, shaping our future,” says McDonald. “When you take a step back and look at how mobility interacts with the built environment, how land use choices facilitate or impede humans’ ability to get where they want to go, you start to see all kinds of synergistic possibilities. For example, driverless cars could interface with parking facilities to help you seamlessly connect with automated transit networks, and these mobility devices will eventually merge in some dense locations.

“Since a driverless car could let its occupants out at the parking entrance and then go park itself, the garage would have no pedestrians in it, which means it could be configured very differently,” she says. “That opens up new architecture and design options.”

Experts say parking professionals can likely anticipate no required major renovations to accommodate driverless vehicles. “We are confident our cars will have all of the sensors and processing power to accomplish piloted garage parking without sensors in the garages themselves,” said Audi of America, Inc. Corporate Communications Manager Brad Stertz. “Where those garage sensors may be beneficial in the future is for functions like detecting specific parking spaces that can be reserved in advance as they become available. Other cars may need the sensors, but we are proceeding with the approach that they should be on the car to avoid waiting for the uncertain timing of infrastructure upgrades. We utilized sensors in the garage for our CES demonstration strictly as a precaution. (As for) when we would be sensor free, we’ve said most of these functions would be possible within a decade.”

Another possibility might also confront parking operators, though: A driverless car could avoid the parking garage altogether and simply go home, returning later to retrieve its owner, depending on the distances involved.

For its part, the motoring public is ambivalent about the notion of completely ceding driver control, notwithstanding its perennial frustration with traffic congestion and distracted-driver collisions. Opinion surveys by J.D. Power and Associates (2011) and Accenture (2010) indicated significant support for the concept, albeit with variations depending on age, gender, and income. A much smaller May 2012 survey by Rasmussen Reports, however, found that 38 percent of American adults “believe it is at least somewhat likely that these so-called autonomous cars will be able to operate safely on roads and highways,” but 48 percent think they won’t be safe, and 14 percent are not sure.

Comfortable or not, the future seems to be hurtling toward drivers like a dinosaur-obliterating asteroid. True autonomous motoring is years away. Recent roll-outs of automated functions are meant to gradually test and nurture driver acceptance through the incremental introduction of new technologies. Thus, we face a motoring life increasingly modified (not controlled) by technology, both on the road and in parking facilities.

Maybe one day drivers will plaster a new version of that bumper sticker on their car: “Google is my co-pilot.” But, early adopters will likely be heard uttering an urgent prayer: “Dear God…I hope this technology really works!”

Mark Wright is a freelance writer in Rockville, Md. He can be reached at mark@wrightscontent.com or 301.651.7735.

TPP-2013-06-Hands Free Heaven

The Parking Dream Team

TPP-2013-06-The Parking Dream TeamBy Kim Jackson, CAPP, and
Gary Means, CAPP

A parking monitor who smiles, calls her customers by name, and shows the patience of a saint. A general manager who rebuilt an entire municipal parking system after a devastating flood, without losing his cool or his hope. A municipal parking and transportation department that embraced technology, sustainable solutions, and customer service to shine. And a seasoned parking professional who’s known for his corporate success, tireless energy, and influence on the way the parking industry approaches municipal and institutional business.

It may sound like a parking dream team, but all of those examples are realities, and they’re all 2013 IPI Professional Recognition Program winners. Nominated by their peers and selected by a committee of industry professionals, this year’s winners exemplify the positive spirit, can-do attitude, and upstanding characteristics the industry sets as goals for its members.

The Professional Recognition Program was created by IPI to acknowledge the staff who operate, maintain, and manage parking operations, and the individuals who are changing the perception of parking as a career and profession. It honors those who exemplify excellence every day and who, through their actions, add “professional” to their job descriptions.
Without further ado, as they say, let’s meet this year’s Professional Recognition Program award winners.

Staff Member of the Year

Georgia Tate Parking Deck customers know that no matter how the rest of their day goes, they can always count on a smile from Parking Monitor Christine Eberhart. Known for her cheery disposition and commitment to outstanding customer service, Eberhart calls her customers by name, and recently won the 1,800-employee UGA Finance and Administration department Merit Award for Customer Service, which recognizes someone who “goes above and beyond the call of duty to meet customers’ needs.”

While many students can be intimidated or overwhelmed by a large university such as the University of Georgia, those who know Eberhart say she helps shrink the experience for them through her personal interactions and warm, friendly manner. She’s known for making visitors feel at home, and for brightening the days of faculty, staff, and students on campus.

One staff member recently wrote of Eberhart, “Every time I see her, she greets me with a smile and positive words of encouragement, and this always makes my day. She is willing to work with everyone that she comes in contact with. She is very patient and she always goes the extra mile to make sure that everyone in the deck is served to the best of her ability. I am grateful for her service.”

Beyond helping her customers have good days, Eberhart has also served as an example for her co-workers. Her cheery attitude is infectious and she has raised the level of performance for her entire department, acting as a catalyst that’s resulted in recognition for the department, including its selection as IPI’s 2011 Parking Organization of the Year.

Supervisor of the Year

When Jon Rouse arrived in Cedar Rapids as the new general manager of Park Cedar Rapids, the community had just faced a devastating flood: 31.2 feet of flood water covered 10.2 square miles of downtown, leaving behind an estimated $6 billion to $9 billion in damage and destroying many major public buildings.

The parking system had lost its offices, most of its 900 on-street meters, one 500-space public ramp, and many of its elevators, HVAC systems, skywalks, electrical systems, and paper documentation. Undaunted, Rouse hunkered down to approach his new job—and all its challenges—with full composure and efficiency. Known for never asking a staff member to do something he wouldn’t do himself, Rouse quickly became known as a manager who puts his people first and always acts with the highest integrity.

Since taking over as general manager, Rouse has overseen the physical rebuilding of the city’s parking system, and implemented demand-based tiered parking pricing, installed credit/debit card-enabled meters, instituted comprehensive spring and fall cleaning of all parking ramps, replaced PARCS systems on all ramps, actively participated in the lease agreement that transferred oversight of the municipal parking system to the Cedar Rapids Downtown District (now the CR Metro Economic Alliance), installed energy-efficient lighting in two downtown parking ramps to save an average 50 percent per month in utility costs, and hired and trained several new managers and coordinators in his department, among other projects and accomplishments. He is an inspiration to his staff, his clients, and the industry as a whole.

Parking Organization of the Year

The City of Perth, Australia, has taken the concepts of integrating technology and sustainability to entirely new levels, investing in its facilities to improve customer service and make city parking truly green.

City of Perth Parking (CPP) recently renovated its Goderich Street car park to incorporate state-of-the-art license plate recognition (LPR) technology, offering a ticketless payment alternative. It also developed a smartphone app that offers a real-time availability feature and tells customers how many parking spaces are available in each garage; the app was awarded the Innovation Award for Excellence by the Parking Association of Australia.

The Elder Street car park—one of the city’s newest facilities—showcases environmentally-friendly features including solar panels, rain water harvesting, automatic carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring, natural ventilation, efficient lighting, and electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities. Plans are in place to roll out these technologies at all CPP car parks in the future.

Additionally, the city has planted and is maintaining 170,000 trees from fees paid by parking customers. Another 85,000 trees will be planted in 2013 thanks to the initiative, helping reduce atmospheric carbon.

CPP has also introduced solar-powered ticket machines, a website that provides up-to-date information on all of its 33 parking facilities, a unique reconciliation process for parking payments, and technology that accounts for every cent collected, and is active in its community through events such as a Christmas parade and telethon that receives all of CPP’s parking income for a weekend.

The City of Perth has embraced its tagline of “The Greener Place to Park,” and it shows.

James M. Hunnicutt, CAPP, Parking Professional of the Year

In 2012, the IPI Board of Directors voted to re-name the long-standing Parking Professional of the Year recognition in honor of James M. Hunnicutt, CAPP, who passed away in 2012. Hunnicutt was a founding member of IPI and a pioneer in the parking and transportation field who made significant contributions to the profession throughout his life, and was himself selected as Parking Man of the Year in 1976.

The first recipient of this award is Roamy R. Valera, CAPP, who is well-known as a leading industry advocate for the professional management of municipal and institutional on- and off-street parking operations. With more than 24 years of industry experience, he’s developed a reputation as an active industry association and trade group member and advocate for public relations, customer service policies, and employee training.

Valera has participated on many IPI committees, the Advisory Council, and numerous work projects, and has developed an expertise considered indispensable by his industry peers. His many industry presentations advocate that training programs and related initiatives always focus on the daily realities of the job, and not the textbook descriptions of them. Training for frontline employees should target the communications process, he says. “If we train them to understand how communications work, we will train them to be successful under any scenario that they face on a daily basis,” he has said.

He’s also devoted considerable attention to parking facility issues. In seminars and presentations, he sets out concrete steps to address the common occurrences of vehicles making blind turns, customers walking in drive aisles and exiting into active sidewalks, tripping hazards, blind/dark areas such as stairwells and elevator lobbies, and criminal activities on parking properties. In addition, he is involved with several community and charitable programs.

He directs both the municipal and institutional services divisions for Standard Parking Corporation, and has successfully expanded the company’s operational base of municipal clients to several U.S. cities. He has had significant influence on the way the industry approaches municipal and institutional parking, and his actions personify how and why Parking Matters®.

Gary Means, CAPP, is executive director of the Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority, and co-chair of the IPI Professional Recognition Committee. He can be reached at gmeans@lexingtonky.gov or 859.233.7275

Kim Jackson, CAPP, is director, parking and transportation, at Princeton University and co-chair of the IPI Professional Recognition Committee. She can be reached at kimj@princeton.edu or 609.258.7855.

TPP-2013-06-The Parking Dream Team

Outstanding Accomplishments

TPP-2013-06-Outstanding AccomplishmentsBy Anderson C. Moore and Molly Winter

Every so often, a photo or description of a parking facility or operation can nearly take your breath away. A design, an idea, a technique, or a strategy can be so brilliant and so unusual, even it its simplicity, that it sticks in your head and you have to share it.

For many parking professionals, several of those moments cluster together right around this time of year, when the International Parking Institute (IPI) announces the winners of its coveted Awards of Excellence. Recognizing outstanding accomplishment in architectural achievement, design, rehabilitation and restoration, innovation in operations or programs, and sustainability, the Awards of Excellence have showcased the best the parking industry has to offer since 1982, sparking imaginations and furthering the parking profession through example.

Nominations are accepted on an annual basis and winners are chosen by a select panel of judges representing architects, parking consultants, and city, airport, and university officials on the IPI Awards of Excellence Committee. This year’s Awards of Excellence honorees received their honors last month at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Awards of Excellence winners exemplify the best of all the parking industry has to offer. We are excited to profile this year’s honorees on the following pages.

Best Design of a Parking Facility with Fewer than 800 Spaces
The transformation of an abandoned market building in downtown Lisbon, Portugal (Mercado Chão do Loureiro) into a modern, multi-functional, sustainable 196-space facility fully integrated the building into the local landscape.

The original structure didn’t allow for circulation between floors, so the building’s core was demolished. Its facade was left standing, and six floors of parking were achieved. Because it is located in an old neighborhood, construction was carefully planned to minimize effects on local traffic flow and allow circulation on adjacent roads.

The building offers a variety of public amenities, including a ground-floor supermarket, a floor for electric vehicles (EVs) with 32 chargers, a restaurant, a panoramic overlook on the terrace, and a solar power plant. It also plays an important role in the city’s mobility plan, offering two panoramic lifts for public use that allow pedestrian access to every floor, and from downtown to Saint Jorge Castle, which is the most visited monument in the country.

The facility acts as an art gallery for five urban artists whose works are displayed on the walls of each level. It also offers music, fragrance, and amenities that include car assistance, flat tire kits, alcohol analyzers, umbrellas, and bicycles.

An Equinsa parking system was installed that uses bar code tickets and optical readers to provide efficient revenue control; clients can use pay-on-foot machines on each floor. A fully-equipped attendance and control room on the first floor includes a CCTV security system and safe house. Aluminum grids on the facade allow natural ventilation, and natural light enters from a skylight, which reduces the need for artificial lighting.

Most clients are patrons with monthly cards, but the garage offers special prices for residents and professionals, and supermarket customers receive one-hour validated parking in the store. Clients enter on the fifth floor of the garage and exit on the first, so traffic circulates only one way (down), which reduces energy expense and pollution. Only EVs go to the sixth floor. Pedestrians can enter through four access points: the supermarket level, first floor, fifth floor main entrance, and the terrace/restaurant. Income also comes from supermarket and restaurant rent, ensuring stable and regular revenue to cover operational costs.

Best Design of a Parking Facility with Fewer than 800 Spaces
The Central Riverfront Garage, a two-level cast-in-place concrete parking structure located within the Ohio River floodplain, forms the base for Cincinnati’s new $600 million mixed-use riverfront neighborhood known as “The Banks.” Because of its strategic location adjacent to The Banks, as well as Cincinnati’s central business district, the Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds), the new Smale Riverfront Park, Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals), and several public transportation lines, the garage efficiently and sustainably addresses the riverfront’s wide range of parking needs (monthly, transient, special event, validation, and valet).

The structure is designed to support eight buildings (ranging from five to 24 stories high), several city streets, and an elevated city park. It features a simple layout: straight two-way drive aisles with 90-degree parking and clear sightlines, white ceilings and ample lighting, glass-enclosed stairways with accent lighting, unique tile designs, dedicated pedestrian walkways with bollards, and durable low-maintenance materials. Two phases are currently finished; when phase III is completed, the facility will offer 5,500 spaces and be one of the largest underground facilities in the U.S.

Revenue integrity is protected by encouraging electronic payment and minimizing cash transactions. Passive and active security are used, and a police substation is located in the building complex above.

The facility’s durability and longevity are enhanced with epoxy-coated rebar, silica fume, and corrosion-inhibitor admixtures in the cast-in-place concrete, and other materials, including stainless steel, laminated glass, galvanized steel, and tile, that can be hosed down after a flood. Sustainability provisions include HOV spaces, variable-speed fans, reduced use of Portland cement, and recycling of demolished materials. There are two four-lane lower level entry/exits and three two-lane upper level entry/exits, all of which were sized for sporting events and morning/evening commuter peaks using computer simulations. Simple, clear signage is used throughout, and stair names correspond to the street intersections above for easy wayfinding.

Funding included nine local, state, federal, and private partners.
Cost: $60.8 million

Best Design/Implementation of a Surface Parking Lot
The University of South Carolina’s new 50-acre tailgating facility has become a catalyst for neighborhood transformation. Located across the street from Williams-Brice Stadium and abutting a heavily-traveled industrial corridor, the former farmer’s market site has become a facility for Gamecock fans and for other uses as well.

Providing game day parking for more than 3,000 vehicles, the space includes a state-of-the-art tailgating facility with dedicated tent zones, cable television hookups, electrical outlets, and four restroom buildings. It is also designed to support intramural sports and civic uses, including concerts, special events, food festivals, art festivals, and other gatherings.

Development methods reduced stormwater runoff from the previously developed site by 90 percent. A tree-lined, grassy promenade funnels pedestrians into a vehicle-free zone, offering a safe connection to the stadium. The space also provides a venue for free play, the marching band, cheerleaders, and the football team.

Patrons are directed to pre-assigned spaces through placement of trees, signage, and lane striping. Non-assigned spaces are sold on a first-come, first-served basis on a large grassed open space at the rear of the site., which can be used as intramural space on non-game days.

The project used low-maintenance materials that are consistent with those used on campus. There is a relatively small number of paved spaces, with most spaces in grassed and landscaped zones. Low-impact development techniques were used, including infiltration trenches and bio-retention cells, to minimize runoff. The facility requires very little maintenance other than periodic mowing and yearly aerating; wells provide irrigation water, which further reduce costs.

Concrete and other materials that existed on the site prior to renovation were crushed and reused or sold for use elsewhere. Asphalt was milled and mixed back into the soil for support in grassed areas. Planting more than 900 tree species reduced the urban heat island effect, and the facility uses exterior pole lights with reflector shields to reduce light pollution. Solar lighting fixtures were also utilized in the restroom facilities.

Cost: $15.5 million

Innovation in a Parking Operation or Program and Excellence in Sustainability Relating to Existing Facilities

Two years ago, the City of Charlotte began to invest in the redevelopment of its curb lane assets through the rebranding, restructuring, and reallocation of various curb lane uses, policies, signage, and operation. The result—The Uptown Charlotte Curb Lane Management Program— led to a refreshed outlook on parking, enforcement, and overall day-to-day operations.

The purpose of the Uptown Charlotte Curb Lane Program is to define the efficient use of curb lane space and improve signage that communicates the uses to the public. The program aims to enhance the Uptown experience for all users of the curb lane, and includes parking space reallocation and management, loading zone policies and orientation, and signage improvements and consolidation.

During 2011 and 2012, the city implemented a pilot program along Tryon Street, which is the signature street for pedestrian, business, and community activity. After one year, 35 new parking spaces were identified through curb reallocation, citations had dropped from 954 in six months to 439 in the same period the next year, and parking meter revenue has grown.

Another aspect of the program is improved signage—signage was consolidated to eliminate duplicates, and the program adopted symbols and messages that were easier to understand. Curb spaces were allocated to specific uses and organized, making parking easier for users and offering a more efficient environment for management operations, along with more spaces for short-term parking, prioritized loading zones, and easier enforcement.

A master prioritization was adopted for curb lane management, defining how curb lanes should operate for each street type. Signature street priorities are transit operations, on-street parking, loading, and traffic capacity. Primary/secondary street priorities are transit operations, transit capacity, on-street parking, commercial loading, and passenger loading. And residential street priorities are parking for residents, transit operations on the periphery, and residential loading.

Cost: $130,000

Best Parking Facility Rehabilitation or Restoration

Built in 1967, the 90 Central Parking Avenue Deck is used for state government employee monthly parking. Located in the downtown district adjacent to Five Points business district and Georgia State University, it was constructed above historic Atlanta Zero Mile Marker and right-of-ways for the railroad and MARTA rails, adjacent to the historic Atlanta train depot and Underground Atlanta. It has seven levels and 699 parking spaces, including 19 ADA spaces on the second and third levels, along with three elevator banks.

By 2008, the garage suffered multiple issues of deterioration, including significant water intrusion, concrete rail cracks, deteriorated surfaces on an abandoned helipad, and a mural by artist Wyland that was deemed extinct. Restoration was preferred over new construction, and those took place in fiscal year 2011.

Walls were waterproofed, spalling concrete and exposed steel tendons were repaired, deteriorated steel doors were replaced, the helipad was removed, expansion joints and guardrails were replaced, deck coating was installed, striping and wayfinding were re-done, and lighting was upgraded, among many other projects.

To accomplish the restoration within the $2.8 million budget, separate contracts were awarded to three different contractors: One for structural concrete restoration; one for structural removal of exterior vertical steel members and installation of horizontal steel vehicular guard rails, with interior replacement of 6-inch pipe cast iron drainage system with CPVC, re-roof, and removal of helipad; and one for interior/exterior lighting retrofit.

Construction was accomplished during evening/night hours, allowing the deck to remain operational during the day. Contractors phased the construction and storage of materials to close only on level at a time. The project was completed in one year, with lighting finished after the main restoration project.

Cost: $2.7 million

Award for New Sustainable Parking & Transportation Facilities Excellence

Designed for maximum sustainability, the parking facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Col., is an open, five-level concrete frame with a steel roof canopy featuring a photovoltaic (PV) array. All sides of the garage are open to the elements, allowing natural ventilation throughout and precluding the need for mechanical systems. At 1,800 spaces, the facility provides convenient accessible parking spaces, 180 preferred spaces for car/vanpools and low-emitting vehicles, 36 spaces for electric car-charging stations, and the infrastructure for up to 360 total charging stations.

The structure provides four and five levels of parking in two symmetrical halves, made diverse by an additional level of parking on the eastern half. Each of the halves has interior and exterior light wells to draw daylight into the middle of the facility, ensuring that 99 percent of the structure is daylit. A weather-
protected fifth light well that is also a dedicated pedestrian circulation spine bisects the two halves and features a monumental main stair. This center zone encourages social interaction through a pedestrian gathering node that ultimately culminates in an enlarged, sheltered shuttle stop area and paved walking path to the main campus. The elevator count was consciously reduced to two, encouraging NREL’s “walking campus” while saving energy and reducing maintenance needs. Because the campus is within a migratory path, the designers specified bird-friendly glazing that deters fatal avian collisions. The north, west, and east facades are screened with cradle-to-cradle recyclable, perforated aluminum panels that limit wind, rain, and snow entering the garage while still permitting ample sunlight penetration to meet lighting goals.

The facility’s roof utilizes prefabricated steel joists and truss girders to support the PV panel canopy. The all-steel joists and girders are galvanized with bolted connections to increase component longevity. The facility is capable of generating 1.1MW of power and achieves net-zero energy use. Surplus energy from the PV array is returned to the campus grid and is instrumental in aiding two additional campus buildings in becoming net-zero as well.

By itself, the parking structure uses less than 160 KBTUs of energy per parking space per year, making the structure 90 percent more efficient than a typical garage per ASHRE 90.1 standards. Crucial to the energy savings strategy is an advanced zone-based LED lighting and control design that is connected to both daylighting and occupancy sensors, and coordinated with a parking management system. Remarkably, the structure achieves these sustainability initiatives for a cost-per-space that meets or exceeds structures of comparable size. (See the December 2012 issue of The Parking Professional for more on this.)

Cost: $25.51 million.

Architectural Achievement

The City of Fayetteville, N.C., contemplated building its first municipal-owned parking deck for more than 40 years. Despite 11 parking studies that recommended the facility, City Council did not approve its construction until 2010 due to negative public perception, lack of funding, and concern about the potential effect on the historic downtown district. Finally, a three-party financial agreement between the city, county, and public works commission (PWC) and federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds made it possible.

While it began as a controversial project, the parking deck, which draws its character from the surrounding buildings, has become a celebrated and distinctive feature of the downtown district. Designed to minimize maintenance costs, maximize service and safety, accommodate future mixed-use development, and attract downtown visitors, the facility stands as an example of the success that can be achieved through open dialogue with the community and outstanding team coordination.

The two-bay, five-level deck offers 294 spaces; PWC monthly tenants use secure parking on the top two levels, ensuring municipal revenue. Other levels are used for monthly and visitor parking. The facility was designed with a 75-year service life, using post-tensioned concrete, corrosion inhibitors, low-maintenance landscaping, and an anti-graffiti coating on the facade. Video surveillance, columns (instead of walls), and intercom systems offer security, while two-way, 90-degree parking simplifies vehicular travel paths. LED lighting provides average light levels of 6.5 foot candles, which is significantly higher than the recommended five-candle minimum, and sensors reduce operational costs.

Other design features include a card-access pedestrian bridge that spans a two-lane service drive to connect the deck’s fourth level with the PWC building’s third floor, and ground level mixed-use accommodation, with aluminum storefront to minimize future upfit costs.

A neighborhood outreach program was implemented to address concerns and misconceptions, both from citizens and the local media. Materials with highly competitive local markets, such as masonry and concrete, were made large components of the overall design to promote local jobs during construction.

Cost: $6.165 million

Molly Winter is director, management division and parking services, for the City of Boulder, Colo., and co-chair of the IPI Awards of Excellence Committee. She can be reached at winterm@bouldercolorado.gov or 303.413.7317.

Anderson C. Moore is vice president of operations with Duncan Solutions and co-chair of the IPI Awards of Excellence Committee. He can be reached at amoore@DuncanSolutions.com or 877.858.5840.

TPP-2013-06-Outstanding Accomplishments

In the Blink of an Eye

TPP-2013-06-In the Blink of an Eye By Kim Fernandez

Gina Fiandaca completed the 2013 Boston Marathon run at about 2:42 p.m. on Monday, April 15 and started making her way through the congested finish-line stations. It was, she noted later, the first year in 14 that she didn’t have family members waiting for her behind the barricades—she’d told them she’d just call after her 26.2-mile run.

Eight minutes later, she was thinking about making that call home. “I’d just gotten my medal,” remembers the City of Boston Office of the Parking Clerk director. “Things slow down at the end and you’re going from station to station. And then all hell broke loose.”

Investigation records say that the moment Fiandaca crossed the finish line, two brothers were walking towards the nearby Forum restaurant. Three minutes later, one of them dropped a backpack on the sidewalk, spent four minutes playing with a cell phone, walked away, and made an 18-second call that detonated one of two pressure cooker bombs.

“We didn’t know what exactly happened or that it was a bomb,” Fiandaca remembers, “but it was a huge explosion. We knew that something horrific had happened.”

Working from home, Ronald Ross, director of parking services, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), turned the television on and saw the smoke and chaos. “My initial thought was that the explosions were caused by a utility malfunction, and I was hoping that nobody was injured,” he says. Once authorities started using the word “bomb,” his fear turned to shock and anger. He picked up the phone and called his parking facilities manager with instructions for employees: be vigilant and be safe.

Not far away, Paul Cappadona, manager, transportation and parking, Boston College Police Department, found himself in disbelief: he’d driven under the Prudential Center—now splashed on every major network as a crime scene—not 45 minutes earlier, having spent the city holiday studying in his office. “It was surreal,” he says. “I got home and got a call from my mother, checking on me to make sure I wasn’t down there.”

The next five days were unlike anything Boston or the country had ever seen. On Monday, the brothers, identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, dropped two backpacks near the marathon’s finish line and detonated them with cell phones, killing three people and injuring 264, some grievously. Thursday night, they killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police officer before the older, Tamerlan, was killed as his sibling escaped. And Friday, the entire city went into lockdown as law enforcement personnel searched for the 19-year-old, finally pulling him out of a winterized boat in someone’s backyard.

While no one is ever prepared for something as random and destructive as a terrorist attack, parking and transportation officials in Boston say that, looking back, their training, practice, and clear procedures for emergencies offered direction and a bit of calm in the chaos that followed the April 15 bombings. That’s a good thing, they say, because it became very clear very quickly that while the rest of the city could shut down, they had to keep people moving.

Ross says one of his first reactions after hearing that something had blown up at the marathon finish line was to pick up the phone. “I immediately contacted LAZ Parking, the company that managers the MBTA parking facilities, and instructed them to inform their employees, especially those working in the garages, to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to MBTA police,” he says. “I also told them to make sure their employees stay safe.” Garages stayed open, he says, but under very watchful eyes.

Near the finish line, Fiandaca says she made her way two blocks to the buses that took runners to and from the race. “Once you got out of the finish area, people didn’t know what happened,” she says. “They knew something happened, though. I’d planned to meet up with a running group about half a mile away from the finish line in downtown Boston. Walking there, I saw people looking at their phones in shock, just dazed.”

She walked to her office where she found a television on but no phone service. “People were frantically trying to get through to me,” she says. “I could read text messages, but not respond to them.”

Officers at her office’s marathon command center, around the corner from the finish line, immediately started working with law enforcement officials to get people away from the scene, which wasn’t a simple task.

“The transportation department people were called in,” she says. “All the streets in the surrounding area were cleared because of the event, so it was a case of keeping those streets clear and, in ensuing days, managing the public notification effort as streets became available for residents and businesses.” That included tourists and others who’d traveled to town for the race and were suddenly unable to get back to their hotels or their cars—some, for days.

“We had to show some considerations in terms of parking enforcement in the days that followed,” she says. To help, her office worked with local community groups and the media to distribute information on parking and roads as quickly as possible, on as many channels as they could access.

“People were glued to their televisions and the internet for updates,” she says. “We kept pushing out as much information as we could.”

At Boston College, Cappadona worried about his shuttles. “Our shuttle route usually shuts down to accommodate the marathon,” he says. “My immediate concern was that I had people who needed to get back to their residence halls as the city was shutting down. We didn’t know if it was safe to run the routes for them. We worked with the police department and emergency personnel, and it really was minute-to-minute, with everything changing constantly.”

Shuttles were held in place until well after the 5 p.m. time they normally run back to campus on marathon day, he says, but finally were given the O.K. to start rolling.

As the week went on, parking officials say their operations slowly went back to as normal as possible, with everyone on edge. Friday morning, that all changed again.

The Manhunt
“Friday morning at 5 a.m., I received a phone call from Randy Miller, the regional general manager for LAZ Parking,” says Ross. Miller called to tell Ross about the manhunt. Shortly after, MBTA operations personnel called to tell Ross that operations, including garages, would be shut down for the day. He closed his facilities, but asked staff to remain onsite to keep an eye on things.

Fiandaca had a similar experience, and kept her staff onsite until about 2 p.m. “They weren’t prevented from leaving before then,” she says. “but the prudent thing to do was to stay in place.” She’d been in touch with police all week, she says, and had given law enforcement access to cameras in her facilities, including license plate recognition systems, along with information on the suspects’ parking violations and registration records.

“The surveillance cameras really came in handy,” she says. “We’re likely to have a lot more of them as a result. The cameras really solved the crime.”

Her department coped with daily changes until the last streets opened on April 24—nine days after the bombings—and then worked to help people as they returned to their homes and offices. “There was a lot of clean-up for those people,” she says. “They were locked out for more than a week. There was no trash going out and they couldn’t get in to clean up damage from the actual bomb.” That meant working to clear space for large trucks and vehicles curb-side for well more than a week.

At Boston College, Cappadona was under similar lock-down orders, but he also had his students to worry about.

“I knew at some point, the switch would be flipped and we’d be open and people would want to start moving around,” he says. “The drivers work out of a facility that’s about a half-hour or 45 minutes away from campus, so we asked them to stay. I told them to order pizza or play cards or do whatever they needed to do, but to please wait there. God forbid there was an evacuation. We didn’t know where this guy was or how close he might be, so we had to keep everybody on standby.”

Preparations and Lessons Learned
While parking and transportation professionals in Boston say there’s no way to really prepare for something like an act of terrorism, they agree that having emergency procedures in place made a big difference in the way they reacted to the situation.

While Ross says his staff is still evaluating what happened, “good communication was paramount for us. All departments stayed informed, which allowed us to follow the plan effectively. My number-one recommendation would be to make sure the lines of communication are wide open between all affected departments. When everyone is working together, you can get through emergency situations more efficiently.”

Fiandaca agrees. “It really highlights the importance of communication between departments and having a chain of command,” she says. “When this happened, our police commissioner led efforts on this end of things. Once they determined it was a terrorist attack, the FBI and other agencies were called in. But there was such a spirit of cooperation in terms of providing access to our streets for law enforcement, even though those streets were not available to residents or businesses.”

“People came together,” she says. “There were no egos involved. There were no turf battles. Everyone wanted to get the city back up and running,” she adds
Cappadona says that was also true at Boston College. “We had good policies and procedures in place and people were dedicated to making the right decisions,” he says. And that was also true for students who couldn’t get where they wanted all the time.

“They couldn’t have been better,” he says. “Everybody really understood the seriousness of what was going on and the uniqueness of the situation. This was not anything anyone had ever experienced, and people were fantastic. You know, in parking and transportation, people are often quick to complain. We didn’t have one complaint. Not one.”

“We have a slogan here—Boston Strong,” says Fiandaca. “It’s absolutely true.”

Ross agrees. “What touched me the most was the compassion of MBTA Officer Richard Donahue,” he says. “He was critically injured during the shoot-out early Friday morning. But when he recovered enough to speak, he spoke only of MIT officer Sean Collier [who was killed].” The two were friends, says Ross, and Donahue believes Collier played a part in saving his life.

Cappadona said it made him think more about his work and what it means.
“It’s parking,” he says. “You don’t think about how much of a role it plays. You see through things like this that it’s an integral part of the community. Safety and security are the primary concerns, and we are a piece of that.”

Kim Fernandez is editor of The Parking Professional. She can be reached at fernandez@parking.org.

TPP-2013-06-In the Blink of an Eye

Do You See What I See

TPP-2013-06-Do You See What I SeeBy Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR

Quick, take a look around. What do you see? If you are in your office, you probably see the usual office stuff: phone, computer, files and papers, desks, chairs, and people scurrying around. At home, you see the comforting surrounding you have created and grown accustomed to through the years. When we are in familiar situations, we often tend to gravitate toward the things that represent the everyday.

No matter where you are, one thing is certain: our focus is most immediately on what we can see. That said, it sometimes pays to dig a little deeper and think about what we might be missing with that cursory glance. I think it was the fictional character Sherlock Holmes who said, “Never underestimate the obvious,” and that is true.
I believe that what we should always endeavor to do, once we have identified the obvious, is prepare ourselves for those events and or situations that are less obvious and represent the unknown. (I hear you saying, “Here he goes again.” Hang in there.)

Think about the building you’re in right now. During construction, builders had to identify and make allocations for contingencies. In construction and in life, preparing for contingencies forces us to examine processes to identify where actual behaviors might differ or slip from those that are budgeted or expected, and put a measures in place that will allow for proper course correction.

All of us in our professional and personal lives have areas where we have identified a scope of work or activities we hope will take place. Most of us proceed along this path until something happens to throw us off course, and it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” that might happen. For many of us, the plan is that there is no plan. We cross those bridges as we come to them.

Preparation and execution are essential if we are to make the most of situations we encounter on a routine basis, as well as those that are less common. If you are always ready, you will never have to get ready. Rather, all you have to do is shift gears to get to your ultimate destination.

Mission Critical
I am not suggesting that we need to examine every part of our lives to try and identify all of the possible scenarios that would require some sort of pre-planning or contingency approach. What I am suggesting, however, is that each of us has mission-critical events in our professional and personal lives that require us to look beyond what is immediately apparent to us—the things we see right off the bat—because it is certain that what I see is not the same as what you see.

Here is a quick primer on how to go about assessing the need for a contingency plan that will allow you to be prepared before a disruptive event takes place: ask yourself how likely is it to occur, and what would happen if it did?
If the answer to question one is “likely,” you have a potential problem that needs to be addressed.

If the answer to question two is, “It would have a large or medium-sized effect on my goals,” you need to start developing your response.
Of course, the thing you are planning for may never happen. However, there are two things I have learned in life: never say never, and it’s always better to be prepared.

Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR, is the founder and principal of the mpr group and managing partner of Axeo. He can be reached at jrhodes@mprgroup.info or 773.548.8037.

TPP-2013-06-Do You See What I See

We are Providing Sustainable Health Care

TPP-2013-06-We are Providing Sustainable Health CareBy Bridgette Brady, CAPP

Did you know reducing congestion is part of a sustainable health care model? When we use transportation demand management (TDM) practices or provide bike parking in on-street spaces, we are doing our part to help a society be sustainable by enhancing community livability.

There are many components of livability, but one of particular interest is health care and, more specifically, how it connects to transportation and parking. The extent to which our efforts as an industry influence health care is greater than we may think.

In the late 1990s, researchers began applying a transdisciplinary approach combining health care, transportation, and urban planning in their studies. The collaborative efforts were designed to better understand the effects of vehicle use on human health, ranging from psychological stress to inactivity.

One study suggested that the psychological stress of commuting should be considered when computing the true costs of a commute. Traffic congestion is stressful due to its high-pressure properties: it operates as a constraint on movement and goal attainment and creates a frustrating situation. High-pressure commuting has adverse effects on blood pressure, mood, frustration tolerance, illness frequency, work absences, and job stability. Prolonged or frequent exposure to stress can be attributed to even more serious illnesses.

Another study concluded that time spent in a car was associated with obesity. This issue is compounded by the fact that earlier land use planning has all but engineered physical activity for non-exercise purposes out of many Americans’ lives. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, which are some of the leading causes of preventable death.

Agents of Change
We have made marked changes since the results of these studies were published. Yet, few of us may realize the influence we as transportation and parking professionals can have on improving health.

By providing alternative mobility options, we are decreasing the stress of commuting two-fold. As more people use mobility options, congestion will lessen. Further, using mobility options typically results in fewer miles spent behind the wheel and less time navigating congestion.

We are addressing the issue of congestion and consequent stress in many other ways. For example, we are making park-and-ride facilities more appealing by increasing supply and ease of access, increasing passive security features, and even providing amenities. We are providing incentives for the use of alternative mobility options and subsidies to support TDM. Further, we lobby at various levels of government for TDM causes.

Stress can occur during non-occupational vehicle travel when we try to locate parking. Parking operators have made significant investments in technology to help patrons easily find available spaces. Real-time parking guidance systems and mobile apps have changed the way we find and pay for parking.

The most evident way we are addressing inactivity is by providing access to active transportation. We have become more involved in land use planning, providing input on the needs for complete trails, streets, and greenways. We are converting on-street and covered vehicle parking spaces to bicycle parking. We are also partnering with health care agencies to provide cooperative programs.

All of these solutions were sought by researchers well before we understood our roles in sustainability as parking and transportation professionals. Yet, if we look deeper into the principals of sustainability, we may be surprised at how much influence we actually have on the greater good of society. Better solutions for the industry may be solutions for all of mankind. Now that’s a sustainable model we can all strive for.

Bridgette Brady, CAPP, is director, transportation services at Washington State University and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. She can be reached at b.brady@wsu.edu or 509.335.5105.

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The Importance of People

TPP-2013-06-The Importance of PeopleBy Vanessa K. Solesbee, MA

This issue of The Parking Professional—the one that celebrates excellence in our industry and highlights some of the talented men and women who exemplify the term “parking professional”—is the issue I look most forward to reading each year. I am deeply inspired by the stories of self-sacrifice, hard work, and joy that my colleagues and peers from across the country share as our industry celebrates the one thing that matters the most: our people.

I think the hallmark of a transformational leader and/or institution is one personally invested in their people—a leader who takes the time out of his or her busy day to write a nomination, thank an employee for a job well done, or simply take interest in a colleague or employee. An avid reader of Fast Company, I was particularly impressed by an article I read last year about the new generation of leaders and the speed with which companies and industries are going to have to adapt to attract and retain the best and brightest.

These next-generation leaders—what Fast Company calls “GenFlux”—are characterized by a mindset that embraces instability; it’s a mindset that not only tolerates but enjoys constantly recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. According to the article, not everyone will join GenFlux, but to be successful, organizations and individuals will have to carve out a new path. We are pioneers of a new age characterized by collaboration, innovation, and creativity in a world where personal, professional, and civic lives blur; where silos are broken down and true cross-disciplinary partnership is expected. It’s an age defined by technology, mobility, access to information, and entrepreneurship.

When I talk to friends, peers, and colleagues in other industries, it becomes more and more evident that parking, transportation, and access management professionals are uniquely poised to succeed in an increasingly Gen Flux world:
We are not only accustomed to change, but probably wouldn’t know what to do without it. We are asked every day to adjust our existing assumptions and paradigms to make sure we meet our customers’ needs, keep our programs in the black, and keep the general public safe.

We embrace all generations of leaders and innovators. We are too busy solving problems to care if you are “only 30.” If you can do the job well and have suggestions on better ways to do it, you’re hired.

We are diverse and inclusive. In skills sets, backgrounds, culture, and gender, parking professionals are truly representative of a global population.

Sayings such as, “That is the way it has always been done,” don’t fly with us.
We have a strong professional organization in IPI that offers impactful programming and educational opportunities. Executive Director Shawn Conrad, CAE, and his talented team have done a remarkable job of elevating our profession and engaging our membership.

All that said, out of all of the important characteristics that describe and elevate our industry, the foundation upon which everything is built—our atom, if you will—is our people. Our people are the ones I look forward to seeing every year at the IPI Conference & Expo, our people who are up in the middle of the night to salt and sand sidewalks to ensure our patrons’ safety, and who are developing innovative mobile technologies.

We are pioneers and trailblazers in a brave new world of constant change and flux, and in my opinion, an industry that celebrates and values its people is one that will continue to be a leader among leaders for generations to come.

Vanessa K. Solesbee, MA, is president of The Solesbee Group and a member of IPI’s Consultants Committee. She can be reached at vanessa@thesolesbeegroup.com or 319.654.4050.

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