Tag Archives: TPP-2015-06

Not-So-Mysterious Millenials

TPP-2015-06-Not-So-Mysterious MillenialsBy Joe Balskus, PE, PTOE

It is often said that if you want to learn something, you must experience it. So I did something different while researching this article—something a millennial would do. I researched my topic totally online, including newspaper and magazine articles I would have searched for in print another time. Aside from some personal interviews and surveys, it was all electronic. I wanted to be succinct and informative with some discussion about millennials in the workplace and how we as an industry need to be better prepared for them—to manage and be managed by them and have them as customers— so we can understand how our business is changing as a result.

So what is a millennial? Is there even a definition in a dictionary such as Webster’s? I didn’t actually check with an actual hard copy. That is so baby boomer. Who is Webster? Don’t you mean Wikipedia? I think that’s how a millennial would respond (electronically of course via text, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter).

As listed on the Wikipedia website, otherwise known as the electronic encyclopedia, millennials are considered “the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.” Everything I have seen during the last couple of months tells me the Internet consensus suggests 1980–1995 or so should represent millennials.

To understand this generation, it may be helpful to refresh our social and civic knowledge of the American population demographic by generation:

  • Greatest generation: pre-WWII era, those older than 75 (also called the silent or GI generation).
  • Baby boomers: those born after WWII, now up to 50 years old or so.
  • Generation Xers: born late 1960s through 1980.
  • Millennials (echo boom, Generation Y, or recession generation): born from 1980 through the mid-1990s.
  • New century generation: also called Generation Z, born from 1995 or so to the present.

Millennials’ Importance
Why write an article for The Parking Professional about millennials in the parking industry when a small percentage of the IPI membership (my own estimate) is likely considered part of that generation? (This, by the way, is a huge issue for us as an industry and an organization going forward, and we’ll talk about it in a bit.) Our customers are millennials! And more of them are moving into urban areas, where the majority of our parking facilities are. Our co-workers are millennials, too. If you haven’t noticed, the millennial generation population now outnumbers the baby boomers, with close to 80 million members.

Understanding millennials is important. It’s so important that the Executive Office of the President of the United States Council of Economic Advisers published “15 Economic Facts About Millennials.” Nearly 50 pages long, it provides an excellent summary of millennials in the workplace. A quick summary of these facts, some of which I have rephrased to keep the politics out and some of which are quite obvious to a generation member with more wisdom, follows. One thing I noticed in the report is that the council classifies the youngest population (those born after millennials) as the homeland generation, whereas other media commenters would say Generation Z:

  • Millennials are now the largest and most diverse generation in the U.S.
  • Millennials have been shaped by technology.
  • Millennials value community, family, and creativity in their work.
  • Millennials have invested in human capital more than previous generations.
  • College-going millennials are more likely to study social science and applied fields.
  • More students rely on loans to pay for post-secondary education.
  • Millennials are more likely to focus exclusively on studies instead of combining school and work.
  • Millennials are more likely to have health insurance coverage during their young adult years.
  • Millennials are starting their careers during an historic downturn forecast to last for years to come.
  • Investments in human capital are likely to have a substantial payoff for millennials.
  • Working millennials are staying with their early-career employers longer than previous generations.
  • Millennial women have more labor market equality than those of previous generations.
  • Millennials tend to get married later than previous generations.
  • Millennials are less likely to be homeowners than young adults in previous generations.
  • College-educated millennials have moved into urban areas faster than their less-educated peers.

Many of these points pertain to our industry because of bilateral concerns from the customer standpoint and our co-workers, who aren’t getting married until later and have to pay off higher student loans than prior generations.

Perhaps the most significant fact noted above is the number and diversity of millennials we are now serving and working with in our daily routines. The boomers are retiring, the Gen Xers are moving up, and the millennials are feeding the bottom of the business world as new blood.

Millennials and Parking
I am relatively new to the parking industry with only a decade under my belt; my other expertise is as a transportation engineer. I am involved with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) as well as IPI. As we move toward the goal of combining parking with other forms of transportation, remember that this push is mostly driven by the millennial population. They are nudging both kinds of organizations to think about them and the future of membership. Why? Because recruiting members is a whole different ballgame now than it was back in the day. Millennials get organized at the technological grassroots level and use social media to communicate as naturally as breathing. And communicate they do.

Because millennials have different demands than our more seasoned members, we have to change the way we think. They are used to the instant availability of information and everything being electronic, including communications, even between two people in the same room. Interpersonal skills are much different than what a lot of us are used to.

Like a millennial, I researched this article by searchings the internet using Google. I easily found more than 30 articles, websites, presentations, papers, and other sites about the topic of millennials and working with them. I did some research on my smartphone but mostly used my laptop. By the time you read this article, the iWatch will likely be on several million wrists.

Everyone online seems to have a fact, factoid, survey, report, blog, video, or snippet about millennials. And almost all of these are generated by non-millennials—not surprising.
Statistics say that as compared to older generations, millennials are:

  • Less patriotic.
  • More independent in political affiliations.
  • Less religious.
  • Least trustful of other people.
  • Staying single by a substantial margin.
  • Twice as likely to take selfies.
  • Wary of older generations at work.
  • More in favor of bigger government.
  • More liberal than conservative.

Discussing millennials in the workplace from my Generation X perspective has certainly shown that a better understanding of my younger colleagues and customers is needed. This is especially true in the parking industry, where there aren’t many visible millennials yet.
A few additional points:

  • In the U.S., millennials represent the largest generation ever, with 80 million members.
  • Millennials are tech-savvy and have known nothing else but easy access to the Internet and its free information and knowledge.
  • Millennials, some articles say, spend nearly two hours a day on social media.
    They love social media, and 75 percent of them have a profile there.
  • Millennials don’t watch as much broadcast television but view shows on-demand on handheld devices.

Working Styles
Some findings from recent studies by Pew Research, the 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce, and others indicate just less than 30 percent of millennials are currently in management positions, with two-thirds seeing themselves in management-level positions in two years. Hiring managers report difficulty finding and retaining millennial management-level employees.

Some additional startling results from the surveys indicate that more than 75 percent of millennials are inclined to work for themselves and freelance in the future, taking advantage of technology to do so. I can verify this from an anecdotal standpoint—I am seeing many consultants work from home because they can. This freelancing is on the rise, with companies accepting the supporting roles of consultants to conduct their business without having to hire full-time employees. Surveys are indicating a greater desire by companies to retain these workers to fill necessary roles. The majority of these freelancers are, of course, millennials.

The surveys indicated millennials enjoy freelance work and would do more of it if they could. Part of the reason for this is the millennial generation trait to be more flexible in their work schedules. Instead of committing to an 8-to-5 workday in a set office, they work off-hours all over the place and strongly prefer such flexibility.

While millennials desire this flexibility, there is consensus in many surveys that they also believe they are entitled to things that previous generations would not even consider in their daily routines. These include salaries, benefits, and most of all, position or title and the time it should take to get to that level at work. Is this part of their upbringing, where every player got a trophy at the end of the season?

Effect at Work
As the millennial worker population has almost doubled in 10 years, it is having a profound effect on the workplace. These employees bring skill sets that no other generation before has provided, and they have an immeasurable adeptness for technology that is second nature to them.

It’s interesting to note that millennials also have a more socially conscious attitude in the workplace environment and are more accepting of gender and other differences than previous generations.

Many of the surveys I reviewed indicate that while there is still a higher-than-expected unemployment rate, including those who are permanently out of the labor pool, 20- to 30-year-old millennials with the skills desired by hiring managers are more difficult to recruit and retain than previous generations.

Also of note is this generation’s use of personal smartphones in the office environment, which is pervasive. Leaving the smartphone on with notifications for emails and texts, even on vibrate mode, can interrupt the daily routine. Facebook is the king of disrupting employee productivity. When new posts are made, texts or emails are sent that demand workers stop what they are doing and check it out. The same is true for Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. I am not aware yet of an employer restricting the use of smartphones by employees except for those who are driving or flying. Can you imagine the revolt of millennials and others if they were told by an employer that smartphones were not be allowed to be used at their work stations during the workday?

All that said, some major emerging technologies will have a dramatic effect on our industry thanks to millennial use, including wearable technology and driverless cars. Can you foresee the day when the actual smartphone is embedded in your clothes and/or uniform? When that happens, how can we regulate use in the workplace? Connecting wearable tech with networks and cars will be a very simple step.

Millennials are moving back into cities because they desire to be able to live, work, learn, and play within a much smaller dimension than during past trends of suburban sprawl. The driverless vehicle will facilitate that ability, so they can move to the city and still have access to vehicles that could be idle far outside city limits, where parking is easier to come by and will be much cheaper. The millennial can activate his idled vehicle with wearable technology to come pick him up from his townhouse apartment without taking up a parking space. Remember the Hoff in “Knight Rider”? His Kitt car was essentially a driverless car, albeit a high-performance one.

So what does all this mean? Is this just the usual generational difference gap that every generation loves to complain about? Weren’t the greatest generation members complaining about the baby boomers before the boomers complained about Generation X? Perhaps this is true, but the exponential increase in technology in our everyday work environment has most certainly created some significant differences between our generations, both positive and negative. “Back in the day, walking to school uphill both ways in four feet of snow” clichés just don’t cut it anymore. The Internet has revolutionized the way we do business and the boomers and Generation Xers, including me, followed it as it transformed, and we adapted where we could.

The millennials, however, haven’t adapted. They don’t need to. They thrive on this technology because they grew up with it as part of their daily lives. They cannot understand how the Internet has revolutionized many things—it’s always been this way. They cannot understand work life before pushing the Easy Button. They cannot envision life before the personal computer or the smartphone. Perhaps that is the negative: They don’t understand that what they have has come so far from what it was in terms of the business environment.

They are also connected like no generation before to their outside network. This connectedness provides a confidence in their abilities and allows them to be more open to change. This by itself can present a potential problem when they’re working with an older generation that has “always done it that way.” Conflicts arise.

What’s It All Mean?
Working with millennials and having them in your organization is something you must embrace! We are all professionals, and while they may be a different generation, understanding millennials is crucial to being successful in the business environment.

Understanding can dramatically improve your relations with younger colleagues and allow you to better embrace them in the workplace and when serving them as customers. Engaging them with genuine discussions on their and your needs without a generational gap discussion will show immediate results.

Consider challenging them to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Allow them flexibility in their work environment where you can reasonably do so. Show them that you’re trying to understand their ideas and priorities. It will benefit everyone.

Joe Balskus, PE, PTOE, is principal of CDM Smith. He can be reached at balskusj@cdmsmith.com or 860.808.2299.

TPP-2015-06-Not-So-Mysterious Millenials

Releasing the Parking Brake

TPP-2015-06-Releasing the Parking BrakeBy L. Dennis Burns, CAPP, and Josh Kavanagh, MBA, CAPP

Parking has come a long way as an industry. We were once the back-door experience located at the front door of business. As such, our goal was often little more than to be a non-event, removing the drag on commerce that dealing with the hassles of parking seemed to be by making the parking operation almost invisible. Far from creating competitive advantage for the businesses we supported, our role was to avoid creating competitive disadvantage. That’s hardly the sort of thing that gets a person fired up about going into work in the morning.

Fast-forward a few dozen years and parking emerged as a legitimate profession. We came to understand ourselves as a service industry with our own high standards for operational and service excellence. The parking brake had been released, but it was difficult to argue that parking was adding much forward momentum to the businesses we supported. Aside from the world of valet parking, it was hard to see that parking operations offered much in the way of competitive advantage.

It makes sense that no matter how much we did to improve the parking experience, it didn’t yield much in the way of competitive advantage. After all, parking is always a means to an end. The customer is there for dinner or to shop. As an industry, we have embraced our role as custodian of the “first and last impression” for many years, but those impressions are generally disconnected from the primary motivation of our customers. As such, even good parking experiences are reduced to commodities that do little to build brand loyalty or contribute little to the overall experience.

The Pre-Show Belongs to Parking
How then do we take the next step, engaging the customer and providing forward momentum for the businesses we support? You’ll find the answer in Las Vegas this month, not just on the IPI Expo floor or in the breakout sessions but up the road at Treasure Island, where you can catch Cirque du Soliel’s “Mystère.”

As the audience filters in and goes about finding their seats (a parking experience of a different kind), the preshow begins with master clown Brian Dewhurst. His character, Brian le Petit, described as a bit of a bad uncle, serves as a foil for the house staff and generally runs amok in ways that description cannot do justice. The end result is that before the house lights are out and the show begins, the audience has been fully engaged and is ready for the experience to come.

Just as the seating of an audience can become the preshow, so can the parking experience. We don’t just own the first and last impression; we own the first and last encounter. We own the preshow and the encore.

Context Is King

I’m not a clown, you say? That’s OK—not every show is Cirque du Soliel. The antics of Brian le Petit would hardly be an appropriate preshow for a tragic opera or a heady dramatic play. His preshow is tailored for an evening of cirque, of fantasy and whimsy, and it fits perfectly. In crafting your preshow, it is essential to uncover what experience the preshow of your parking operation is seating the audience for.

Those of us who oversee parking operations that serve a single entity, such as a hospital, a performance venue, or an airport, have it easy. The context in which we will stage our preshow is clear. Parking professionals who serve business districts have a slightly more difficult task. With downtowns and other business districts actively working to build coherent identities for themselves, however, aligning the preshow to the context of the main event is becoming increasingly easy.

Know Your Audience
Understanding one’s audience is absolutely fundamental to staging a successful preshow. Context joins culture and demographic factors to shape and understand their needs. The needs of families with young children are different than those of a couple on date night, just as the needs of a patient arriving at the hospital are different than a business traveler arriving at the airport. The needs of one’s audience determine the plot for our show and how we will engage the audience by meeting them where they are.

Script the Show
Dewhurst’s performance as Brian le Petit is highly improvisational. With more than 15 years of performing the character under his belt and nearly 70 years of professional circus experience (yes, Dewhurst is still going strong at the age of 82), he can easily adapt his role without breaking character or disrupting the performance.

For the rest of us, great performances don’t just happen. Few of us have Dewhurst’s longevity playing Brian le Petit—in fact, many of the players our audience will interact most closely with will have just months or perhaps a few years of experience. For us, service scripts provide a basic outline for our performance, moving the show forward without constraining the performer who is prepared to make the role his own.

Set the Stage
In The Experience Economy, authors B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore argue that the staging of an experience requires that plain space becomes a distinct place. Similarly with our parking facilities—the stage for our preshow—we have an opportunity to create distinct spaces consistent with the context of the main event. This is an area where our industry has excelled during the last decade, yet the strategies for placemaking within parking facilities have yet to be universally adopted. In seeking inspiration for how to set the stage for our preshow, we need look no further than the street outside our garage.

The notion of creating competitive advantage can be wide-ranging and multi-dimensional. Beyond the operational and customer service elements, we as an industry have made great strides in better integrating parking and mobility management into the urban form through enhanced facility architecture and design, enhanced walkability and pedestrian environments, and embracing creative placemaking and place management practices. We have expanded our stage to go beyond simply parking to include an array of multi-modal experiences designed to improve community access, including enhanced facility architecture and the provision of public art.

In Making Business Districts Work, David Feehan and a host of contributing authors lay out the essential building blocks of how to transform our town centers into unique, vibrant, and beautiful places that are truly exciting and energizing. As parking professionals, we cannot only turn to the same toolkit in setting the stage for our preshow but look to how it has been applied for the businesses we support. By creating consistency with the main stage, our preshow can become even more a part of a single seamless experience.

Don’t Forget the Encore
While the preshow offers the chance to shape the arrival experience and engage the customer in preparation for the main event, we have one more chance to create competitive advantage—the departure experience or encore.

You might be wondering, “How can my organization perform the encore? We weren’t the main event!” What is an encore, though, but a chance to extend the experience, sending the audience out on a high and feeling like they got just a little something extra? Extending the experience is somewhat more complex than staging a separate preshow that engages the customer but needn’t be fully integrated with the main event. If nothing else, we have a chance to, as Pine and Gilmore describe, “eliminate negative cues” or the things that distract from or contradict the experience. Ideally, we can also include positive cues that serve to extend or reinforce the experience.

Not a One-Person-Show
Unlike Dewhurst’s performance before “Mystère,” the effectiveness of your preshow and encore needn’t ride on your shoulders alone. You’ll have the players from the main event cheering you on from behind the curtain as you warm up their audience. Just as importantly, you’ll be performing along with your colleagues and helping each other find new ways to bring just a little more theater into your operation as you stage increasingly vibrant arrival and departure experiences.

Speaking of Encores…
Intrigued by this concept? Would you like to see a wide range of examples highlighting parking and transportation-specific customer engagement strategies that help create competitive advantage for the communities we serve? If so, we hope you will consider attending our presentation on this topic at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

L. Dennis Burns, CAPP, is a regional vice president and senior practice builder with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. He can be reached at dennis.burns@kimley-horn.com.

Josh Kavanagh, MBA, CAPP, is the director of transportation services for the University of Washington. He can be reached at joshkav@uw.edu.

TPP-2015-06-Releasing the Parking Brake

Big Analytics & Business Strategy

TPP-2015-06-Big Analytics & Business StrategyBy Soumya S. Dey, P.E., PMP; Benito O. Pérez, AICP; and Cliff Wickstrum

Big data is an evolving term that describes any voluminous amount of structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data that has the potential to be mined for valuable information. Although big data does not refer to any specific quantity, the term is often used when speaking about data sets so large or complex that they exceed the capacity “V”s: the extreme volume of data, the wide variety of types of data, the velocity at which the data must be processed, and the veracity of data.

However, data by itself is of limited value. The ultimate value of data is really based on the insights we draw that help us make smarter tactical and strategic business decisions. The data value chain is a way of defining the process of moving from data to insights via storage and analysis (shown in Exhibit 1).

Big Data in Parking
An emerging trend in the parking industry is a shift toward networked assets for payments and real-time occupancy sensing. These assets generate significant amounts of data on a real-time basis. Consequently, big data has implications for the parking industry.

The International Parking Institute (IPI) has identified this opportunity and wants to ensure its membership is engaged and ready. In February 2015, IPI hosted a think tank to discuss how big data is being collected, how others are using this information, and where agencies can collectively improve operational efficiency, decision-making, and customer service while maximizing revenue. Big data will be one of the topics of interest at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas later this month, where IPI’s Technology Committee’s research will be presented.

Here, we analyze transaction data from Washington, D.C.’s successful pay-by-cell (PBC) program to formulate strategies for the future. It provides unique insights into the program, its customers, their usage patterns, etc. The analytics framework and approach will help other jurisdictions think about how they can look at their own parking data to gain deeper understanding of their systems.

Pay-by-Cell in D.C.

PBC was launched citywide in July 2011 to provide customers with an additional payment option at all 18,000 on-street metered curbside spaces. The program has reduced customer frustration associated with issues such as broken meters, having to carry change, and needing to return to the meter to extend a session. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) selected Parkmobile as its PBC vendor after a competitive procurement process. The PBC program in the District has been very successful. Since its launch, PBC has accounted for more than 20 million transactions, has 900,000 customers, and accounts for approximately 55 percent of D.C.’s parking revenues.

PBC has a high level of customer satisfaction. Exhibit 2 shows that 95 percent of respondents in a customer service survey would use the system again and 86 percent would recommend PBC to someone else. Based on the question asked, 78 to 90 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the program. Anecdotal evidence, such as press articles, social media blogs, and Twitter also suggest a high favorability rating for PBC in the city.

D.C. is now seeing just more than 600,000 PBC transactions per month. The system-wide user and usage statistics have been documented.
A deep dive into the data revealed several interesting facts about PBC use in the District:

PBC user profiles are similar to traffic profiles in D.C. Thirty-one percent of PBC transactions are by vehicles registered in D.C. Vehicles registered in Virginia and Maryland each account for 28 percent of PBC transactions. The remaining 13 percent are by vehicles from the other 48 states. However, D.C. accounts for only 13 percent of the customer base, while Maryland and Virginia each account for 30 percent. This implies that on an average, D.C. vehicles use the system almost 2.5 times as much as Maryland and Virginia drivers. However, the average parking duration for D.C. drivers is lower: 55 percent of D.C. vehicles park for less than one hour, compared to 40 percent for Maryland and Virginia vehicles (shown in Exhibit 3).

There are three ways to initiate a parking transaction using the PBC program: via smartphone application, phone call, or online. Since the launch of the program, the percentage of parking transactions that are initiated through the smartphone app has increased steadily from 40 percent in 2011 to 90 percent now (shown in Exhibit 4). Phone calls using interactive voice recognition account for 8 percent of transactions while the remaining 2 percent are initiated using the web. This insight on user preference has implications on how parking and transportation services should be provided in the District.

There are three primary ways of scheduling payments using the program: credit/debit card, virtual wallet with pre-loaded value, and PayPal. Currently, 83 percent of transactions are made by credit card, 7 percent with wallet, and 10 percent via PayPal. Visitors and infrequent users have a higher usage rate for PayPal (12 percent), most likely because of the tool’s brand recognition and sense of security, while D.C. residents have a higher usage rate for wallet (10 percent), most likely because they initiate more transactions and can take advantage of the lower transaction fee.

Monday is the lowest activity day (60,000 transactions on average) followed by Saturday (66,000). Friday has the highest (80,000) average number of parking transactions. There is no significant difference in duration of parking (approximately 90 minutes) between different days of the week.

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, DDOT initiated a commercial loading zone program that required commercial vehicles in loading zones to either display an annual ($323 per year) or daily permit ($10 per day) or use PBC ($2 per hour). Since its inception, 67 companies and 588 vehicles have purchased the annual pass, and 10 vehicles have purchased the daily pass. On the PBC side, 9,523 distinct vehicles have used the system for 22,056 transactions. The top 4 percent of users account for 36 percent of transactions. The next 14 percent of users account for 56 percent, while the remaining 82 percent of commercial vehicles account for 8 percent. This is similar to trends observed with personal vehicles, where 20 percent of the users account for 60 percent of the transactions. The average loading duration is approximately one hour. As shown in Exhibit 5, approximately one-third of loading operations occur during the a.m. and p.m. peak hours. Exhibit 6 shows the distribution of commercial zone usage.

Business Strategies
From DDOT’s perspective, the cost structure of PBC is significantly less expensive than the other two revenue streams for parking (coin and credit cards, shown in Exhibit 7). Given D.C.’s price points and cost allocation process, the capital and operating cost of PBC is approximately 65 percent less than coin and 30 percent less than credit card. So there is a cost benefit to pushing customers from coin and credit payment to PBC payments.

Given this, it makes sense to analyze the data from the program and look for opportunities to further increase PBC penetration rates. Some of the strategies can encourage natural shifts; for others, DDOT can create an environment that encourages a specific kind of behavior:

Phased Removal of Meters. By locating areas that have a high PBC penetration, DDOT could look into removing meters from one side of the street. Exhibit 8 shows a heat map of high PBC penetration areas. Within these areas, specific block faces with high PBC usage were identified. Removing meters would reduce parking operations costs and incentivize further PBC adoption.

Transaction Fees. D.C.’s business model for PBC is to pass the entire cost of the program to customers. One strategy to increase penetration would be to change that cost-sharing option by absorbing some costs (such as credit card processing) or the entire cost of the program. Looking at the data on past behavior, it is clear that current PBC users are largely insensitive to this fee. In response to rising credit card processing costs, D.C. increased PBC transaction fees from $0.32 to $0.45 in October 2012. At that time, D.C. also began offering a virtual wallet option for customers—customers could load $20 on their accounts with a credit/debit card, and parking transactions would draw down from those accounts. Customers choosing the virtual wallet option have their transaction fee reduced to $0.30. As shown in Exhibit 9, the changes in transaction fees did not have an effect on transaction volumes. They also did not result in an overwhelming adoption of the virtual wallet option (currently at 7 percent of all transactions). This implies that the transaction fees, for the most part, are in the price inelastic zone and/or customers see value in the program to pay the additional fee.

Further Expand the Program. The District’s PBC program has matured and enjoys the highest adoption rate in the country. The program has been tweaked incrementally to respond to customer demands and external trends. To further expand coverage, DDOT will need to adapt the program to make it attractive to non-users as well. Big data analytics can help in this regard. DDOT has started the process of mapping the origins of PBC users based on vehicle registration data. A heat map can be developed to identify areas of the city where PBC users live. The balance will be areas that are not using the system. Data from various sources (such as census, vehicle usage, cell phone usage, economic activity, etc.) will be used to identify characteristics of non-users. Based on traits that emerge, a marketing strategy will be developed to make them aware of the program and to make the program fit their needs (to the extent possible). For example, the transaction fees that the current user base does not seem to mind may be more of an issue for the current non-user population. The program might need to be modified to be more inclusive of unbanked customers if that trait is identified as a barrier to adoption.

Allow Overstays. The PBC program currently allows a customer to start another parking session after the initial parking session has reached maximum parking duration in the zone. The system essentially mirrors the functionality of the meters on this issue. Customers choosing to start another session can still be ticketed for over-staying. Approximately 10 percent of PBC transactions involve users starting another transaction beyond the stated parking time restrictions. Sixty-seven percent of overstays were for vehicles registered in Maryland and Virginia; this behavior was more predominant during weekdays. There is a policy question on whether PBC should allow overstays or not allow patrons to start another parking session after the maximum allowable parking duration has been reached.

Cell Phone Applications. The fact that almost 90 percent of PBC transactions are being initiated through the smartphone application has implications on how DDOT as an agency provides services and interacts with its customers across other program areas. To respond to the popularity of smartphone apps, D.C. has developed an application called RideDC that provides transportation options in real time (bus, train, bikeshare, shared vehicle) and offers SeeClickFix to request city services, gradeDC to rate city agencies, and TOPS to request public space permits. In the parking arena, DDOT will provide real-time parking availability information to its customers as part of a performance parking pilot in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter area.

Summary and Conclusions
This article provides a high-level overview of how big data analytics can help formulate business and policy decisions. The analysis presented is primarily based on data from the parking ecosystem—more specifically, the PBC program. To further enhance the data value proposition, the analytics needs to draw data from other parts of the parking ecosystem (meters, enforcement, occupancy, etc.) and combine it with data from other systems, such as special events, weather, traffic, demographic, socioeconomic, sales, and land use, to get an even better understanding of the various cause-and- effect relationships.

As parking systems get more sophisticated, the opportunities of utilizing big data to make smart tactical, business, and policy decisions will increase. The process can be overwhelming, but one of the guiding principles behind data management and analytics should be whether the information helps improve operations by reducing cost, increasing uptime, or increasing customer satisfaction. Metrics that help make smart business and tactical decisions are metrics that are worth tracking. Big data analytics will enable DDOT to position its parking program as an innovative, forward leaning, data-driven program. Lessons learned will help DDOT continuously enhance its parking program in particular and the transportation system in general, and better align both with customer needs, technologies, and the agency’s priorities.

Authors’ note: The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of DDOT student interns Amy Liang, Ohene Ofosu, and Negin Askarzadeh for their help in data analytics. Acknowledgements are also due to DDOT staff Stephanie Dock for her peer review of this article, and Laura Richards for her analysis on commercial loading zones.

Soumya S. Dey, PE, PMP, is director of research and technology transfer with the District Department of Transportation. He can be reached at soumya.dey@dc.gov.

Benito O. Pérez, AICP, is curbside management and operations planner with the District Department of Transportation. He can be reached at benito.perez@dc.gov.

Cliff Wickstrum is vice president, sales solutions, with Parkmobile, LLC. He can be reached at cliff.wickstrum@parkmobileglobal.com.

TPP-2015-06-Big Analytics & Business Strategy

Parking Management for Smart Growth

TPP-2015-06-Parking Management for Smart Growth

Rick Willson’s new book, Parking Management for Smart Growth, is a how-to guide on strategic management of parking to let communities better use existing resources and avoid overbuilding. It covers strategies from shared parking arrangements and digital tools that make the most of every space and includes case studies of successful parking strategies that have made a positive difference in communities around the world.

The book, says Willson, was a natural outgrowth of his first, Parking Reform Made Easy, which met great reviews when it was published in 2013. It introduces readers to the reasons behind smart parking, explains the purpose of parking requirements, explores land management reform, and explains parking theory and purpose to planners, many of whom have little education in the industry.

Willson is a professor in and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He’s conducted extensive research in transportation planning, parking policy, the implications of communicative action theory in transportation planning, and transportation demand management, among other areas. His research is frequently published in scholarly journals, and he consults with agencies that include the Bay Area Rapid Transit District. He holds a PhD in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. He recently talked with The Parking Professional about parking planning, the future of the industry, and his new book.

The Parking Professional: This book feels like a how-to on parking planning for communities that have never done it. What was your motivation for writing it?

Rick Willson: Todd Litman wrote his Parking Management Best Practices, but no one had written a book on parking requirements and reform. This book has a lot mixed into it. I’ve been doing parking studies for decades as a consultant and I really wanted this book to be helpful to people—here’s how you do it. When a city hires a consultant to do a parking management study, they can use the book as a guide to what’s coming and what ideally could be done.

My first book, Parking Reform Made Easy, was targeted to local planners who write zoning code. This one has a broader audience. It includes planners, obviously, but as we all know, parking management is sort of strewn across departments in a lot of cases. Many departments have a hand in it, so they’re an audience, but it’s also for business improvement districts, community groups that have parking issues, and anybody who’s facing a challenge or is dissatisfied with their parking situation.

My main motivation for writing it was that in my opinion, we have too many parking spaces for every car. There’s an opportunity to use parking more effectively so scarce land in our cities can be used for other purposes. Looking to the future, we see trends in technology that will help, and we see social preferences that suggest vehicle ownership per household will decline. We’re entering this new era where what’s important is being able to access services rather than owning a car, not necessarily in the suburbs, but in cities and urban places. I think there’s going to be a reduction in the number of cars per person or per household.

We have an opportunity to repurpose parking for other things, but we need a process to manage that. Cities are able to reduce their parking on paper, but they have to have parking management to make sure the parking works so that customers are satisfied, shared parking is working well, and there are information services so people feel like it’s just as convenient to park, even though the total number of spaces has decreased.

TPP: The book talks a lot about shared parking, where, say, a bank’s lot is used for restaurant parking at night. How do we convince parking owners that this can work?

RW: The problem I find is that in lots of these locations, the on-street parking is often underpriced. The bank people say to themselves, “I have no reason to share my parking. I can’t charge enough for it to make up for the inconvenience of opening it up to others at night.” So it starts with the city charging appropriately for its parking, which creates an economic incentive for the bank. It, then, can charge some money to open the lot at night.

Another approach is more direct. In the City of San Clemente, Calif., the city approached private property owners and asked to enter into a short-term lease with them to share their parking at night. The city promised to take care of enforcement and they found property owners who were very willing to do that. It gave the property owners some revenue and costs much less than building a new structure in the downtown.

Creating economic incentive is part of it, but there’s also a people part of it. In most areas, there’s no one charged with negotiating shared parking agreements. Individual parking owners can do it if they’re inclined, but there’s no one whose job it is to go out and broker such agreements. The business improvement district can do it, but there’s a lot of talking it through and explaining how to minimize the risks. It takes people for this to work well, and if there’s no one who has that responsibility as part of their job, it doesn’t happen.

When I do a parking study in a community that says they don’t have enough parking, we often find their actual parking use is somewhere around 60 percent. There really is enough parking. It’s just not well-used.

TPP: What’s the biggest challenge in convincing municipalities to rethink?

RW: It’s a continuum between small-town America parking and parking in the big city. In a small town, people expect to park right in front, and they expect it to be free. What’s happening that makes people uncomfortable is that those communities are evolving a couple of baby steps more toward the big-city situation, where you’re not parking in front, you’re paying to park, and you’re making choices between how far to walk and how much to spend. The old-timers want to stay in the small-town situation, and the new businesses and new residents are prepared to park and walk a few blocks. It’s a tug-of-war.

TPP: The book talks a lot about a push away from parking as a destination and toward parking as a means to multi-modal transportation. Why is that important for the parking industry?

RW: It’s a good thing. The walk-bike-shuttle-transit way of thinking can reduce total parking demand and parking can help change people’s mode choice. A lot of proponents of multi-modal transportation sometimes oversell how much it will reduce parking demand. It depends completely on the context. What I’m seeing is that first, it’s reducing trips before it reduces vehicle ownership. If you do a good job of it, you’ll have people walking for shopping and social recreation and trips. The question is when are they going to give up a car out of their household? That requires a high level of transit that links to other destinations.

Multi-modal needs good planning that serves people who don’t have cars, and it encourages people who drive to park once and leave their car. Another level we have to get to is in residential parking, and that’s important in lowering vehicle ownership-per-household. That’s the ultimate place we want to reach.

People who live in downtown San Francisco and downtown Los Angeles are walking to destinations and using transportation often. So they might want to own a car, but it doesn’t have to be in their building and they don’t have to get to it every day—it can be three blocks away. Remote parking that’s cheaper or a way to store a car somewhere else is one way of satisfying people’s ideal of owning a car but not using it every day.

TPP: Sounds like that could mean big things for car-sharing companies and providers.

RW: That’s more forward into the future. Those services really are going to transform vehicle ownership in urban areas. It’s further off, but if we do have autonomous vehicles and if they’re electric, it really starts to raise the question of why anyone would want to own a vehicle. Wouldn’t you just want to call up a mobility service on your phone? Not everywhere, but in urban areas, the reasons to own a car are being dominated by technology, and these services that use cars more efficiently mean we don’t need as much parking per person.

TPP: The book addresses using graduated rates instead of time limits, where you’d pay more for the second two hours than for the first, for example. Why do you think that’s a better system in cities?

RW: Some places are trying it. At UCLA, I think the prices are graduated by time stay. Another university tried it, but their equipment had trouble with it. It’s relatively new and not widespread, but the great advantage is that continually in business improvement districts, people complain about the time limits. One hour isn’t enough, two hours aren’t enough. If you can get away from that, you’re offering consumers more convenience.
Across the country, there is pushback about high parking enforcement fines. In Los Angeles, people complain that the parking signs are too large. People complain that cities look at tickets as revenue sources and not a way to get parking compliance. Moving away from time limits gets away from situations in which a well-meaning person stays too long and gets a ticket. Customer service comes into the district, and we want people to have a good experience. The challenge is that the equipment has to be able to do it.

TPP: You mentioned pushback—it seems people push back against any parking change, and that’s a pretty big one.

They do freak out and they do try to shoot it down. A couple of things I’ve learned: If you just say, “we’re changing parking rules,” and leave it out there like that, you make people’s ability to say, “I want to keep it the way it is” stronger. When communities adopt a new plan for their downtown and a new economic strategy and they link parking reform to it—“This is our vision, and to get that, we have to manage parking better”—it’s a little bit of an easier sell. I did a study recently, and a council member told me five years ago he would have said no to it, but that now, it fits in well with a broader vision for the downtown and he was willing to move in that direction.

People who are against this kind of change tend to be longer-term merchants who are very involved in their local chamber and have a standing in the community. People who support it are new business owners, restaurants, bars, and so on. Broadening who’s at the planning table is important. If it’s just the old guard, they offer the most resistance. There’s a lot of talk required—you have to talk through the logic of these changes. Remember that to these people, free parking and minimal parking rules are normal. It’s a conceptual thing: The most successful places are charging for parking and managing it, and the ones that are lagging are the ones that still have free parking. My response is that people are not coming to your business for the free parking. That’s the truth.

TPP: The book includes a section about mission and vision and why parking departments need to have both. Could you please explain that?

RW: At the same time I was writing that chapter, I was doing a project for a small community in Sacramento that didn’t want a vision process. They just wanted a quickie parking study. I made a comment that the comprehensive way is best and that there is merit to experimenting and making changes.

The benefit of having a comprehensive vision is that it helps us say, “We want the right parkers in the right spots.” It puts customer service first, not revenue generation, and it offers a vision of how to allocate different user groups to different parking resources.

Given that parking resources are often spread across different departments, this often means organizing a set of statements different sectors can align with. When someone says they don’t like increased parking spaces, the mission and vision statement say we’re altering rates to achieve target occupancy levels. It helps keep everyone on track.

This goes back to comprehensive management. You’ve got to have some political leadership or business community leadership to convene your stakeholders and say, “Let’s change what we’re doing.” Use best practices from other organizations, and offer up what’s been done and what the benefits were over time. I do think it takes leadership—it’s hard for staff to do this on their own. This can mean educating elected officials about the opportunity costs of status quo. A picture tells a thousand stories, so show them pictures of the under-use of parking in the community. Often, the waste isn’t visible. So show them spaces behind the building, underground, on the top of a structure. Convince them there’s a problem and then find leaders or champions to carry the charge.

TPP: What’s the biggest challenge you see in parking right now?

RW: The biggest mistake is what I call the set-it-and-forget-it idea, from the old infomercial with the guy and his rotisserie chicken machine. We’ve got time limits of two hours, so we’re not going to think about parking. My argument is that it must be actively managed. It requires attention, data collection, monitoring. The biggest mistake in parking is setting and forgetting it.

This is part of a change in the ideas of planning and city management. You used to make a blueprint that was fixed and from that you could predict the future and know where you were headed for 20 years. We need a more actively managed system that uses outcomes, pricing, and policy to reach goals. It’s a broader way of thinking of city planning, from using it as a blueprint to thinking of it as a system you’re managing for resilience. You don’t know the future exactly, but you know the steps you’ll take as conditions unfold. It’s a different idea of what planning is.

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Video Surveillance: The Rise of the Machine

TPP-2015-06-Video Surveillance The Rise of the MachineBy Leonard T. Bier, JD, CAPP

What is the connection between video surveillance, police brutality, and the parking industry? To begin with, many off-street parking facilities use closed-circuit television (CCTV) to monitor vehicle entry and exit lanes, capture license plate information, and record video of persons entering and leaving. This video is routinely reviewed in cases of assault, vandalism, or property damage.

While at a government conference event, an attendee was assaulted by an intoxicated hotel guest who was not participating in or invited to the event. The assailant fled the scene before hotel security or the police arrived. I was tasked to interact with hotel security and local police. The assailant was found, identified, and arrested within six hours thanks to CCTV cameras that tracked him back to his room in the hotel. The assailant was prosecuted. Is this incident indicative of an Orwellian police state or the responsible use of surveillance technology?

Although parking enforcement officers (PEOs) do not carry guns and rarely cause grievous bodily harm in the performance of their duties, some jurisdictions permit them to carry Mace for self-defense, along with handcuffs if they are authorized to take persons into custody. Anyone on the municipal side of the parking industry is acutely aware of the potential for a PEO to be assaulted or harassed in the performance of his duties. You only need to watch the reality television show “Parking Wars” to see the parking public in action.

In 36 years representing parking authorities, I have, on multiple occasions, appeared in municipal court to prosecute a defendant for an assault on a PEO or to defend a PEO from charges of an assault by a member of the public. PEOs have been struck with fists, spit on, and hit with automobiles. However, when trying cases in the municipal court without an independent witness, it often becomes a he-says-and-she-says situation that, absent some other form of evidence, results in the dismissal of charges by the trial judge.

The national call to have vehicle-mounted cameras for traffic stops and body cameras for officers who interact with and confront citizens in situations that may lead to arrest is appropriate to protect the police from accusations of brutality or excessive force and the public from the use of excessive force, false arrest, and trumped-up resistance charges. The question is should municipalities and parking authorities also issue body cameras to PEOs?
One of my parking authority clients in the early days of body cameras had lapel radio microphones with embedded video cameras. Cameras were triggered by a switch on the lapel microphone and used to record any and all confrontations and document unusual vehicle parking circumstances, such as a car parked in the wrong direction of travel or on the sidewalk, for later use as documentary evidence in court. The cameras’ video cards could only be accessed, viewed, and erased by supervisory personnel. The cameras were very effective but were discontinued by the authority because they drained mobile radio batteries.

Both public and private parking industry operators maintain customer service centers to issue parking permits and access cards as well as collect fees, fines, and other charges. Often, the public is separated from service center personnel by a glass partition. Although the barrier may prevent a physical assault, it does not prevent the staff or public from being verbally abusive. CCTV cameras that record audio and video on both sides of the partition can assist management in assessing public complaints alleging inappropriate staff behavior and determining the true responsible party in a confrontation.

The public already uses cell phones to record and document perceived and real social injustice, as well as every aspect of their lives, which they post on social media. Video and audio surveillance recording in standalone and mixed-use parking facilities, as well as in the field utilizing vehicle-mounted and body cameras to document incidents, protect the public, and substantiate appropriate or inappropriate staff/public behavior, is the new normal.

Leonard T. Bier, JD, CAPP, is the principal of Bier Associates. He can be reached at lenbier@optonline.net or 732.828.8864.

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Placemaking and Parking

TPP-2015-06-Placemaking and ParkingBy Isaiah Mouw, CAPP and Brent Matthews, CAPP

In the 1950s and ’60s the City of Chattanooga, Tenn., was one of the leading manufacturing cities in the U.S. With that success came the typical unintended consequences for a manufacturing city: pollution, smog, and ugly industrial plants. In 1969, network news anchor Walter Cronkite announced to a national television audience that Chattanooga was the dirtiest city in America.

The unfortunate accolade was something of a wake-up call for the citizens of Chattanooga. They responded in 1985, when a group of citizens formed the Chattanooga Venture Committee and hosted public forums that focused on places, work, play, and government. Open to everyone, these forums established a blueprint for city improvements and revitalization that has yet to cease. Fast forward to present day: Chattanooga boasts one of the most beautiful downtowns in America and is considered something of an outdoor mecca. In 2011, it was named the best town ever by Outdoor magazine and in 2012, was named “Best Outdoor City” by Blue Ridge Outdoors.

Rock climbing is one of the fastest growing sports in America. And with Chattanooga being one of the finest outdoor cities in the nation, it was only a matter of time before a premier rock climbing facility would be built. But where would it go? That’s where parking comes into play.

Climbing a Garage
Shuttle Park North Garage was built in 1992 by the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) to serve as a shuttle hub and parking garage for the Tennessee Aquarium and other riverfront area downtown attractions. When the garage was originally built, the ground-floor retail area included a 12-screen movie theater. As Downtown Chattanooga continued to grow, a new theater was built, leaving the garage retail space open until CARTA signed a lease with developers River City Company. In January 2013, High Point Climbing and Fitness broke ground; today, it is a state-of-the-art, 23,000-square-foot climbing and bouldering gym. The best part of it is the 11,000-square-foot public art piece that has 5,000 square feet of functional climbing anchored to the façade of the garage. Climbers can literally climb the façade of the garage!

This is what urbanists and community leaders are now referring to as placemaking. Placemaking is a movement that inspires people to reimagine public spaces as the heart of the community. It is a process that pays close attention to the social, cultural, and physical identities of the area when designing public spaces. The High Point Climbing Gym is a wonderful example of parking and placemaking.

Parking garages should serve as community gateways, not only providing parking spaces but a hub for information and connectivity with the community. And what better way to do that than by installing a rock climbing wall on the outside of a downtown garage in the city known for its outdoors?

Parking professionals, planners, engineers, and architects should do everything they can to match the character of the community and add vitality to street life when designing parking garages. As Fred Kent, founder of the Project for Public Spaces, often states, “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.”

Motorists are more likely to become both occasional and regular cyclists and pedestrians when these sorts of considerations are taken for streets, parking, and transportation. Every parking organization has the ability to make a signification impact in this area. What can you do with your garages to add to your city’s vitality?

Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, is vice president of Republic Parking Systems and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. He can be reached at imouw@republicparking.com.

Brent Matthews, CAPP, is director of director with the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority. He can be reached at matthews_brent@gocarta.org or 423.424.1316.

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Mentoring the Next Generation of Parking Professionals

TPP-2015-06-Mentoring the Next Generation of Parking ProfessionalsBy Deara M. Person, CAPP

It only takes a moment to look back at the history of the parking industry to see numerous reasons why it is important to keep reaching, teaching, and developing young adults to take over the business of parking. John Crosby wrote, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

I remember listening to IPI co-founder James Hunnicutt, CAPP, telling a room full of conference attendees how he began his career in the parking industry. He said he knew most of us did not plan on becoming parking professionals when we grew up. In that moment I thought about my early days in the parking industry.

Numerous researchers have found that by the year 2020 the workforce will shift and a vast number of baby boomers will retire. How can the parking industry capture the knowledge and expertise of boomers and create a sustainable future for the parking industry?

Mentoring is one way to open the door to young parking professionals with innovative ideas. Solid evidence proves that mentoring programs work. Mentoring is beneficial to both the organization and staff. Organizations can use mentoring as a recruitment tool to help them develop potential employees. Some organizations hire high school and college students to replenish their talent pools more rapidly.

Many mentors have turned individuals into high-­profile­ successful people who are working in a number of industries. For example, Hillary Clinton credits her former spiritual advisor as the person who placed her on the path to success.

What is a mentor? Some people define professional mentors as individuals who bring a variety of skills to the table that will enable them to enhance the careers of their mentees. Mentors use a number of techniques to assist their mentees, including modeling the way, encouraging, nurturing, teaching, listening, providing opportunities, and helping younger professionals build relationships that will open doors for years to come. Effective mentors provide their mentees with professional guidance to enable them to navigate their field of interest—in this case, all things parking. To make the most of this partnership, both parties must agree to meet regularly and each person must be respectful of the other person’s time.

Setting Expectations
At the first meeting, mentors and mentees should ask questions, establish goals, and set expectations for completing the various tasks. A written contract is a good way to ensure everyone is on the same page and provide clarity during the mentoring process. Mutual respect, shared values, and reciprocity are other essential keys to a successful mentoring relationship. In other words, the mentee must be willing to share information with the mentor and not seek to be on the receiving end of the relationship all the time.

Mentors and mentees should look to uncover any likes or dislikes they may have in common, as this will help bind them closer together. Building a sustainable mentoring relationship is important for both parties. Mentorship can be a mutually rewarding experience that both parties can enjoy.

For anyone seeking to enter the 21st century business environment, mentoring is one way to go that will enable more organizations to be sustainable and long-lasting. Baby boomers have the knowledge and expertise to help prepare the way for those who will follow in their footsteps. Mentoring, internships, or sponsoring young professionals can bring a breath of fresh air to the parking industry.

Deara M. Person, CAPP, has more than 20 years’ experience in the parking industry and is a member of IPI’s Consultants Committee. She can be reached at dearap@aol.com.

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