Tag Archives: TPP-2015-01

Salary-Based Rates Take Off

TPP-2015-01-Salary-Based Rates Take OffBy Melinda Scott Anderson, CAPP

Instead of employing new and exciting rate strategies designed to maximize revenue and space utilization or simply continuing with proven strategies, sometimes we are required to go in a direction that runs counter to our understanding of best practices in the industry and even our strongest recommendations regarding best course of action for our agency or institution.

Facing Challenges
After more than 35 years of relying on geographic-based employee parking rates (rates set according to the location of the parking facility), with all customers paying the same price for the same level of convenience and service, the decision was made at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to convert to a salary-based parking fee structure.

MUSC is an academic medical center located in the historic city of Charleston, S.C. MUSC’s 95 buildings occupy 82 acres in the city’s medical complex, which also includes the VA hospital, Charleston County medical offices, and a large private hospital. MUSC’s six colleges—medicine, nursing, dental medicine, pharmacy, graduate studies, and health professions—have an enrollment of 2,777 students.

The university’s medical center sees more than 1.2 million outpatients and admits almost 36,000 patients to its four inpatient facilities (709 beds plus 58 neonatal care beds) each year. The university and medical center employee population totals 12,749 and is comprised of research and clinical faculty and medical, research, and university staff.

The MUSC parking system is self-supporting, depending entirely on user fees to operate, maintain, and grow the system and retire debt. Albeit at a rate well below market, employees and students have paid for their personal parking since the formalization of the campus parking system more than 35 years ago. While the medical center picked up the parking tab for its patients for many years, it gradually moved to a fee-based rate structure for inpatients and outpatients. Today, every patient or visitor who parks with us—approximately 800,000 annually—pays at least part of his parking fee.

When the national economy fell on hard times in 2008, out of concern for our employees, a planned series of pre-approved employee parking rate increases was discarded. The absence of rate increases for a number of years and the addition of new debt service for a ­recently-completed 1,600-space parking garage caused the parking system to fall into deficit mode. During this time, the university began examining its budget methodology and started its move to a new budget model: responsibility-centered management (RCM). RCM budgeting moves the responsibility for resource allocation for university and hospital general services (including parking) from central administration to the main operating divisions of the institution—the six colleges and their deans.

Responsibility for the parking deficit then moved to the six colleges. In RCM meetings and discussions held over many months, the six colleges and medical center were faced with two choices: fund the parking deficit themselves based on a demographic formula or implement an employee rate-increase plan that would eliminate the parking revenue shortfall within a few years. The decision was made to increase rates; the only question was what basis to use for an increase. Two pricing approaches were considered for moving employee rates to system break-even over a five-year period:

  • Geographic-based/desirability of parking location.
  • Salary-based/ability to pay.

Parking management believed then and now that parking spaces are no different than other goods and services we purchase. As consumers, we make choices based not only on what is available but on the cost and the value to us of the good or service. We reasoned that the parking spaces cost the same to provide, so why should one person pay more or less than another for parking in the same facility?

We believed (and still do) that given the university’s waiting list assignment system and without the economic influence of a standard rate established in accordance with demand for the location, eventually, the number of lower-salaried employees parking in the system would be greater than the number of higher-salaried employees, tilting the revenue scale unfavorably.

Because we are accustomed to responding to pushback, it was perhaps the least of our concerns. Still we believed that a salary-based fee structure would raise significant pushback from faculty and higher-paid staff.

Using benchmark data from other institutions that use a salary-based system, we presented to the committee our largely-unfavorable findings, along with the benefits of continuing the existing rate plan based on higher rates for more desirable locations. We also presented a number of salary-based and geographic-based pricing scenarios.

Moving from a pricing system that was the same for everyone to a system that would have multiple prices posed significant operational challenges:

  • Many clinical faculty and some employees are paid from more than one source. Charging the correct price to thousands of employee parkers would require accurate capture of total income.
  • Correct pricing would also require a method to inform the parking system when salaries changed and employees moved from one salary tier to another.
  • Revenue projections would become less reliable because the revenue each space would generate would vary.

We made our chiefs aware of the significant amount of work the change would require for parking management, human resources, information technology, and payroll services, but we didn’t allow these challenges to enter into the discussion. The changes could be made, and if we expressed undue concern over the difficulties, it would only weaken our credibility, objectivity, and professionalism in the eyes of the committee members.

Combining Approaches
The decision by the RCM committee was to employ a combination of the two approaches:

  • The fee structure would continue to recognize the greater convenience of parking in the employee locations closest to major work sites by continuing price differential by parking zone.
  • There would be four salary tiers for each zone.
  • Employees in the highest salary tier would go straight to market rate the first year—a 118 percent increase.
  • Employees in the lowest salary tier would see a modest increase of 5.5 percent.
  • The two middle tiers would increase by 14.5 and 21.8 percent respectively.
  • The rate change would be effective in July 2013.
  • Increases would be scheduled for each tier for the following four years to achieve break-even in FY2018.
  • Each year during budget preparation, university administration would review the fiscal status of the parking system and the need to implement the rate increase authorized by the board of trustees.

In the end, changing rates based on salary levels was a philosophical issue. The reasoning of the RCM committee was that while rate increases could not be avoided, lower-paid employees should be protected from substantial increases. This fact, combined with balancing the parking budget, could only be achieved through a salary-based system.

When the decision was made for a salary-based fee structure, the parking management department signed on without reservation. Changing to a tiered rate structure required collaboration with university and hospital departments including information technology, payroll, and human resources groups. During a six-month period, we worked through all the implementation issues and hit the implementation date of July 1, 2013.

A piece of the implementation process was to change approximately 700 clinical faculty members from third-party pay (faculty practice) to self-pay by payroll deduction. To our surprise, we received only a handful of complaints from faculty members about having to start paying for their own parking. A second surprise was that about a dozen faculty members cancelled their parking. For one reason or another, they really didn’t need the parking or only needed it occasionally. Now that they were being required to pay, they thought better of it. It was a financial loss to us because we were paid twice for these spaces: once by the person using it (assigned through oversell capacity) and once by faculty practice for the faculty member to whom it was assigned but didn’t use it. Now, we were only being paid once. But it wasn’t a significant financial loss, and it was refreshing to see what happens when “free” is taken out of the parking equation.


Other benefits to parking have come from the RCM budget exercise and the decision about parking rates:

  • Increased recognition and respect for the parking department. Key administrators and high-level leadership became better informed about parking’s contributions and nuanced complexities—some had not been at all informed—through our presentations to the committee about parking’s operations, costs, service levels, effectiveness, efficiency, revenue, and overall contribution to the MUSC enterprise.
  • Change in attitude about paying for parking. Parking fees for clinical faculty had been paid by the faculty practice. Also, some departments paid for some of their faculty and a few staff members. Nobody wants to pay for parking, and the attitude of most employee parkers is that if they must pay, all should pay. Those who are the most able to pay should not have their fee paid for them. As a result of the colleges’ adoption of the RCM budget model and decisions about the parking rate structure, there has been a beneficial ripple effect across the university and medical center, resulting in payment-by-others being eliminated in all but a handful of cases.
  • New and increased sense of partnership and teamwork. Both the decision-making process and the implementation of the new rate scheme gave us the opportunity to work closely with university and hospital units on a project that affected all employees. We made discoveries that led to solutions that were better than we had anticipated, and our relationships were enhanced by greater mutual understanding and respect.

Good Leaders, Good Followers
The jury is still out on the longer-term effects of the ­salary-based fee structure and our concerns remain, but for now, benefits outweigh concerns. We put concerns aside because there are times when leaders must be followers. Now is that time for us. No grumbling or complaining about the lack of wisdom and understanding of others. No shifting of responsibility to senior leadership when we are sitting down with a customer who disagrees with the decision. No negative comments even when talking privately to colleagues who understand parking. We take responsibility for the decision and work for success of the program.

Melinda Scott Anderson, CAPP, is director of the office of parking management at the Medical University of South Carolina. She can be reached at andersme@musc.edu or 843.792.2597.

TPP-2015-01-Salary-Based Rates Take Off

SANDAG Parking Management Toolbox

TPP-2015-01-SANDAG Parking Management ToolboxBy Antoinette Meier, AICP, Marisa Mangan, and Brett Wood, CAPP

For cities well-staffed and versed in all things parking, it may seem easy: Assess the problem, apply the solution, and keep moving along. But what about communities or towns who have never even considered the benefits or impacts of parking management? How do they begin the process? How do they measure success? Is it a one-time endeavor?

These questions challenge planners, policy makers, and administrators throughout the country. Often times, parking management strategies are picked at random based on limited knowledge of their potential impacts. But what’s the basis behind the selection? And what’s the true issue to be solved? This myriad of questions is at the center of an effort led by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to help its local jurisdictions and communities tackle tough parking problems.

The Regional Parking Management Toolbox is an interactive tool that helps professionals in the region assess parking problems, define potential solutions, apply strategies, and communicate with the parking public. Through the development of this tool, the staff at SANDAG found that the application of parking management strategies was less about the solution and more about the process of defining, developing, and implementing the right mix of solutions. And the critical element involved in the success of parking management strategies? Using a community-driven process based in data and communication.

The Process of Parking Management
The prevailing finding from the development of the Regional Parking Management Toolbox was that the application of effective and successful parking management strategies is a multi-step process that requires input from multiple channels. It’s not as easy as pulling a book off the shelf and picking the strategy du jour. And those steps are somewhat introspective, defining who you are and what you really want to accomplish.

As we went through the process, we managed to define it in eight steps that start with the basic understanding of your program and end with a fully functioning parking management entity. So, what’s involved? Let’s take a look.

1. Identify Who You Are
The first step in the parking management process is truly understanding who you are. For SANDAG, the jurisdictions and entities vary from large urban centers to small coastal communities, as well as event generators and institutional uses. While there are certainly overlapping trends and issues among all of these entities, each location posed unique challenges for implementation, ongoing management, and application. By accurately defining your typology, your chances of successfully selecting and implementing the right parking management solution go up dramatically.

2. Understand What Your System Is Telling You
The second step, and perhaps one of the two most critical, is understanding what’s actually happening with your parking system. This step is highly rooted in data collection and analyses. The process of “knowing the numbers” about your system allows you to effectively diagnose the real problem (as opposed to the perceived problem) and apply management strategies that counter the problem. Data collection and analysis should include parking occupancy, parking duration, review of citations and trends, and user surveys. The results will typically begin to point you to the true nature of your parking issue.

3. Getting to the Root of the Real Issue
Once you have data, you can begin to diagnose the parking issue affecting your program. These issues could range from parking deficiencies to misuse of parking assets to cultural or behavioral issues. For the SANDAG Regional Parking Management Toolbox, we defined these problems based on those that typically plague their various communities. Using the results from steps 1 and 2, the toolbox user can begin to drill down on specific issues and challenges based on real data and community concerns.

4. Selecting the Right Approach
After defining the problem, the toolbox navigates users to choose a direction for the implementation of parking management strategies. Parking needs, characteristics, and resources can vary greatly between different communities, agencies, and institutions. However, there are a number of common parking management strategies that, if implemented appropriately, can be of great benefit for that parking program. These nine strategies are listed below:

  • Balancing competing users.
  • Enforcement and regulation.
  • Parking demand management.
  • Managing parking supply effectively;
  • Creating new parking supply.
  • Implementing and managing paid parking.
  • Transportation demand management strategies.
  • Sustainable parking initiatives.
  • Communication strategies.

5. Applying the Right Solution
Based on the defined direction from the previous step, the toolbox begins to lay out alternative solutions within each of the nine common parking management strategies. An alternative matrices of solutions is defined for each of the nine common parking management strategies , based on the program’s identified challenges. The matrix approach allows the toolbox user to compare a variety of solutions side by side, each tailored to the unique challenges of that community.

6. Trial and Error
To this point, the selection of management strategies has been largely theoretical, albeit based on community specific data. The sixth step involves moving from theory to actual application. But most evolved programs understand that full-scale implementation of new strategies and tools is not often the best strategy for success. Most communities are using pilot tests to understand the effectiveness of solutions, allowing parking professionals to assess and tweak implementation strategies to achieve the highest level of success. Pilot studies also allow for community involvement, helping the parking user understand the solution and define the direction of full implementation. After the completion of the trial-and-error period, a full-scale implementation is typically less challenging and much more effective.

7. Communicating Effectively
The seventh step doesn’t actually need to fall sequentially in order with the others. In fact, if you wait on this step, the solution has already likely failed. Effective communication is the other “most critical” component of parking management. Most evolved programs have learned that engaging the community helps to define the real problem, identify acceptable solutions, and smooth the implementation process by creating buy-in during the development process. Communication elements include program education, marketing, and community outreach.

8. Defining a Parking Program
A new program typically starts with a few strategies or policies cobbled together to counter parking issues as they emerge. However, over time, these strategies and policies need to give way to a larger management entity that begins to operate the parking system for the good of the community. This last step in the toolbox helps communities and jurisdictions pull this together, focusing on the key considerations for the evolution of a parking program. These include program structure, staffing considerations, operations and management technology, and budgeting/financing.

Putting it All Together
The prevailing finding from the development of the SANDAG Regional Parking Management Toolbox is that the implementation of parking management solutions is not cut-and-dry. Effective and successful implementation requires a well-thought out process, community involvement, and a reliance on local data. While the process is more cumbersome than selecting a strategy from a menu of solutions, the resulting implementation often leads to more positive program changes.

The toolbox was developed with input from numerous parking professionals throughout the country. Each provided a unique approach and context for inclusion in the toolbox, which helped to define a holistic strategy for implementing parking management strategies. While each professional provided a different perspective, the common theme echoed through: It’s all about the community and users. Define program elements for them and you will define a successful program.

The SANDAG Regional Parking Management Toolbox can be found on the agency’s website (sandag.org). The document, which is being developed into an interactive website for member jurisdictions, is available for download publicly. While the document is developed specifically for the communities in San Diego, it’s also likely a good reference document for communities throughout the country that are struggling with the challenges of implementing parking management solutions.

Antoinette Meier, AICP, is senior transportation planner with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). She can be reached at antoinette.meier@sandag.org.

Marisa Mangan is regional planner with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). She can be reached at marisa.mangan@sandag.org.

Brett Wood, CAPP, is a parking and transportation planner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. He can be reached at brett.wood@kimley-horn.com or 602.906.1144.

TPP-2015-01-SANDAG Parking Management Toolbox

Tech Check

TPP-2015-01-Tech CheckBy Pierre Koudelka

I had the pleasure of attending the Airports Council International (ACI) conference in Atlanta recently. Like any participant, I spent a good deal of time attending the seminars and walking through the exhibit hall. It became clear early on that ACI is a tight organization in that everyone seems to know everyone else; it also became clear that the organization spends a lot of its resources assisting airports on the airside of operations. I was especially interested in landside innovations, specifically airport parking systems. Having spent my entire career in the parking and revenue control industry, I wanted to see what innovations had captured the attention of ACI’s membership.

You would think the Internet would have tons of information and statistics on parking as it relates to airports across the country, but that isn’t the case for whatever reason. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw ACI dedicated a lecture to parking and how airports can increase revenues. I spent a good deal of time discussing new revenue sources with airport administrators who want to increase profits by providing new parking services. One lecture in particular, “New Strategies to Turn Your Car Lots into a Lot of Gold,” was right up my alley. The speakers and moderator (two consultants and a European airport professional) were quite good. They shared some good ideas about analyzing one’s operation, proper procedures they had just implemented, and recommendations that included new parking and revenue control systems (PARCS).

The European speaker immediately set the stage for advancements that, for the most part, haven’t yet been totally accepted in North America. Being a representative of one of Europe’s largest parking and revenue control manufacturers, I was very familiar with the concepts he presented. Although many areas were covered, four major areas caught my attention:

  • Pay-on-foot stations.
  • Parking reservation systems.
  • Credit cards.
  • Advertising.

Of particular interest during the sessions were the many statistics presented about parking and additional airport revenue, many of which seemed surprising to the people around me. Although these concepts were not new to me, many in the audience shook their heads. I’m not sure they all appreciated the reasons why these advancements in parking are so important and why they can substantially increase any airport’s revenue stream and profitably while improving the parking experience. No doubt, these services will all be used in North America in the not-too-distant future.

We have to accept the basic premise that labor costs in parking around the country have increased and that most, if not all, parking-related firms are trying to become more efficient and competitive while simultaneously cutting back on labor costs when possible. The exit-lane cashier booth—an American invention—is doomed. Not only are manned exit booths expensive to operate, but they are rather inefficient; exit cashiering is slow and subject to error and shrinkage.

In the past, airports were noted for having long lines at parking exits whenever a large jet landed. This was time consuming and wasted gas, not to mention straining one’s patience after a long, arduous trip. Collecting money in a lane by any means can be inefficient and problematic—both cashiers and automatic devices have proven to slow exiting traffic. I’m not a proponent of pay-in-lane devices, and I feel they should be avoided whenever possible if you wish to improve operations. I know that may sound strange as we all grew up with cashier exits, but it’s true with today’s technology. Granted, this may not apply in all cases. Greater automation is the prevailing standard today, but any change has to be done wisely and correctly.

Embracing Pay-on-Foot
The Europeans introduced pay-on-foot stations in the 1980s. Pay-on-foot stations came to North America in the 1990s and weren’t really accepted until 2000. Even today, many U.S. airports have not yet installed them. Many say we are slow to accept innovation and that it is a cultural thing, but I disagree. We Americans have always been innovators. I think this hesitation is more generational. We are anxious about change, which sometimes forces a conservative approach—perhaps oe that is too conservative when it pertains to parking.

What is a pay-on-foot station, and why is it so much better for any airport operation? Located inside the terminal, think of a pay-on-foot station as a parking ATM that replaces a cashier at the exit. It takes your parking ticket, reads it, calculates the charge, accepts your money or credit card, and hands you a pass to get out. Why is this better than an exit-lane cashier? It works 24/7, doesn’t error, and the processing time is spent in the comfort of a well-lit, well-heated or air conditioned secure airport foyer so that when a driver gets to the exit point and inserts his ticket (exit pass) in the exit column, the gate opens in just seconds. This speed is absolutely an essential benefit. Granted, if the driver is prepared with money and ticket in-hand and the cashier is fast and doesn’t say much, the transaction time may go down to 30 seconds with a cashier lane. But a pay-on-foot system helps those long lines at airport exits disappear, diminishes traveler frustration, and makes the entire parking experience more pleasant.

Why some airports are still reluctant to use pay-on-foot stations is a wonder. I have been to Europe many times and can seldom find an exit cashier booth in any parking operation. When you do the math, these machines make all the sense in the world for any airport. The speaker I recently heard said his airport was essentially automated due in part to these machines throughout.

Some opponents of pay-on-foot tell me that not all their customers have credit cards. That’s true, but does one design their operation around that one exception or do you service the larger majority of your customers? Customers who prefer can always pay with cash, but it makes good sense to at least give cardholders the benefit of a faster exit lane.

I’m not a believer that you have to discount a lane to encourage credit card use in airport parking facilities. That is not to say a promotion of sorts can’t be tried early on to encourage use of credit card lanes. But honestly, I see credit cards as self-sustaining. As soon as folks stuck in a cashier lane with 10 cars ahead of them see that credit cards lanes are moving fast, they’ll decide to use a card themselves next time.

Oh yes, the other reason we all like credit cards is that they help ensure accountability. Many airport parking facilities say up to 90 percent of their transactions are handled via credit cards, and that’s great for everyone.

The last topic that was discussed at ACI that I found most interesting was Web-based reservation. What is it, and why is it good for airports?

Every airport I know of is looking for ways to maximize revenue. Being able to offer a patron a way to reserve a parking space well in advance can be beneficial to all: It gets the facility money well in an advance and usually with a cost premium of 10 to 20 percent per space. It also allows management to estimate use and better forecast demand; you know if you’re going to be full or empty a week from today, which gives you a week to promote these unclaimed spaces through advertising. At the same time, it provides patrons with a great service.

How does it work? Very simply, the airport’s website has a reservations page. Nearly all parking equipment manufacturers are able to link to those websites easily. Once the system is activated, a patron enters his departing and return dates. A fee is shown and the customer pays by credit card. When he arrives at the airport, he presents his credit card or receipt (printed at home) to an automated reader, which allows entry.

This service can also be offered so travel agencies can book a plane flight and parking space at the same time and usually get a commission for it so everyone benefits. The patron knows that when he gets to the airport, a space will be waiting for him even if the garage is full. Some systems offer closer-in spaces, and others go so far as to have rental cars waiting at the destination airport. Others make duty-free purchases in advance and have them waiting for travelers at the gate. I hear these systems have caught the attention of the airlines as well, and they’re interested in the marketing information airport reservations systems accumulate,
which can identify client bases and demographics.

This same information allows the airport to communicate directly with clients, which hasn’t been possible up to now. I’m willing to say right now, cultural differences notwithstanding, Web-based reservations are going to become very popular in the next few years. The speaker at ACI stated that his airport reservations accounted for a majority of all transactions already and he expects it to increase even more.

Although parking reservations have been around and offered for years, only now are North American airports and the private sector starting to look at them as a profitable service they can offer their clients to make travel as easy and enjoyable as possible. And, by the way, don’t feel you have to engage only one single reservations supplier. There is no reason you can’t have many different suppliers on your website all linked to offer a wide range of services to all your patrons.

The other aspect not always used to the maximum here is advertising. Being able and willing to really promote parking has many benefits, as it allows you to manage your operations better. If you see a lull in parking next week, you can adjust pricing via advertising and try and fill those spaces. A discounted space is better than an empty space, I always say. Promotions should become a continual work in progress as you begin to steer the ship to profitability.

For all of you in attendance at ACI who had questions and for those who didn’t have a chance to attend that event, I hope we were able to answer some of the questions I was being asked in the hallway. Hope to see you at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas!

Pierre Koudelka is business development airport segment manager for Skidata Inc. He can be reached at pierre.koudelka@skidata.com

TPP-2015-01-Tech Check

Starting On The Right Foot

TPP-2015-01-Starting On The Right FootBy Casey Wagner, PE

When I first set out to choose a career, I didn’t picture myself as a parking professional. In fact, as a college student in 1993, I probably didn’t even realize that there was such a thing. But more than 20 years later, I’m a confirmed parking lifer and I owe it all to an internship program.

Like millions of other young professionals, I sought out internship opportunities during my freshman year in college as a way to make a little money and learn about the design industry. I had just finished my first year at the University of Illinois and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had always been fascinated with buildings and looked at structural engineering firms close to my hometown, hoping an internship would give me a chance to learn and confirm whether engineering was for me.

One of the most interesting opportunities was offered by Walker Parking Consultants. My coursework had revolved around basic engineering and chemistry, physics, and drafting. I certainly wasn’t learning how to design parking garages! The thought of learning a new type of engineering—one that plays such an important role in our communities—was intriguing, so I decided to accept an offer to intern at the company’s headquarters in Elgin, Ill. I soon found that my internship was like an after-school program that rounded out my education. I was learning design
lessons and approaches they didn’t teach in my college engineering classes! Exposure to budgets, design process, quality control, and the importance of effective communication was incredible for my growth as a budding engineer and sparked an entrepreneurial identity.

The Internship Experience

From the beginning, I knew it was a great fit. I fell in love with the people and the corporate culture, and I fit right in. While I mostly handled office work early on, I eventually got an opportunity to learn all facets of the parking business, including design, consulting, client management, and firm management. I was interacting with firm clients every day and gained a new perspective on what they needed, not just in terms of design but in terms of client service as well. This wasn’t just learning how to design structures; it was a series of lessons on how to operate a business.

The firm’s leaders generously offered me access to their time and expertise. They were some of the best and brightest professionals in the parking industry, and the lessons they taught me were invaluable.

I continued to intern with Walker the next two summers and worked on many interesting projects. Some of the most enjoyable revolved around special events, which let me oversee data collection that included car and occupancy counts at Chicago Cubs, White Sox, and Bulls games. Getting to work at professional sporting events was a treat, but more importantly, presented a chance to learn about all the elements of parking consulting, not just engineering and design. This experience was putting me on the fast track to firm management with a three-year head start on other engineers at my level and experience in firm management that came from the industry’s most accomplished and experienced leaders.

Walker offered me a job after graduation, and there was never any doubt about whether I would take it. I didn’t even solicit or consider any other job opportunities. That internship program had an extraordinary effect on my career. In fact, it set in motion a life-long love affair with the industry. But the benefits of an internship program flow in both directions. Organizations can also derive extraordinary benefits.

Internship Benefits
The most obvious benefit, of course, is that internship programs provide an opportunity to give promising young parking professionals a try-out. Book smarts are one thing, but not every straight-A student is marked for success. Internships give organizations a chance to see how prospective stars perform in a business environment, away from the ivory towers of the college world.

Equally important are the corporate culture benefits. Internship programs provide an opportunity for organizations to immerse promising interns in their corporate culture. Not only does this give organizations a chance to determine whether the intern is a good fit, but it also serves as a sort of cultural training ground that ensures the prospect will be ready to seamlessly fit into the corporate culture if and when he or she officially joins the team.

Also, as important as internships can be in providing young engineers a head start on their careers, these programs also give organizations a head start in preparing rising stars for leadership roles. Organizational leaders are in a position to identify those interns who show the most promise to become leaders and then provide mentorship to help them learn the skills and gain the experience they need to start on a management path. As in my case, an internship can be the first step toward helping run an organization in the future.

Finally, internship programs are essential to creating tomorrow’s parking professionals. Colleges aren’t currently turning out parking professionals—they are turning out engineers, architects, and urban planners, some of whom find their way to parking. The parking industry needs young stars who live, eat, and breathe parking. The industry needs people who recognize the vital role that parking plays in our communities and who want to be part of that. As I experienced firsthand, an internship program can be the perfect way to introduce young engineers, architects, and planners to parking and turn them into parking professionals.

Unfortunately, too many organizations treat internships as sources of inexpensive labor. They restrict students to doing grunt work, rather than letting them get involved with more important functions like design, planning, or even client relations. Organizations that treat internships like entry-level temp agencies don’t just shortchange their interns; they shortchange themselves as well.

Organizations that make a commitment to assuring that the internship experience is meaningful and productive for students will also find that the business or institution itself will derive extraordinary benefits. And they will help create the next generation of parking professionals.

Casey Wagner, PE, is a senior vice president of Walker Parking Consultants and managing principal of Walker’s Houston office. He can be reached at casey.wagner@walkerparking.com. 


Three Ways to Ensure a Successful Internship Program
By Christopher Brennan, PE
Internships can offer a win-win situation for organizations and young professionals alike. Organizations benefit by having early access to young potential stars, being able to see how well they perform away from the classroom, and having an early opportunity to introduce the organization’s culture to them. At the same time, students benefit by having a chance to learn skills that aren’t taught in the classroom and get a head start on their careers with potential employers. Many organizations have internship programs, but all too often, these programs fail to make the grade.

Here are three tips for making sure your intern program is a success:

  • Give Interns Responsibility. Too many organizations view their interns merely as inexpensive office help. If your interns’ workdays revolve around filing and other menial tasks, you are wasting a tremendous resource and doing a disservice to the students you are supposed to be training. Give interns an opportunity to do real work. If your organization designs parking facilities or creates parking plans, let students participate in the creative process. If you develop parking technologies, let them help write code or participate in development meetings. Not only will the students get more out of their experience, but you’ll likely find that they have useful skills and good ideas you can use.

    Treat Interns Like Members of the Staff.
    Let your interns sit in on staff meetings and let them work with firm leaders. They are there to learn your business, and that includes how to run it. Give them full access to the business side of what you do, including how decisions are made and how leaders behave. For many organizations, this is the first step to creating future leaders.
  • Partner With The Right Colleges And Universities. This may seem obvious, but not all universities are created equal. Nor are all schools the right fit for every organization. Our office, for instance, partners with local universities with co-op programs. This gives our interns an opportunity to incorporate their internships into their degree programs. The benefits to the student are obvious—they receive guidance from educators and earn credit for their work with us. But it also benefits our organization by providing a more formal structure to the intern program and input from our interns’ educators.

A successful internship program benefits both the intern and the organization. Organizations that follow these three simple rules will find that they and their interns will have a more meaningful experience.

Chris Brennan, PE, is director of operations for Walker Parking Consultants’ Boston office and oversees the office’s internship program.

TPP-2015-01-Starting On The Right Foot

Spiraling Upward

TPP-2015-01-Spiraling UpwardBy Juan Ramos, LEED AP BD+C

The City of Allentown, Pa., is experiencing a significant makeover of its downtown as a result of many exciting development plans. During the course of two short years, the city and its downtown core have transformed from a rather uninviting stretch of pawnshops, tattoo parlors, and old dilapidated buildings to a vibrant mix of restaurants, office space, and commercial activity. Anchoring this transformation is the new PPL Center, a 10,000-seat arena that’s the new home of the Philadelphia Flyers’ minor league affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The arena will host all Phantoms home games, as well as a variety of concerts and entertainment attractions.

The redevelopment of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city will continue to serve as an important economic boon for Allentown and surrounding areas. But perhaps more important is the example that it offers to inspire similar efforts in other struggling, post-industrial cities throughout the country.

While there are still a number of projects planned for the continued redevelopment of Allentown, one of the most important considerations was, of course, parking. Currently, design is underway to add an approximately 1,000-space parking facility near the PPL Center sports arena site to help significantly alleviate the parking needs of the current and future downtown development. The Community Lot parking facility will include design elements to accommodate future retail and residential space, which will serve as an inviting destination for residents and visitors of the area while helping generate street-level activity.

Because the PPL Center was scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, city officials needed to make plans to accommodate growing parking needs as soon as possible while also utilizing already-existing parking resources. Thus began plans for the renovation of the Hess Deck parking facility.

The Pedestrian Experience
One of the most important enhancements required for this project was the pedestrian traffic flow from the garage to the PPL Center. This was not only important to create a more safe and convenient experience for users, but would also become an important ingress and egress issue during events with large crowds. Getting people to and from the PPL Center in a quick and convenient manner would reduce pedestrian and vehicular conflicts, create a more pleasant overall experience, and encourage people to return in the future.

The existing parking facility featured a tunnel beneath the structure that was open to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic and served as a drop-off area for students of a Montessori school. While the tunnel provided numerous benefits for improving pedestrian and vehicular traffic, it was dark, uninviting, and built at a vehicular scale, creating an unpleasant and unsafe perception for users.

The project team and the city worked together to identify opportunities to create a better feeling and perception of the Lumber Street tunnel. Improvements included painting the walls, adding multiple LED light fixtures, and installing metal panels on the ceiling to create a more pedestrian-friendly scale. The walkway can be seen as a continuation of the pedestrian corridor created with the existing Robert Stern Plaza, which links Linden Street and Hamilton Street.

Enhancing Common Spaces
Another important transformation of the pedestrian experience was the considerable decrease in walking distances for patrons from the parking facility to the multiple downtown destinations. Two elevators were located on the west side of the building and the lobby opened up toward Ninth Street. This required patrons to walk the entire distance around the parking facility.

To alleviate this issue, the design team proposed cutting through an existing loading dock and providing a ramp that opens to the Lumber Street tunnel. This modification alone reduced walking distances from approximately 934 feet to 293 feet, through a well-lit, and covered area, helping dramatically improve the user experience immediately upon arrival.

The challenge this presented was that pedestrians would exit the lobby directly onto an active street. The solution was to create a raised crosswalk and open the south façade of the corridor with a curtain-wall. This helped with passive security, allowed pedestrians and drivers to see each other, and established a safe crosswalk that substantially improved pedestrian safety because drivers intuitively avoid parking on it when queuing up to pick up and drop off children at the school.

In 2005, several renovations were made to the garage by a local firm, including enhancements to a pedestrian corridor opening up to Ninth Street and a one-stop elevator that allowed parkers on the second tier to have very convenient access to the PPL Office building.

While the location of this second elevator tower was actually more convenient to serving the new development taking place in the city, the elevator only travelled up to the second level of the garage. To create a better user experience and assist with pedestrian ingress and egress, the project included the demolition of the existing elevator and the addition of a new elevator.

Branding and Wayfinding

The Parking Authority wanted to upgrade the branding and wayfinding system within and around the parking facility to create a more clear and effective messaging system for its patrons. First and foremost, the city took the opportunity to officially adopt the “Spiral Deck” name. This was easy to do, as the structure had long been known by this name in the community thanks to its iconic concrete ramp.

The long walls of the corridors were used as backdrops for large stenciled wall graphics that help fill these spaces with color and direct pedestrians to their various destinations. The new signage system also included changing the level designations from letters to numbers, which has helped garage users while improving the experience for garage staff performing maintenance and other work within the facility.

The design team also worked with the Montessori school to create new signage for them. This not only gave the school a more modern look but also enriched the aesthetic view of the ground level of the garage for students and passersby.

Design Elements
The design approach was to work with the beautiful shapes from the original Brutalist Building and to try to incorporate features from the previous renovations so the building as a whole had a cohesive look to it, all the while focusing on the most important issue of all—improving the user experience and having a positive effect on the community.

Local Allentown firm the Architectural Studio had a very thoughtful approach to its design. The materials were elegant and worked very well to complement the building. Steel beams were integrated to accent the elevator lobbies and vehicular entry/exits. A steel bent plate wraps around the top-tier lobby and turns downward, framing the new elevator tower. The same patterns and proportions cast in concrete were implemented to the metal panels.

The sloped shapes for the signage and the metal ceiling panels were continuations of the slopes of the concrete beams running perpendicular to Linden Street.

The already-iconic spiral feature of the facility provided a valuable opportunity not to enhance, but celebrate the façade of the structure. Design team member West Side Hammer came up with a great solution to use light to “paint” the spiral. This offers the opportunity to change the look of the garage throughout the year to promote a variety of events and milestones, such as orange during Phantoms games, pink during breast cancer awareness month, and much more.

An existing concrete plaza was enhanced with grass pavers, flowering ornamental trees, elegant lighting and benches that also serve as bike racks. This area became a foreground for the spiral and a great space for people to meet before attending an event.

The redevelopment of the Allentown commercial district has helped to transform the city into a more vibrant and attractive community, while significantly increasing its economic viability and potential. The current and planned addition of entertainment destinations, restaurants, and residential and commercial developments will no doubt continue to rejuvenate the city, and will serve as a catalyst for further improvement and revitalization of surrounding communities.

The growth and energy we see in this city reflects the personalities of its inhabitants. From the parking authority employees and city officials to the construction team of Boyle Construction and CMG, the entire team worked tirelessly to ensure that the project came together. Each team member understood the importance of improving the quality of life for the people who park in the area every day, as well as the visitors to the PPL Center.

Juan Ramos, LEED AP BD+C, is project designer for Timothy Haahs & Associates, Inc. He can be reached at jramos@timhaahs.com.

TPP-2015-01-Spiraling Upward

The Two Tier Solution

TPP-2015-01-The Two Tier SolutionBy Donald Shoup and Fernando Torres-Gil

Almost everyone can tell an anecdote about disabled placard abuse. One of mine stems from a visit to the California capitol building in Sacramento. After noticing that cars with disabled placards occupied almost all the metered curb spaces surrounding the Capitol, I talked to one of the state troopers guarding a driveway entrance. He watched all the arrivals and departures at the nearby metered spaces every day. When I asked the trooper to estimate how many of the placards he thought were being used illegally, he responded, “All of them.”

Newspapers often report placard abuse, such as the scandal that occurred when 22 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) football players were found using disabled placards to park on campus; the athletes got their placards by forging doctors’ signatures for such conditions as asthma and palsy. UCLA seems unusual only in the large number of athletes who were caught misusing disabled placards, because similar scandals have erupted on other campuses. Placard abuse is common enough to have its own website: handicappedfraud.org.

Making curb parking accessible to people with disabilities is an essential goal, but treating disabled placards as free parking passes has encouraged widespread abuse by able-bodied drivers who simply want to park wherever they want, whenever they want, without paying anything. Because of the widespread abuse, disabled placards do not guarantee a physical disability. Instead, they often signal a desire to park free and a willingness to cheat the system.

Widespread Abuse
Frequent and flagrant disabled placard abuse makes it harder for drivers with serious mobility impairment to find convenient parking. If all the curb spaces near their destinations are occupied by placard abusers, drivers with severely impaired mobility must park farther away or even abandon their trips. Reducing placard abuse will therefore increase accessibility for drivers with serious disabilities. The goal should be to give convenient access to mobility-impaired drivers, not to subsidize every car with a disabled placard.

State governments encourage placard abuse by mandating that any driver with a disabled placard may park free for an unlimited time at any municipal on-street meter. Drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco can save up to $40 a day by using a disabled placard at a parking meter. The high cash value of a placard and its ease of abuse help explain why 2.1 million people in California have disabled placards.

Placard abusers not only harm the disabled community but also damage businesses and kill jobs. A UCLA study in downtown Los Angeles found that cars with disabled placards park an average of seven times longer than other cars. One placard abuser thus takes up a space that would otherwise be used by seven paying parkers. By reducing turnover, placard abusers thus steal parking spaces from customers of nearby businesses.

Placard abusers also steal public revenue. The UCLA study found that 44 percent of the cars parked at meters in downtown Los Angeles displayed disabled placards. Meters on one block charged $4 an hour but earned only $.28 an hour because cars with placards occupied most of the spaces for most of the day. Several drivers with disabled placards were observed carrying heavy loads between their cars and the adjacent businesses. The meter exemption is an invitation to obtain and abuse placards for personal gain.

Because California requires free parking at meters for placard users without compensating cities for the lost revenue, the meter exemption is an unfunded mandate. How big is this unfunded mandate? If, for example, cities lose meter revenue of only $100 a year per placard, the total statewide loss is $210 million each year lost to placards. Little of that subsidy benefits drivers with seriously impaired mobility. An audit in San Francisco found that the city lost $22.7 million in 2013 because cars with disabled placards accounted for 20 percent of all the occupied time at on-street meters.

Equal access under the Americans with Disabilities Act should mean convenient parking for every person with a fundamental disability, not free parking for every car with a disabled placard. Because of widespread abuse, we cannot assume every driver with a placard has a serious physical disability that impairs mobility.

Placard abuse is not a victimless crime. If all Americans knew the extent of this uncontrolled abuse, most would be outraged, and the rest might try to get their hands on a placard if they don’t already have one. Placard abusers learn to live without their scruples but not without their cars.

Requiring all placard holders to pay at meters would eliminate the financial incentive for fraud. Nevertheless, some drivers have disabilities that severely limit mobility, and free parking at meters greatly increases their access. Rather than require all placard holders to pay at meters, states can adopt a two-tier reform that allows free parking at meters for everyone with a disability that seriously limits their mobility.

The Two-Tier Solution
Michigan and Illinois have adopted a two-tier system that takes into account different levels of disability. Drivers with disabilities that seriously limit mobility continue to park free at meters. Drivers with less serious disabilities must pay at meters. Enforcement is simple: Able-bodied drivers who use the special serious-disability placard that allows free parking at meters are obviously breaking the law as soon as they hop out of a car and stride away.

Giving free parking only to drivers who have serious physical disabilities can eliminate the scourge of placard abuse and thus ensure convenient parking for truly disabled drivers. This new policy can be based on the models in Michigan and Illinois.

To explain the two-tier reform, here is the key provision in the Illinois law:
The Secretary of State . . . shall issue a meter-­exempt decal or device to a person with disabilities who . . . is unable to . . . approach a parking meter due to his or her use of a wheelchair or other device for mobility or walk more than 20 feet due to an orthopedic, neurological, cardiovascular, or lung condition in which the degree of debilitation is so severe that it almost completely impedes the ability to walk.

In addition to exempting drivers with impaired mobility, the Illinois law also exempts persons who can walk but are unable to operate a parking meter. Many of those who cannot operate a parking meter, however, are chauffeured by someone who can operate a parking meter. To accommodate the few who do drive but cannot operate a parking meter, cities can waive the usual transaction surcharges for paying by cell phones or other in-vehicle devices.

States can also mandate additional measures to ensure that convenient meter spaces are available to drivers with limited mobility. For example, the state can require cities to dedicate a specific share of convenient curb spaces only for cars with a limited-mobility disabled placard, and these spaces would not need meters.

When Illinois adopted the two-tier reform, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “This law is about preserving free on-street parking for motorists with disabilities that prevent them from being able to pay a meter.” The Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities said, “The availability of accessible parking has long been an issue that needed to be addressed on behalf of the disability community. The high level of abuse prevents people with disabilities from carrying out day-to-day activities and also limits their full participation in the community.”

The two-tier reform will greatly reduce the financial incentives to cheat and will improve life for everyone except drivers who now abuse disabled placards. If a state does remove its mandate for free parking at meters for all cars with placards, however, any city can continue to offer free parking at its own meters for all cars with placards.

Using the New Revenue

The two-tier reform will reduce placard abuse and increase accessibility for drivers with impaired mobility, but it will also require meter payments from legitimate placard holders with less severe disabilities. Although the goal of reform is to curb placard abuse, the increased meter payments can give the impression that cities want reform mainly because they want the meter revenue. To encourage the disabled community to support the two-tier reform, states can require cities to dedicate the new meter revenue to pay for services that can benefit people with disabilities, such as safer sidewalks, curb ramps, and audible devices at pedestrian crosswalks to assist the visually impaired across intersections.

Because California has issued 2.1 million disabled placards for its 24 million licensed drivers, about 9 percent of all drivers have placards. To improve life for the disabled community after placard reform, the state could require cities to dedicate 10 percent of their total meter revenue to increase mobility services for all people with disabilities. In 2012, cities and counties reported $410 million in parking revenues. A 10 percent dedication for placard reform could therefore provide about $41 million a year for disabled mobility services.

Much of the new meter revenue will come not from drivers with disabilities but from the profligate and unmonitored parking subsidies now being stolen by placard abusers. A study in Alexandria, Va., illustrates how placard reform can greatly benefit the entire disabled community. Police officers who interviewed drivers returning to cars displaying disabled placards found that 90 percent of the placards checked were being used illegally. These placard abusers therefore stole 90 percent of the meter subsidy intended for people with disabilities. Spending the full meter subsidy to provide public services that benefit all people with disabilities seems much fairer and more efficient than wasting 90 percent of the subsidy to provide free parking for placard abusers.

Reduced Placard Abuse and Increased Disabled Accessibility
Beyond improving access for drivers with severe disabilities and providing funds to finance new mobility services, the two-tier solution will counter the culture of corruption that has developed around disabled parking placards. States encourage this licensed fraud by making placard abuse easy, profitable, and rarely punished. Because enforcement is so difficult and the chance of getting a ticket is so low, even high fines do not prevent abuse.

This simple two-tier solution will reduce placard abuse, increase accessibility for drivers with severe disabilities, and finance added services for all people with disabilities.

Donald Shoup is distinguished professor of urban planning in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and the author of “The High Cost of Free Parking.“ He can be reached at shoup@ucla.edu.

Fernando Torres-Gil is professor of social welfare and public policy in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and a former U.S. assistant secretary on aging. He can be reached at torres@luskin.ucla.edu.

TPP-2015-01-The Two Tier Solution

Reset Your Marketing in the New Year

TPP-2015-01-Reset Your Marketing in the New YearBy Bill Smith

Don’t you hate New Year’s resolution articles? Now that the calendar has changed over, experts are climbing over each other to offer top 10 lists about how to run your organization better, blogs are full of pithy entries with Father Time references, and social media outlets are crammed with links to 2015 forecasts. You need a break, don’t you?

I’ve got bad news: You’ve come to the wrong place. The truth is that when it comes to marketing, the new year presents the perfect opportunity to evaluate and refresh your marketing efforts. It’s not just a good idea—it’s essential. Your competition has probably already hit the reset button and begun ramping up their marketing.

Why is this the time for a marketing reset? Because the industry is on the move again. The parking industry is more entrepreneurial than ever, with equipment and technology providers introducing a steady stream of new tools that are redefining how we park and how facilities are managed. Development is taking place across the U.S., and parking designers and planners are in high demand. And owners and operators find themselves locked in stiff competition for parkers’ business. For forward-thinking organizations that have a handle on their marketing, these are exciting times. But those who don’t keep up will be left in the dust.

Here are three New Year’s resolutions to help your organization meet the challenge.

Rethink Your Brand

Your brand isn’t just about what you do or what you’ve done in the past. It’s about who you are and why you do what you do. If you are a designer or planner, you don’t just design facilities or create parking plans; you transform communities, promote local business development, or make operators’ properties more desirable to tenants and other customers. If you are a technology or equipment provider, you don’t just design and market equipment; you change the way people park and make it more convenient, comfortable, safer, profitable, or manageable. If you’re an owner or operator, you don’t just provide a place to park; you offer a valuable, safe, and convenient service.

The first step in your marketing reset is to rethink what your organization does and what it represents—what sets you apart—and make your people think in these terms. Then start communicating what makes you indispensable to customers. Don’t be afraid to seek out a brand transformation firm that can help you identify and articulate what makes your organization special.

In with the New
The 21st century is all about new media, right? Not exactly. Traditional media still offer extraordinary reach. Look for opportunities in industry, business, and general media to publicize your products and services to customers and prospects. As you introduce new products or look to establish your organization as a leader and your people as authorities, publicity is still the best and most cost-effective ways to reach huge numbers of people.

Your website is another 20th century technology that’s essential to marketing. Does your online identity reflect your newly updated brand? If not, it’s time to update the site.

Getting Social
Many organizations have been slow to jump on the social media bandwagon. If you haven’t yet, now is the time. Create a social media strategy through which you are informing the marketplace about what’s going on with your organization and its products and services. Be sure to coordinate your social media campaign with your web marketing and publicity efforts.

Most importantly, make sure that all of the elements of your revamped marketing effort are coordinated. Messages should be consistent and the different elements—website, publicity, social media—need to present synchronized messages across all platforms.

Sure, it’s a cliché, but the new year brings new opportunities. Now is the time to reset your marketing if you want to keep up with your competition.

Bill Smith, APR, is principal of Smith-Phillips Strategic Communications and contributing editor of The Parking Professional. He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com or 603.491.4280.

TPP-2015-01-Reset Your Marketing in the New Year

Greening the Air(ports)

TPP-2015-01-Greening the Air(ports)By Michael Cramer

I spent a recent drive to the airport thinking about how to write a column on airport operations with a sustainability angle. It’s a challenge because my 30-year career has been in class-A office tower, and while I’m sure airports have lots of sustainability programs, I don’t know about any of them.

I merged onto the crowded freeway, moved over one lane, took the correct exit, and then bore toward the left fork on the ramp. Each decision I made was assisted by either a sign or roadway graphics. Gradually, an idea emerged: I don’t work at an airport, but I fly a lot. I’d just used a series of static signs to perform a tricky freeway maneuver. Getting to my flight was part of a larger process.

Airports are notorious for being confusing, and as I drove, I considered how technology might help the process. The easier it is to navigate, the faster people can park, drop off, or pick up. That means fewer carbon emissions and less wasted fuel and time. There was my sustainability angle.

On my drive to the airport and then to the terminals, the signs were static. Unfamiliar drivers have to read the signs, process the information, and then perform maneuvers that take them to one of several terminals.

Drivers could skip the airport experience by parking at one of several off-airport locations conveniently located on the main drive. The approach to the airport is the perfect place to incorporate dynamic signs that let drivers know the number of available spaces at on- and off-airport parking facilities. The airport parking authority and off-airport operators could coordinate their control systems through a cloud-based solution that fed dynamic signs. At busy airports, such a system would reduce congestion, fuel waste, and the population of nervous drivers looking for parking.

Driving into the airport complex, static directional signs indicated terminals used by the airlines. It is a long list and more than once, I’ve forgotten my terminal before reaching the end. Dynamic signs might be more effective because they could be programmed to show fewer airlines at one time but the scroll could be coordinated over several signs.

Approaching my terminal’s parking garage, the signs become very confusing. Motorists slow to process signs but regular airport traffic does not. It is easy to miss a sign and find yourself in the wrong lane at the critical moment. A barrage of signs adds to the confusion. Regulars, including shuttle drivers, know what to do. For others, there are three options: parking, dropping off, and picking up. Simpler, dynamic signs would guide infrequent parkers to one of the options.

Inside the garage begins the greatest time-wasting, ­fuel-guzzling process: the hunt for the best parking space. How about parking guidance? The knock on these systems is that they are expensive. Prices are dropping, though, and I think they’ll become increasingly cost effective as sustainability drives operational efficiencies. Ideally, the systems could be programmed to lead parkers to the most desirable spaces on a first-come basis. By following the guidance system, parkers will go to the best available space. As I rarely find anything next to the elevator, I’m good with the best available.

Eventually, I parked and pulled my bags from the trunk. I looked around and snapped a photo of where I was parked. But where were the elevators? There were no readily visible signs, so I had to guess the direction. Pedestrian-oriented signs are crucial. I don’t see them very often in airports.

Inside the busy airport, signs smoothly guide you to your departure gate. They aren’t overwhelming, nor complicated. Why couldn’t parking be as easy? Ironically, my flight was delayed. The airplane went to the wrong gate.

Michael Cramer is executive vice president of Winpark and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at michael.cramer@winpark.com or 832.786.3741.

TPP-2015-01-Greening the Air(ports)

Setting the Airport Ground Transport Road Map

TPP-2015-01-Setting the Airport Ground Transport Road Map
By Cristina Lynn and Shane de Wit

We’ve all been told, “Don’t run before you can walk.” How many times have we tried to do so, whether physically or metaphorically? And what were the results?

Airports around the world find themselves in various states of development, whether due to demand for travel and interest on the part of the airlines or as a result of their current ownership, management, or access to resources. The supply of ground transport services, which are often a major source of non-aeronautical revenue, sometimes lag behind demand. Investment in infrastructure is expensive and the land required to meet demand conflicts with other development.

Planning for ground transport must be an integral part of an airport’s master planning process. Similarly, the types of products offered as part of the ground transport strategy need to be aligned to current and future demand, access to other modes of transport, and the ability of the airport to meet marketing and management requirements to analyze the ground transport business and make informed decisions.

The chart below illustrates the typical development journey for airport parking and provides a roadmap of the potential journey airports might consider.

The development road map illustrates the steps that can be taken to advance the business. Each step provides the foundation of the next step in the journey, helping the business prioritize initiatives.

At the facility stage, a small regional airport may have identified the need to provide controlled or paid parking in the vicinity of the terminal, leaving long-term customers to park for free in informal areas further away. Lack of control will also mean lack of information about the customers’ current behaviors, length of stay, and car park occupancy. This makes planning for future growth difficult and does not give management a clear picture of the potential of the parking business. Parking is seen as a facility or, at best, a service that must be provided, instead of as an opportunity to enhance the customer’s airport experience and add to profitability.

A managed ground transport facility will have controlled parking areas that feature product definition (long term/short term/business/valet and associated areas for other transport options). Information produced by the access control system is reported upon by a dedicated person or team.

Progression to a marketed approach is marked by the identification of customer segments and development of specific product, pricing, and marketing strategies to attract business from other modes of transport. Regular market research is undertaken to gain customer insights and understand the key attributes that will attract customers. A strategic plan and marketing budget with a long-term view is developed. This entails understanding future demand and how and where parking will be delivered.

Airports that reach the optimized stage implement strategies to maximize the return from their parking assets by applying more sophisticated and technologically savvy strategies such as variable pricing, online booking engines, and high level of communication strategies with their customers. Yield management will ensure that the profitability of the parking business for the airport is maximixed. They clearly understand parking’s role as an integrated element of the passenger’s journey, and parking is incorporated with other areas of the airport. Technology is used to enhance the customer’s experience.

By adopting a strategic approach to the development of the parking and ground transport business, airports will ensure that they achieve ever-improving results and maintain a high level of customer service.

Cristina Lynn is managing partner of Parking & Traffic Consultants. She can be reached at cristina.lynn@parkingconsultants.com.

Shane de Wit is partner and senior consultant at Parking & Traffic Consultants. He can be reached at shane.dewit@parkingconsultants.com.

TPP-2015-01-Setting the Airport Ground Transport Road Map