Tag Archives: TPP-2014-11

Really Ride Sharing

TPP-2014-11-Really Ride SharingBy Josh Kavanagh, CAPP

Transportation options are expanding rapidly in communities across the United States, and that’s a good thing; expanding choice is good for consumers and can spur innovation and economic development. However, when those choices come in the form of disruptive technologies and business models, they create unique challenges. With no history to serve as reference, consumers may not understand what they’re buying and local leaders lack a regulatory template to ensure that the public interest is protected.

Among the most dynamic cases of innovation outpacing consumer information and regulation is the rapid expansion of transportation network companies (TNCs) that include Uber and Lyft. Describing themselves as “ridesharing” services, these companies mounted a challenge to established taxi and livery services in large and mid-size cities nationwide.

Consumers have, by and large, welcomed these new entrants enthusiastically, viewing them as an antidote to the perceived high cost and complacency of the taxi and livery industry. That industry, which is heavily regulated, was quick to cry foul, citing an uneven playing field and calling for regulation of the TNCs. Similarly, consumer and social justice advocates raised questions about everything from safety, driver screening, and insurance coverage, to the risk of inequities in service to ethnic minorities, low-income communities, and physically disabled riders.

Recognizing the need to strike a balance between supporting innovation, establishing a level playing field for business, and protecting consumers, city councils, state legislatures, and regulatory agencies leapt into the fray and attempted to create a regulatory framework for TNCs. Unfortunately, with most jurisdictions acting independently and without a regulatory template for these new companies, the results have been a patchwork quilt of regulation that places a burden on TNCs, which operate nationally, and often comes with unintended consequences for consumers, public agencies, and existing industry.

Need to Know Information

The nonprofit Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), representing ridesharing and transportation demand management (TDM) professionals, recently highlighted the unintended consequences of this effort on its industry with the publication “‘Ridesharing’: What Legislators and Regulators Need to Know.” It focuses on the TNCs’ self-description of their operations as ridesharing and the implications when local leaders regulate ridesharing without realizing the difference between for-profit driving services such as Uber and Lyft, and traditional, noncommercial ridesharing.

California and Arizona, for example, recently drafted legislation and policies meant to regulate TNCs such as Uber and Lyft, but definitional ambiguity almost led to the unintended regulation of those engaged in traditional carpooling and vanpooling. ACT argues that well-intentioned efforts to address policy issues raised by TNCs that fail to distinguish between TNCs and traditional, non-commercial ridesharing could place extraordinary burdens on carpoolers and vanpoolers. Examples of potential unintended consequences could include requiring commercial insurance, commercial driver licenses, background checks, and registration for acts as simple as two colleagues riding together in an employer-coordinated carpool program.

In attempting to bring definition to the services provided by TNCs, some jurisdictions and agencies became overly focused on the technology used to connect driver and rider. For example, in some cases, Arizona would have even required carpoolers and vanpoolers who were matched with ridematching software to register with the department of motor vehicles, among other things.

We at ACT say the focus on technology misses the point. The unique defining attribute of TNCs is not how drivers and riders are connected, but that drivers for TNCs operate like businesses—with a profit motive—unlike carpool or vanpool drivers who do not profit.

Traditional ridesharing, carpooling, and vanpooling, are not for-hire commercial services. Riders do not hail a carpool or a vanpool, and drivers do not profit or collect fares as they do with a taxi or TNC. Traditional ridesharing involves people pooling from a common origin, such as a residence or park-and-ride lot, or to a common destination, such as an employer or business park. In some cases, an arrangement is made that allows carpool or vanpool drivers to recoup the cost of the commute or receive some de minimus consideration, but the pool driver is simply a volunteer commuter whose goal is getting to the same destination and home again, not to profit as a commercial driver.

A Good Example
California’s Public Utility Commission made one of the more effective attempts to bring reasonable regulation to this new market while limiting unintended consequences. The state’s findings and California Assembly Bill 2293 represent current best practices and are an excellent point of departure for leaders in other jurisdictions attempting to navigate this new space. Copies are linked online in the advocacy section of the ACT website, ACTweb.org.

Because all parties benefit from clear and standard terminology, ACT released a matrix that describes the various categories of personal mobility options, including standard names, definitions, methodologies, public benefits, and rider/driver motivations (see p. 42–43). This quick reference guide is a must-have tool for local leaders looking to make their intentions clear, whether in public statements or legislation. It is also a critical tool for transportation industry and media professionals seeking to help the public navigate new options and follow the regulatory debate.

At the end of the day, consumers have made it clear that TNCs such as Uber and Lyft meet a need in the marketplace and that more choice is arguably a good thing. Local leaders have the opportunity to bring clarity to and even stimulate that marketplace while protecting consumer interests through thoughtful regulation, and that starts with a complete understanding of existing personal mobility options and with standard terms and definitions.

CAPP, is director of transportation services at the University of Washington and president of the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT). He can be reached at joshkav@uw.edu or 206.685.1567.

TPP-2014-11-Really Ride Sharing

Pricing Prominence

TPP-2014-11-Pricing ProminenceBy Rachel Weinberger, PhD; Amy H. Auchincloss, PhD, MPH; and Semra Aytur, PhD, MPH

Off-street parking prices—not meter prices, fines, or time limits—appear to affect whether people drive or use transit. Parking supply and cost may influence how often people choose to use public transit, but without large-scale data, little can be said conclusively. Free worksite parking is associated with a higher probability that workers will drive alone rather than use transit, and where the parking benefit is monetized (or cashed out), people will use alternatives such as carpool when there are few or no transit alternatives.

Research shows a driver is more likely to use an automobile to travel to work, even when transit is convenient, if he or she has a designated parking space at home. Most of these studies focus on just one city or worksite and no study has looked at the balance between revenue-raising activity for local authorities, the desire to avoid deterring visitors (and damage urban vitality), and the need to manage transport demand. Hence, the use of parking fees and fines to ensure smooth functioning of the transportation system is not well understood. Furthermore, the level at which fees and fines become meaningful management levers, assuming such a threshold exists, is unexplored. The lack of large-scale data on public parking fees and fines and public planning that relates to parking has hampered such analysis.

To address that lack, we asked public parking agency representatives in cities across the U.S. to report on parking conditions and characteristics in their jurisdictions. Survey questions covered fines for various parking violations, fees for on-street metered parking and off-street parking, and maximum time periods for on-street parking; 107 city parking supervisors responded. Some data, such as off-street midday and daily rates, were supplemented from secondary sources, as parking lots are frequently managed by private entities and city employees have limited working knowledge of rates.

We matched 2010 parking policy data with public transit passenger miles traveled in 2009. U.S. Census data from 2000 provided city population density (population per square mile of land), percentage of the population in poverty, retail sales per capita, and number of firms. The transit data are from the National Transit Database but compiled by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and published in its Urban Mobility Report.

In addition, because density is known to influence walk trips, prevalence of transit, and intensity of parking and transit demand, we created a city-level indicator for population density. Approximately 6,000 people per square mile is the density at which a significant decrease appears in vehicle miles traveled and the density at which public transit becomes more feasible to sustain at higher frequency of service. We used this as the threshold to define high or low density for cities in the study.

Parking Rates
Among the 107 cities in the sample, 45 percent (48 cities) had relatively high-cost parking. Parking fees and fines varied consistently across high- and low-density cities (see Table 1). We found reliably higher fees and fines in high-density cities. In some cases, the differentiation was so strong that the lowest fines and fees in dense cities exceeded the highest fines and fees in low-density cities.

Only 36 percent of low-density cities had any high fees and/or fines for parking, while 67 percent of high-­density cities were in the highest category for some fee or fine (Table 1). Hourly fees at on-street parking meters were low; the median meter price is $1 per hour. In high-density cities, the median meter price is $1.25 per hour; only about 10 of the largest cities surveyed had fees that were $2 per hour or more.

Off-street parking fees were low for low-density cities: Median midday hourly and all-day rates were less than $3 per hour and $10 per day, respectively; fees in higher-density cities with better transit and more transit use were approximately double—$6 per hour and more than $17 per day, respectively.

The average meter time limit for the central business district was two hours. Midday peak meter occupancy rates were 85 percent in high-density cities and 76 percent in low-density cities (but only 60 percent of cities reported meter occupancy). High-­density cities had twice as many meters per capita than smaller cities (11 per 1,000 people vs. five per 1,000 people, respectively).

Parking in a handicapped space incurred the highest fines—approximately $200—with fines in five cities exceeding $440. Fines for fire hydrant/fire lane parking were approximately $50 (more than $115 in five cities). Fines for handicapped and fire hydrant violations did not differ by city size and were not correlated with other violations. The highest fines for prohibited parking, expired meter, and overtime parking violations averaged approximately $35 in high-density cities and $25 in low-density cities (of these, prohibited parking had the highest fines; five cities maintained fines of more than $80 for parking in a no-parking zone).

Transit Use
Transit use is positively correlated with off-street daily parking rates. Exploratory linear regression models confirmed this relationship. Looking only at high-density cities and taking account of state gas price and city economic variables, including prevalence of poverty, retail sales per capita, and number of firms, we found higher parking cost to be associated with a 2.3-fold increase in per-capita public transit passenger use. At the same time, we found little or no association with transit use and parking fines, nor did we find any for low-density cities, presumably because parking costs are too low to matter.

In sum, parking fees and fines varied by city size, particularly for off-street parking where larger cities charged approximately $3 more per hour and $7 more per day. Most on-street meters allowed parking for up to two hours and had fairly low fees regardless of city size and density. Fines for violating parking regulations varied widely; handicapped parking violations far exceeded fire hydrant/lane and other fines for parking violations. Transit miles were positively correlated with off-street daily parking rates and, to a lesser extent, cities that ranked highest for at least one fee or fine had more per-capita public transit miles.

What It Means for Cities
Our analysis shows a clear relationship between more costly off-street central business district parking and public transit use in denser cities. We have not shown the causality; it is possible that raising parking cost does not lead to more transit ridership directly but that instead the same conditions (such as high density) that foster transit use also lead to high parking costs. Other studies have linked free/reduced-cost worksite parking and/or residential parking availability to higher driving probabilities and lower transit use; curbside meter and violation costs have not systematically been linked to travel mode.

In this study, results were adjusted for state-level gas prices and city-level economic features; however, there are myriad interrelated factors not included in these analyses that could contribute to high private vehicle use and relatively low use of public transportation in the U.S. Other factors, such as state- and local-level land use and transportation policies, access to transit, and transit costs, may also explain the observations and the low cost of parking. Ready availability in low-density locations may account for the lack of an association in smaller cities.

Nevertheless, there are two main points to take from this analysis: Where prices better reflect market conditions, pricing affects the choice between transit and driving. On the other hand, high variability across similar cities and irrational consistency (such as meter rates being very similar regardless of other factors) show that many cities are not managing their parking to best advantage. This is an area in which cities can take cues from San Francisco, Seattle, Pasadena, and Washington, D.C. These cities have reviewed their legacy parking policies and specifically price their parking to achieve broader transportation and economic objectives.

While we conclude that parking policies could play a stronger role in rebalancing travel choices, optimizing across transit, automobile, and active transport modes (walking and cycling), numerous challenges exist to implementing innovative policies. Some parking policies are too costly to enforce (an example is overtime meter violations that require frequent inspection) and general dependence on automobiles has fostered fierce opposition to increasing the costs of parking, making the political cost difficult to overcome—even though to do so may, in fact, increase the convenience.

In many cities and regions, there is high fragmentation of parking and transportation decision-making. Some difficulties encountered while collecting data for this study serve as a small-scale exemplar of city-level fragmentation: There were multiple agencies (and in some cases, private entities) involved with data related to public parking, and most parking and public works officers knew very little about land use development/zoning for parking or employer cash-out policies or even revenues generated from parking.

The baseline data reported here can be used to compare future parking data and potentially assess effects of parking and/or transportation policy on changes in transportation behaviors. This work sets the stage for future studies that could examine synergies between incentives and disincentives related to better managing cities by better managing parking.

Rachel Weinberger, PhD, is director of research and policy strategy for Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates. She can be reached at rweinberger@nelsonnygaard.com or 212.242.2136.

Amy H. Auchincloss, PhD, MPH, is associate professor, department of epidemiology and biostatistics, at the School of Health, Drexel University. She can be reached at aha27@drexel.edu or 267.359.6054.

MPH, is assistant professor, department of health management and policy, at the University of New Hampshire. She can be reached at s_aytur@yahoo.com or 603.862.3415.

TPP-2014-11-Pricing Prominence

Stepping It Up

TPP-2014-11-Stepping It UpBy Nima Chhay, Sean Laraway, Susan Snycerski, and Marjorie Freedman

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than one-third of adult Americans are obese, which threatens their health and costs our nation $147 billion in health costs annually. As members of a university community, we are concerned with the health and well being of our colleagues and students. Surveys at San Jose State University revealed that about 40 percent of our students described themselves as slightly or very overweight and 48 percent of our university employees can be classified as overweight or obese. Therefore, our campus seemed an ideal place to try to increase physical activity.

The CDC recommends that healthy adults participate in 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (MIPA) each week. Examples of MIPA include climbing stairs, walking briskly (3–4 mph), and cycling. The agency says short bouts (~10 minutes each) of various intensity physical activities throughout the day are sufficient to help prevent chronic diseases and improve the quality of life for most adults.

In a national health survey, about 20 percent of U.S. college students reported getting at least 30 minutes of MIPA five or more days weekly, and 25 percent reported no physical activity at all (ACHA, 2012). Among adults and college students, the most frequently reported barriers to physical activity include lack of time, an unwillingness to pay extra fees for fitness classes or gym memberships, and a lack of knowledge about using exercise equipment. To address these barriers, we implemented a point-of-choice sign prompt to promote stair use in a campus parking structure. Using the stairs instead of an elevator represents a no-cost exercise option that requires only small changes to daily routines and little investment of additional time. In addition, using the stairs saves electricity and reduces wear and tear on elevators, driving down their operating costs.

Stair climbing is considered a MIPA, and an eight-week progressive stair-climbing regimen has been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, a cardiovascular risk) and increase VO2max, which is a marker for cardiorespiratory fitness. Because of its potential as an efficient and convenient form of exercise, government agencies, including the CDC and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DHMH), have promoted stair climbing.

Making it Happen
Several research studies have examined interventions to increase stair use. These interventions included placing point-of-choice signs prompting stair use near stairwells, offering competitive challenges with prizes for stair climbing, and making changes to the stairwells, such as painting them pleasant colors and adding artwork. Given the cost, effort, and logistical difficulties involved in more active interventions, we explored the use of point-of-choice prompts to motivate people to use the stairs instead of the elevator in a campus parking garage. The prompts used in previous studies used messages suggesting various benefits of stair climbing (e.g., maintaining good health, maintaining healthy body weight, saving time, and saving energy). Although some studies have found no effect of such prompts, other studies have shown that prompts can increase the use of stairs instead of escalators or elevators. Despite the mixed results, sign prompts are fairly inexpensive and easy to implement, which makes them attractive as a means to increase stair climbing.

Recently, Lee et al. (2012) reported that the NYC DHMH stair prompt significantly increased stair use when placed in a health clinic, academic building, and affordable housing site. The NYC DHMH stair prompt has a stick figure climbing stairs with a large message reading, “Burn calories, not electricity, take the stairs,” and a small print message that reads, “Walking up the stairs just two minutes a day helps prevent weight gain. It also helps the environment.” The prompt increased stair use across these settings, so we felt it held promise for promoting stair use on our campus. After receiving permission, we tested the effects of the NYC DHMH stair prompt. Because Kerr et al. (2001) found that a time-saving message increased stair use in commuters, we added a similar message stating that it often takes less time to climb stairs than take the elevator. Our modified sign appears at right.

We observed the percentage of visibly able-bodied people (those who were not observed using a wheelchair, cane, or other mobility device) who took the stairs to a higher floor, excluding those who had something that would make stair climbing difficult or impossible (e.g., large packages or rolling carts). Observations occurred twice a week on weekday afternoons for 26 days. The parking structure observed in this study has six levels with multiple stairwells. The stairwell we observed is adjacent to the elevator.

This study had two phases. During the baseline (control) phase (n = 14 days), no sign was present. For the intervention phase (n = 12 days), we placed the modified NYC DHMH stair prompt sign (22 × 28 inches) on a metallic chrome sign stand (60 inches tall) next to (but not blocking) the elevator entrance. Across both phases, we observed a total of 2,486 people (1,289 men, 1,183 women, and 14 undetermined).

The percentage of people using the stairs was slightly lower in the baseline (724/1285 = 56.3 percent) compared to the intervention (681/1201 = 56.7 percent) phase, but this difference was not statistically significant, X2(1) = 0.03, p = .86, odds ratio = 0.99 (95 percent CI = 0.84–1.15). We did not observe statistically significant gender differences, with men and women using the stairs at similar levels during the baseline (men = 54.5 percent, women = 57.7 percent) and intervention (men = 58.0 percent, women = 55.2 percent) phases. We did not observe other stairwells or other buildings, so we do not know the extent to which our prompt influenced stair use at these other locations.

In contrast to Lee et al. (2012), we did not find that a point-of-choice prompt appreciably changed stair climbing in the parking garage. Obviously, there are many differences between our study and that of Lee et al. that could explain the discrepant findings, including the population studied, setting, geographic region, and so on. One obvious difference between our study and that of Lee et al. is sample size. We observed ~2,500 people compared with the ~18,500 people they observed.

The Results
Beyond sample size, one plausible reason for our results was that we observed a relatively high level of stair use in the baseline phase (56.3 percent). Such a high level of stair climbing might represent a ceiling that reduced the relative effectiveness of our stair prompt. It is possible that given the choice between taking the stairs and the elevator, there might be some upper limit in the number of people willing to expend the energy to take the stairs. Changing habits is relatively difficult, and perhaps a simple sign is not enough to motivate new behavior in some people. In their review, Nocon et al. (2010) reported that only three out of 10 studies that used point-of-choice prompts to increase stair climbing over elevator use found statistically significant increases. In all three of these studies, the increases were relatively small. Therefore, our results are consistent with a majority of studies on this topic (but conducted in settings other than parking garages).

To our knowledge, only one other study has examined the effects of point-of-choice sign prompts on stair climbing in parking garages (i.e., Bungum et al., 2007). Therefore, there is still much work to be done to determine what aspects of sign prompts might effectively promote stair climbing in this type of setting. Despite the mixed findings on the effectiveness of point-of-choice prompts in the research literature, the fact that such prompts have been found effective in some studies provides a rationale for further research. In addition, the relatively low cost and ease of implementing such prompts compared to other possible interventions make them an attractive first step (pun intended) in increasing stair climbing and reducing elevator use. Given a high-traffic parking garage, even small increases in the number of people climbing the stairs could have substantial cumulative effects over time.

We are academics, not parking professionals, so we do not have the same experience you do in the management of parking structures. We can only guess at what kinds of interventions might work on your home turf. Because of your unique skill set and perspective, you are in an excellent position to develop effective interventions tailored for your specific parking structures. We doubt there is a one-size-fits-all model, and different structures will likely require customized solutions. We encourage parking professionals to contribute to the investigation of cost-effective and simple interventions to promote stair use and decrease elevator use in able-bodied users of parking structures. By doing so, you may help improve the health of Americans, save money on elevator maintenance and electrical costs, and improve the sustainability of parking structures. In addition, you will likely teach us academics a thing or two about changing human behavior.

Note: These data were collected as part of Nima Chhay’s thesis for the MA in Research and Experimental Psychology at San José State University.

Adams, J., & White, M. (2002). A systematic approach to the development and evaluation of an intervention promoting stair use. Health Education Journal, 61, 272-286.

American College Health Association. (Spring 2009). National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA-II). Baltimore, MD.

American College Health Association. (Fall 2012). National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA-II). Hanover, MD.

Blake, H., Lee, S., Stanton, T., & Gorely, T. (2008). Workplace intervention to promote stair-use in an NHS setting. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 1, 162-175.

Boreham et al. (2005). Training effects of short bouts of stair climbing on cardiorespiratory fitness, blood lipids, and homocysteine in sedentary young women. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 39, 590-593.

Brownell, K. D., Stunkard, A. J., Albaum. (1980). Evaluation and modification of exercise patterns in the natural environment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137, 1541-1546.

Bungum, T., Meacham, M., & Truax, N. (2007). The effects of signage and the physical environment on stair usage. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 4, 237-244.

Freedman, M. R., & Rubinstein, R. J. (2010). Obesity and food choices among faculty and staff at a large urban university. Journal of American College Health, 59, 205-210.

Howie, E. K., & Young, D. R. (2011). Step it up: A multicomponent intervention to increase stair use in a university residence build. American Journal of Health Promotion, 26(1), 2-5.

Kerr, J., Eves, F. F., & Carroll, D. (2001). The influence of poster prompts on stair use: The effects of setting, poster size and content. British Journal of Health Psychology, 6, 397-405.

LaCaille, L. J., Dauner, K. N., Krambeer, R. J. & Pedersen, J. (2011). Psychosocial and environmental determinants of eating behaviors, physical activity, and weight change among college students: A qualitative analysis. Journal of American College Health, 59, 531-538.

Lee, K. K., Perry, A. S., Wolf, S. A., Agawal, R., Rosenblum, R., Fisher, S., Grimshaw, V. E., Wener, R. E., Silver, L. D. (2012). Promoting routine stair use: Evaluating the impact of a stair prompt across buildings. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42, 136-141

Nocon, M., Müller-Riemenschneider, F., Nitzschke, K., & Willich, S. N. (2010). Review Article: Increasing physical activity with point of choice prompts—a systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 38(1), 633-638.

Van Nieuw-Amerongen, M. E., Kremers, S. P. J., de Vries, N. K., & Kok, G. (2011). The use of prompts, increased accessibility, visibility, and aesthetics of the stairwell to promote stair use in a university building. Environment and Behavior, 43, 131-139.

Nima Chhay is a research associate with Socratic Technologies. He can be reached at nima.chhay@gmail.com.

Sean Laraway is associate professor, department of psychology, San Jose State University. He can be reached at sean.laraway@sjsu.edu.

Susan Snycerski is a lecturer, department of psychology, San Jose State University. She can be reached at susan.snycerski@sjsu.edu.

Marjorie ­Freedman is associate professor, department of nutrition, food science, and packaging, San Jose State University. She can be reached at marjorie.freedman@sjsu.edu.

TPP-2014-11-Stepping It Up

Real Numbers

TPP-2014-11-Real NumbersBy Jay Primus

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) manages San Francisco’s parking, but for many years couldn’t answer a simple question: how many parking spaces are there in the city? We weren’t alone; to the best of our knowledge, no other major city can accurately answer this question. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and measuring is an easy step for cities to take toward better managing parking supply and demand.

SFpark was a demonstration of a new approach to managing parking, and in preparation for that pilot project, the SFMTA collected comprehensive data about San Francisco’s publicly available parking supply, both on- and off-street, including existing parking regulations. As a result of the census, for the first time, the SFMTA has detailed information about the city’s publicly available parking supply, and while that data are critical for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the SFpark pilot project, they also have broad utility for other types of projects and analyses.

Reasons for a Census
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of having accurate data about existing parking supply and regulations. Until its supply data were assembled, the SFMTA suffered from its absence. For example, during SFpark pilot project planning, early estimates of the number of parking sensors and meters in pilot areas were too low because the project team did not have ready access to accurate parking supply data. Project planning and procurements were not as precise as they could have been had accurate supply data been available at the beginning of the project.

Accurate parking census data was also critical for implementing and operating SFpark. Final detailed implementation planning for the pilot project equipment, such as the installation of parking sensors and meters, could only be completed if organizers knew how many metered on-street parking spaces were in each pilot area and what regulations governed each space.

In San Francisco, as in many cities, regulations that apply to on-street spaces are often complex. This is particularly true downtown, where a parking space might be part of a metered commercial loading zone during morning hours, a general metered parking zone during afternoon hours, a peak-period, tow-away, no-stopping zone between 4 and 6 p.m., and an unmetered passenger loading zone in the evening. San Francisco has hundreds of parking meter configurations. Having an accurate inventory of the regulations for each metered space was necessary to establish an automated database instead of adopting a manual approach to tracking, updating, and managing meter configuration data with parking meter vendors.

Conducting the Census
Gathering citywide parking supply data took place during six years starting in the summer of 2008, with regulatory data continually updated and expanded beginning in 2009. The SFMTA gathered data for metered and off-street parking supply in 2008 and 2009, as well as a random sample of 30 percent of unmetered blocks in the city. The SFMTA finished counting legal unmetered on-street parking spaces on all city blocks in early 2014.

The data collection effort surveyed all of San Francisco’s publicly available parking supply, including on-street (metered and unmetered) and publicly available off-street garages and lots (private residential parking spaces were not counted). This effort included:

  • Translating existing documents (such as the city assessor’s parking tax records to determine the initial list of parking garages and lots) into the geographic information systems (GIS) database used to assemble the data.
  • Reconciling different parking-related databases within the SFMTA.
  • Extensive field surveys and site visits.
  • Entering the data into a database.

The work was done primarily by interns and subcontractors (approximately 3,000 person hours) and led by SFpark team members who assembled the database.

Census Data Use
Parking census data are important not just for parking management but also to provide vital information for many other current and future SFMTA and city projects and policies. To maximize the benefit of this parking data, the SFMTA shared it via datasf.org and SFpark.org. Its benefits and uses include:

Knowing the parking supply. The SFpark project team recently produced a map of the parking supply around a proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor on Geary Boulevard. Instead of needing to hire consultants to gather the data and produce parking supply maps on an ad-hoc, project-by-project basis, the SFMTA already had all parking supply data for the corridor on hand and could simply and quickly produce the maps. The SFMTA, other city agencies, and others working in San Francisco can rapidly assess existing parking supply when planning and implementing similar projects.

Sharing parking information. Another benefit of having and sharing this parking data is that it can be the basis of new privately developed web and mobile applications and other tools not yet imagined. The SFMTA and the people it serves will benefit as a result.

Enabling better demand management for existing parking. Accurate parking supply data help the SFMTA and the city think more strategically about where and how to use transportation demand management (TDM) strategies and identify where there are opportunities for shared parking.

Supporting policy decisions. Accurate data about parking supply inform civic conversations about parking, including decisions about where to build new parking facilities or the effect on the overall parking supply in a neighborhood if some parking spaces are re-used for other purposes (dedicating some on-street spaces to make room for a bicycle lane or redeveloping a parking lot into housing or a park).

Enabling management of parking supply, not just demand. Perhaps the most important use, knowing the parking supply enables the SFMTA and the City of San Francisco to not just manage parking demand via SFpark, but also to set policies and goals related to the overall parking supply. In other words, by measuring supply, the City of San Francisco is now in a position to manage it, which is important because parking supply (and its fundamental relation to parking prices and demand) is a large determinant in how people in San Francisco and the region choose to make their trips (i.e., by car or transit).

Next Steps
Moving forward, there are several challenges related to the parking census, including:

Keeping the data current. The SFMTA is working to expand the data set and improve the tools and internal processes used to keep it up to date. This has highlighted the necessity and opportunity to streamline internal business processes to improve how the constant small changes to parking data, from legislation to implementation on the street, are tracked and captured in the SFpark system.

Capturing temporary changes in parking supply. Parking spaces are often temporarily closed for construction projects, parades, and other situations or events. The SFMTA is attempting to increase the percentage of those types of events that are captured in the SFpark system. This is important for providing real-time parking space availability data because ideally, the data would not indicate that a particular block has open parking spaces when in fact those spaces are temporarily closed for a construction project or special event. Besides improving the accuracy of the real-time data feed, capturing temporary parking space closure data allows evaluation and analysis to be more precise.

Estimating the number of private parking spaces. The first priority for project planning and evaluation was information about the publicly available parking supply, but it will also be useful to have data on the city’s private parking supply (private residential or commercial parking). The SFpark team has developed a methodology it will use to develop an accurate estimate of the private parking supply; gathering this data and making this estimate will be the next phase of the parking census.

Jay Primus was SFpark manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency at the time this was written. For more information, contact Lauren Mattern at lauren.mattern@sfmta.com.

TPP-2014-11-Real Numbers

Parking Management in Abu Dhabi

TPP-2014-11-Parking Management in Abu DhabiBy Mohammed Al Muhairi and Tope Longe

The regulation and civil enforcement of parking, though introduced decades ago in some countries, debuted in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi (AD), in October 2009. The strategic management and implementation of change programs often pose challenges to managers, regardless of the industry or sector. Research has shown that the implementation of change initiatives in public sector organizations poses additional challenges and complexity due to the orientation, value, and objectives of the sector.

The introduction of parking management in AD has all the elements of transformational change management. Here, we present a historical and current perspective on solutions to the parking dilemma in a modern urban environment such as AD.

Abu Dhabi
Many people have heard of or visited Dubai, but fewer people know AD, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE was formed in 1971 when seven emirates (Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quim, Ras Al Khaima, and AD) came together under one flag. The UAE is situated in the Middle East, bordering the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is said to be ranked as one of the top 20 countries with the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. An oil-producing country, its oil reserve is ranked 17th in the world.

AD is the largest of the seven emirates, accounting for 87 percent of the UAE’s total area of approximately 84,000 square kilometers. Despite its size, it has a population density of approximately 36/km2, as compared to a population density of 99/km2 for the UAE as a whole. AD is the second most populous city in the UAE, after Dubai.

It is accurate to draw a parallel comparison between AD and Washington, D.C., and Dubai and New York City. AD, as the capital of UAE, is the seat for the government. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis and the country’s center of political activities—a major cultural and commercial center. AD is home to numerous multinational corporations and major local financial institutions and the corporate headquarters of many companies.

Development in the UAE has boomed in recent decades. This rapid growth and boom in the economy of the UAE has seen a high movement of people and services to the country and to AD. The country has experienced a population growth in which immigration is higher than the emigration rate. Approximately 70 percent of UAE residents are foreigners. AD recorded an annual growth rate of 7.7 percent between 2005 and 2011. AD generates a sizeable amount to the country’s GDP. In 2008, 60 percent of the GDP of the UAE was generated by AD.

Parking Problems
Private vehicle registration increased proportionally with the growth in economy, increasing immigration and resultant population growth. This was exacerbated by the prevalent vehicle-oriented culture that developed due to inadequate public transportation and pedestrian facilities. Illegal house-sharing was also rampant and led to more vehicles per household.

The urban setting is characterized by large, mixed-use city blocks or sectors. The problem was compounded by the fact that existing building footprints did not allow for basement parking; most inner city blocks were unable to meet increased demand for road space and parking spaces in the capital. Available surface parking was free, and enforcement of illegal parking activities was minimal. This led to a number of challenges:

  • Illegal and obstructive parking practices were widespread.
  • Safety was compromised due to congestion and obstructed streets; emergency vehicles experienced difficulty accessing accident sites.
  • Congestion, vehicle emission pollution, and environmental issues were rampant.

The Solution
In an attempt to resolve the prevailing parking problem, a number of initiatives and studies were undertaken to assess the parking situation and ascertain a strategy. Worth noting is the comprehensive Parking Management Study of 2006, which ultimately led to the establishment of MAWAQiF, which is the Arabic term for parking and the name of the division of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport established in 2009 to:

  • Manage, regulate, and maintain a safe, secure, efficient, environmentally friendly, and well-integrated parking management program (PMP) for AD.
  • Maximize the benefit of existing parking supply by increasing turnover.
  • Provide a sustainable solution aimed at ensuring a greener, more accessible, and less congested city.
  • Respond to the parking needs of stakeholders, including residents, workers, and visitors.
  • Plan for future parking supply and projected demand.
  • Support “Plan Abu Dhabi 2030,” the Department of Transport’s plan to place Abu Dhabi as one of the leading world capitals with regards to mobility, connectivity, and transport.

Figure 1 presents the timeline for parking solutions in AD. There are several major components to the proposed solution.

Public Awareness and Communication
A major part of the strategy for the AD parking solution was to raise public awareness of the initiative and the proposed parking solution. Communication is crucial to the success of a change initiative, and selecting the appropriate communication strategy is just as important. Some change programs have tended toward the adaptation of monologic communication strategies—that is, one-way command or a telling and directive style of communication. Here, a dialogic communication strategy that is inclusive and supportive and includes open consultation and a spirit of mutual equality was adopted.

A robust communication plan was embarked upon to communicate the agenda and benefits of MAWAQiF. The plan included the use of different communication media, from press releases to public relations campaigns to advertisements, to mention a few. A Middle East Parking Symposium also took place to further bring parking professionals under the same roof and answer public queries.

Legislative Framework
MAWAQiF was established under Law No 18. This comprehensive legislative framework defines, among other things:

  • The application of parking fees—the parking tariff per duration of stay of parker.
  • Fines to be paid when a vehicle is removed for ­violations. It also stipulates the power to remove an illegally-parked vehicle.
  • Division of authority between enforcement agencies.
  • Regulation of private parking.

Geographic Scope
The launch of the parking management program made the AD parking enforcement program one of the largest in the world. It operates more than 90,000 on-street and 4,000 underground parking spaces in 51 city sectors.

The geographic rollout of the program was carefully managed to avoid spillover and adverse effects on surrounding areas that were not part of the initiative. In areas where a significant supply shortage was evident, a number of initiatives were explored and implemented to allow for better use of road space. These include the addition of temporary or permanent parking supply, park-and-ride programs, re-routing traffic to create more parking spaces, and cross-sector parking permits to allow for the use of resident permits at other locations.

A total of 6,538 parking bays were created from re-routing and revamping areas into a new surface car park (see Figure 2).

Fee Structure
The parking fee structure was set as follows:

  • Fees are applicable from 8 a.m. to midnight.
  • A standard parking fee was set at AED2 ($0.54) per hour and AED15 ($4.01) per day.
  • This is affordable and well-suited for daily parking.
  • A premium parking fee was set at AED3 ($0.82) per hour with a maximum time stay of four hours. This encourages higher space turnover.
  • The system offers flexibility for different classes of parkers with virtual residential permits, seasonal/special permits for multistory garages, and ladies’ car parks in garages.

Enforcement fees were also adopted:

  • Each violation carried an average fee of AED200 ($54.20).
  • Towing carried a fee of AED500 ($136).
  • Storage costs were priced at AED100 ($27.20) per night.

Registration Renewals
As a rule, all outstanding parking fines must be settled by vehicle owners prior to the legally required annual re-registration of the vehicle. Vehicle registrations are carried out by AD Police. MAWAQiF is linked to the police for transferring and collection of outstanding parking fines. This system has led to high recovery of fines because recipients must register their vehicle every year for roadworthiness, and a condition for reregistration is that all outstanding parking fines have been settled in full.

Customer Service

Five parking shops were launched across AD to cater to the needs of customers; they’re open six days a week with one opening seven days and until late. The aim is to provide top-notch service from a comprehensive, state-of-the-art, customer service center that is easily assessable from strategic locations across AD Island.

Diversity of Payment
MAWAQiF offers a variety of payment options for both parking fees and violations:

  • Pay-and-display and pay-on-foot machines that accept cash or credit cards.
  • Mobile phone payments.
  • MAWAQiF payment service centers throughout AD that accept cash or credit cards.
  • Payments via the m-MAWAQiF website.

Payments can be made at MAWAQiF kiosks (like an ATM), which are located in and around AD and other emirates of the UAE.

Environmentally friendly rechargeable payment cards.

Central Parking Management System (CPMS)
The Central Parking Management System (CPMS) is the brain of MAWAQiF. It:

  • Integrates the different aspects of service, such as parking payments, violation, permits, etc.
  • Monitors various service functions.
  • Supports the analysis and management of financial service data.
  • Integrates with the Abu Dhabi Police system for registration and collection of outstanding parking fines.
  • Acts as a central data store for long-term reference and study.
  • All MAWAQiF services and transactions are performed through this system.

The Abu Dhabi Solution:
Major Achievements

The major achievements of MAWAQiF to date are:

  • Parking-related accidents reduced by 24 percent.
  • Improved emergency access to hot spot areas.
  • Job opportunities (548 parking inspectors and supervisors) were created at all levels of work.
  • More than 2,250 pay-and-display and pay-on-foot machines were installed.
  • Approximately 5,000 parking bays were created from re-routing and better utilization of road space.
  • Park-and-ride sites were successfully launched to ease demand for parking spaces and congestion in the central business district.

Compliance factor averages 98.07 percent (see Figure 3). Compliance factor is a measure of compliance of road users to parking regulations. It is calculated as:

  • Compliance factor = [1- (PVT/Total users)]% where PVT is total number of parking violation tickets issued.
  • The city of AD is no longer gridlocked by illegally parked vehicles; parking is organized and regulated.

Next Steps
The next steps for MAWAQiF focus primarily on service improvement and ultimately the improvement of customer experience, including:

  • Introducing temporary and/or permanent parking supply in sectors with severe shortages.
  • Rejuvenation of sectors to improve the urban setting and make it more conducive to the needs of the local residents.
  • Development of truck parking at identified industrial areas outside the city.
  • Continual upgrade and improvement to MAWAQiF services and performance through the introduction of smart parking solutions and efficiency measures.

The introduction of parking management to AD is a case of implementing profound, fundamental, transformational change that metamorphosed the city and saw the redress of the manifested parking problems. The parking program’s launch is distinguished by its breakdown of paradigms and driver habits from 100 percent reliance on private vehicles and the habit of illegally parking outside home or business to one of adherence and compliance with parking regulations and an increased awareness of the subject. It also spurred other traffic and transport initiatives that focused on other transportation options to enable transportation modal change.

Parking enforcement requires collaborative work and engagement of stakeholders. This was key to the success of the AD program. As with many other transformational change initiatives, systematic, cross-agency collaboration was integral to the success of the program.

Mohammed Al Muhairi is general manager, parking division (MAWAQiF), department of transport, Abu Dhabi. He can be reached at mohammed.almuhairi@dot.abudhabi.ae.

Tope Longe is a specialist, contract performance management, parking division (MAWAQiF), department of transport, Abu Dhabi. She can be reached at temitope.longe@dot.abudhabi.ae.

TPP-2014-11-Parking Management in Abu Dhabi

Playing a Critical Role

TPP-2014-11-Playing a Critical Role

Todd Litman is founder and executive director
of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. There, he works to expand the range of effects and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation methods, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. His research is used worldwide in transport planning and policy analysis.

Litman is author of Parking Management Best Practices and the “Online TDM Encyclopedia,” a comprehensive web-based resource for identifying and evaluating mobility management strategies. He is also the author of multiple studies on transportation and parking and a frequent source for the media. He recently talked with The Parking Professional about the changing transportation landscape and the roles parking can and should play going forward.

The Parking Professional: Why did you found the Victoria Transport Policy Institute?

Todd Litman: While working on my master’s thesis, which involved developing a framework for comparing the full costs of different forms of transportation, I was hired as a consultant by the British Columbia Ministry of Highways to help incorporate my research into their economic evaluation models. When that project ended, I established VTPI as a platform for continuing such research.

TPP: What are the primary goals of the Institute? How do you work to reach them?

TL: I enjoy research and policy analysis and sharing information. VTPI is funded by consulting work, but I often perform unfunded research on issues that I find interesting, which sometimes leads to more consulting. For example, early in my career I became interested in parking policy. I found that practitioners had little guidance concerning how to implement parking policy reforms and management innovations, so I wrote the book (Planners Press, 2006), which identifies various strategies that can result in more efficient use of parking resources. As a result, parking management is one of my areas of expertise, both alone and in conjunction with related issues such as campus transportation management, commute trip reduction program development, and smart growth policy implementation.

TPP: What role should the parking industry play in finding solutions to transportation challenges?

TL: Parking policy and planning decisions can have major impacts on both travel activity and land use development and also have diverse economic, social, and environmental effects. For example, parking prices can affect how people travel to a destination, and minimum parking requirements in zoning codes often affect the density, type, and cost of development. The parking industry can help apply innovative strategies that help achieve various planning objectives; for example, more efficient parking management can help support efforts to reduce traffic congestion, increase housing affordability, and encourage more accessible, compact development. Creative parking professionals can help solve some of the most challenging problems communities face.

TPP: What role does parking play in ensuring the success of downtown areas?

TL: Until recently, many people assumed that successful commercial districts require generous amounts of free parking, but more recent experience indicates that a combination of efficient parking management, pricing, and regulations, with improvements to alternative modes (better walking, cycling, and public transit) does more to support economic activity and encourage development. These polices ensure that motorists can always find a convenient parking space when needed, for example, when making deliveries and running important errands. It also allows more compact and affordable development (because infill development is not burdened with excessive parking costs), and by encouraging commuters to use alternative modes, reduces traffic congestion and improves downtown livability. Many downtowns are experiencing significant residential development, but this is only affordable if cities eliminate their minimum parking requirements so occupants are not required to pay for parking spaces they don’t want.

TPP: You’ve written about cost-effective parking management programs’ potential to reduce parking requirements by up to 40 percent, offering many economic and environmental benefits. Do you think municipal leaders have an understanding of that concept and what it means?

TL: There is good research indicating that efficient management can significantly reduce parking costs. The magnitude varies depending on specific conditions, but savings of 40 percent or more are often feasible. Stakeholders (policymakers, planning professionals, developers, real estate experts, etc.) vary in their understanding of these issues; some are unfamiliar with the full range of potential parking management strategies and are skeptical that they can be effective. Many are interested but cautious. A few are enthusiastic and lead the change. Our challenge is to provide the information that each stakeholder needs to understand and apply these innovations.

TPP: The parking industry has embraced sustainable solutions that include carshare, electric vehicle (EV) charging, and bicycle parking in its facilities. What do you think is the effect of that on our cities, and what more can our industry do in that regard?

TL: Yes, parking policy reforms can make major contributions toward creating more economically successful and livable communities, and many parking professionals are helping implement them. You should be proud! Of course, there is still much to be done, which is job security for parking professionals.

TPP: You’ve offered 10 principles of parking management that can help guide planning decisions that support parking management. How can parking professionals best work with city planners and others to spread understanding of the principles and the important role of parking professionals during the planning/design phase of major projects?

TL: We have a terrific product! More efficient parking management can help achieve a variety of economic, social, and environmental objectives, including traffic congestion reductions, more affordable development, more attractive streets, traffic safety, revenue generation, energy conservation, and emission reductions. In fact, efficient parking management is so beneficial that many people think we are exaggerating, but these impacts are measurable and often quite large.

Parking professionals should have good information at their fingertips concerning parking policy innovations that is ready to share with various stakeholders. This should include a combination of summary documents, detailed technical reports, and descriptions of successful examples that are ready to offer a public official, planner, or developer. Be prepared to share this information repeatedly—many people need to hear a message multiple times before they fully understand the concepts and appreciate their implications for their work.

TPP: How can the parking industry educate its patrons about efficiency-based standards (where lots can fill so long as problems/overflow can be addressed) when so many drivers believe a 1:1 car-to-space ratio is reasonable and desirable?

TL: I think the best way to address this problem is to offer a lower price for shared parking and a higher price for reserved spaces. That allows patrons to decide whether the increased convenience and prestige of having their own space is worth the price premium.

TPP: What role do you envision for the parking industry as transportation demand management (TDM) and transit-oriented development (TOD) become more common? How can it best prepare for that?

TL: The parking industry has a critical role to play! Efficient parking management both supports and is supported by TDM and TOD. For example, a typical commute trip reduction program will only reduce 5 to 15 percent of trips if it relies simply on information and persuasion, but this increases to 10 to 30 percent or more if the program includes efficient parking pricing (either charging motorists directly for their parking spaces or offering parking cash-out so commuters are offered the cash equivalent of parking subsidies if they don’t drive). Similarly, the number of parking spaces needed in a building can be significantly reduced if it is located in a TOD, and efficient parking management allows more and more affordable development there.

It is up to parking professionals to communicate these issues: We need to point out the ways we can help support other planning strategies such as TDM, TOD, and smart growth and help build coalitions with the stakeholders interested in implementing these strategies. For example, parking professionals can help organize meetings with policymakers, planners, and developers to learn about parking management innovations and strategize for their implementation.

TPP: How can parking providers at airports and hospitals/medical centers embrace TDM and smart parking design while ensuring enough supply to meet transient and often unpredictable demand?

TL: This is another example of the need for parking professionals to collect and share information about these strategies and support trial projects to demonstrate their effectiveness.

TPP: If you had your ideal, looking out 20 years, how would parking change?

TL: We live in interesting times! During the last decade the basic concepts and tools for parking management have been developed, but so far their implementation has been limited. The next two decades will be the period of implementation during which many ideas that seem new and controversial will become common and acceptable. For example, I believe that most jurisdictions will reform their minimum parking requirements to allow significant reductions based on geographic, demographic, and economic factors, and electronic parking guidance and pricing systems will become standard. These changes will be incremental, but their cumulative effects will be large. As a result of more efficient transportation and parking management, the amount of land devoted to parking will probably decline significantly in most urban areas.

TPP-2014-11-Playing a Critical Role

Work-Life Balance. Really.

TPP-2014-11-Work-Life Balance. Really.By Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR

Quick: What is the No. 1 cause of business failure in the United States? Some might say it’s lack of capital or access to capital, while others may say the problem is a lack of a defined business plan. Yet still others might lament that it is an inability to attract and retain qualified talent to run the enterprise. While all of those seem plausible, what I have learned is that the top reason businesses fail is an overly optimistic viewpoint of what the business can achieve.

You see, we all give ourselves the benefit of the doubt—why shouldn’t we? After all, we know (or at least we think we know) who we are and what we want. But the reality is that in many situations, we tend to overthink things when many circumstances are simpler than we imagine.

What does this have to do with work-life balance? I have run across a number of articles discussing the issue and for me, it’s simple. When you look at nations such as France, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and even Mexico, employees are given adequate time off work to enjoy what we all know is the most important thing in life: time to be with and enjoy family and the things we like to do when we aren’t part of any organization.

Our society has complicated things to the point that we can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. Yes, I know businesses have to run, and providing additional time off complicates that equation. But think about this: The concept of work-life balance implies that while one part is up, the other is down, sort of like a teeter-totter. The simple reality is that we don’t balance work and life issues. We don’t stop being who we are simply because we go to work.

We in the U.S. need to understand what many other nations already understand: Providing our team members with time off recognizes that they have lives outside of what we ask them to do at work, and giving them that time allows them to more effectively engage with the organization. At the end of the day, what we want and need is that engagement to move the enterprise forward.

Beyond the Job
Organizations need to do a better job of getting to know people beyond what they do on the job. We all need to treat people as if they matter, because they do. When we make the conscious decision to engage people differently, as whole individuals with rich lives outside of work, and endeavor to develop them fully, we provide the best opportunity for them to make our business entities a priority. The net result is that everyone benefits.

In the end, work-life balance shouldn’t be a yes-no situation. Rather, it should be here and now. Let’s begin the task of addressing what we know our people want, which is a quality of life that recognizes their involvement in myriad activities and not just what they can do for us in their work roles.

Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR, is founder and principal of the mpr group and author of BRAND: YOU Personal Branding for Success in Life and Business. He can be reached at jrhodes@mprgroup.info or 773.548.8037.

TPP-2014-11-Work-Life Balance. Really.

Garage Ventilation Options Improve

TPP-2014-11-Garage Ventilation Options ImproveBy Frank Nagle

One of the major sources of energy consumption and operational cost for an enclosed garage is the mechanical ventilation system. Indeed, as much as two-thirds of the monthly/annual energy bill can be attributed to ventilation costs for garage operators running their properties’ garage fans in accordance with established code requirements.

All enclosed parking garages in North America are subject to ventilation standards established by the International Mechanical Code (IMC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE). They both stipulate that garage ventilation systems must run continuously during building-
occupied hours except when they deploy carbon monoxide (CO) sensor-based, demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) systems.

As a means to ensure operational efficiencies that protect the health and safety of garage customers and employees as well as those who may live or work in the space above, an increasing number of states and municipalities have adopted or are considering adopting stricter garage ventilation requirements. States including California, Washington, and Oregon now require continuous ventilation even when a CO system is in place. The decision was made after those states determined the type of CO system that has served for years as the industry standard—known as an on/off or start/stop system—may present mechanical and health and safety issues.

Fortunately, garage ventilation technology has taken a quantum leap in the past few years, converging with the stricter standards to offer garage owner/operators means to generate significant energy savings and maximize building operational efficiencies while meeting new requirements.

Case Study
Consider Parc Pointe Apartments, Burbank, Calif., which includes two adjacent underground garages served by two garage ventilation systems. In March 2013, property owners installed a variable-flow garage DCV system that’s designed to keep the garage fans running at varied motor speeds, depending on CO concentrations.
The system incorporates variable frequency drive (VFD) technology that syncs with a garage ventilation controller and CO sensors to enable motors to run at low speeds while CO levels are low and ramp incrementally as predetermined CO trip points are reached.

Post-installation data logging showed the new DCV system reduced annual energy consumption by 307,900 kWh and 35.15 peak kW. The property’s garage ventilation costs dropped from $48,000 to just $2,800 per year.

That equates to a 94 percent decrease in energy consumption and utility fees. Furthermore, according to Anchor Pacifica Group, the property owner, the garage retrofit reduced the annual electric bill for the entire apartment complex by 38 percent.

The DCV system installation cost $69,700. Based on the energy savings obtained, it paid for itself in just 18.5 months. Furthermore, after accounting for the cost of installation, the system’s net present value (NPV) exceeds $490,000. Lastly, throughout the 15-year lifespan of the system, it will save approximately $610,000 in energy costs.

The variable-flow DCV system’s adaptability is worth noting. On-site inspection(s) of the property’s garage electrical systems confirmed it was possible to reduce the total number of somewhat expensive VFDs by half by combining two and, in some instances three, low-horsepower motors on to one VFD, thus significantly reducing the bill of material.

Frank Nagle is founder and principal of Nagle Energy Solutions and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at frank@nagle-energy.com.

TPP-2014-11-Garage Ventilation Options Improve

Stakeholder Communication To Infinity and Beyond!

TPP-2014-11-Stakeholder Communication To Infinity and Beyond!By Vanessa K. Solesbee, MA

Any conversation about building an effective municipal operation is incomplete without a discussion about stakeholder communication. According to ­Merriam-Webster’s definition, communication is “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings to someone else.” As parking professionals, it can sometimes feel like the answer to the question, “What is communication?” can be “Whatever works today” or “All of the above.”

Knowing exactly who your stakeholders are can be a good first step, but it is also important to consider your organization’s philosophy on communication. Do you approach communication as a finite process, or is it something that you are continuously working to improve? Is communication something your organization does at or to people rather than with them? Effective communication—both with your internal stakeholders (i.e., staff, board, superiors) and external stakeholders (i.e., current and future customers, media)—can be one of the most effective operational tools you have, so it’s important to consider not only how, but also why, you are doing it in the first place.

When I think about the process of communicating with stakeholders, I like to imagine the infinity symbol. In mathematics, infinity can often be defined as a specific thing, a number greater than all numbers. However, in some ancient cultures, the concept of infinity was approached more abstractly—more philosophically—as something limitless, endless, or without boundary. Communicating with the staff members, customers, and general public your parking organization serves likely won’t have a definite beginning or end. Instead, it is an infinite loop in which information (or lack of it) continuously re-creates your organizational narrative. Even when you stop communicating with your stakeholders, whether in a time of crisis or when you think you simply don’t have time, the loop doesn’t stop, leading to the even bigger question: If you aren’t creating your own messaging, who will?

Another critical part of the communication infinity loop is how you receive and assimilate feedback from your customers. Whether the feedback you solicit is part of an intensive public engagement process to implement a new technology or program or part of a quick customer satisfaction survey, if your stakeholders cannot see their thoughts, opinions, and fingerprints reflected in the decisions made to change or improve your parking operation, they can quickly become disillusioned with the process or worse, completely disengage. As we all know, trust takes much longer to build than it does to break, and in the parking profession, where our customers are our biggest assets, communication can be a key driver in a building an operation that is customer-focused and responsive.

Whether you are looking to move your communication efforts from good to great or are simply trying to figure out where to start, here are a few questions to ask as you look to build your organization’s communication philosophy in a thoughtful and strategic way:

  • Do you know with whom you need to be communicating and how often you should be communicating with them?
  • Are you communicating in a way that is understandable to your audience(s)? For example, do you avoid using professional jargon that may not be understood by your customers (e.g., scofflaw)?
  • Is your messaging simple, concise, repeated often, and available in a variety of formats?
  • Do you regularly ask your customers for their feedback? Do have a process for accepting feedback? What do you do with it?
  • Does your messaging complement and highlight your organizational values?
  • Do you have an organizational spokesperson/spokespeople?
  • Do you have a relationship with your local media?

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.

TPP-2014-11-Stakeholder Communication To Infinity and Beyond!