Tag Archives: TPP-2015-11

Going Gateless

TPP-2015-11-Going GatelessBy Chris Chettle

Parking access revenue control systems (PARCS) remain the most popular solution deployed to manage access and payment in garage facilities. These systems provide a range of valuable solutions to deal with complex user requirements for permit and transient parkers while supporting gated access to maximize compliance and manage limited enforcement resources. However, as garage projects are introduced, parking managers are taking the opportunity to examine new technology with a fresh perspective.

The Traditional Approach
PARCS solutions that use gates, pay-in-lane, and pay-on-foot equipment, along with attendants, effectively drive compliance, accuracy, and audit trail. The gate serves the enforcement function effectively. It also enables lane ticket and radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers to identify different user credentials and pay-on-exit solutions to charge the parker for the exact amount of time used, driving customer satisfaction.

Parking validation also works well in gated facilities because customers can pay on exit and use a validation coupon to defray some cost of parking.

Can You Go Gateless?
PARCS solutions provide a level of accuracy and compliance no other solution can offer. However, if any of the following scenarios describe your operation, a gateless solution that uses multi-space pay stations may be worth considering:

Available enforcement resources and concentrated management. Enforcement personnel and management are required to support a gateless facility. It’s also ideal if the facilities being managed are in a concentrated area that can reasonably be serviced by enforcement personnel.

Large number of spaces. To get the value of having enforcement personnel visit a facility, the number of spaces needs to be large enough to drive parking and citation revenues that justify the additional staffing. A benchmark minimum of 500 spaces is a reasonable starting point unless enforcement personnel are deployed through multiple facilities in close proximity.

High throughput. A gateless solution can allow cars to get into and out of a facility faster than a PARCS solution. If bottlenecking is a significant problem, gateless may help.

Mixed-use garage with available occupancy. Gateless works best if there are always some available spaces in the garage; it reduces the risk that parkers will take up reserved spaces when they can’t find anything else.
Low validation need. A gateless solution can include pay stations with features such as coupons for validation, but they need to be provided in advance of the parking session. Therefore, it’s ideal if the facility has a low need for validations.

The Emergence of APIs, PBL, and LPR
During the past five to 10 years, three technologies have come together to deliver a new solution for garages:
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Technology providers are increasingly offering open API platforms with software tools and standards that allow different technologies to talk to each other, exchange data, and provide new value-added services. Some vendors are reluctant to get on the API bandwagon as there is concern that providing third-party access to their solutions will lower their competitive advantage. Customers are quickly shifting this view by demanding vendors work together as the parking industry seeks to drive new revenues and reduce costs while facing ongoing pressure to introduce new services.

Pay-by-License Plate (PBL). The license plate has been around since the car was first invented—often used by the parking industry as a common identifier for permits and reserved parking and more recently, pay-by-cell deployments. However, it has only been in the last decade that the license plate has been considered for pay station and transient parking transactions. The Calgary Parking Authority was the first to use the license plate for its proprietary on-street system in 2007, and in 2012, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority became the first U.S. city to deploy PBL on-street. PBL offers many advantages over traditional pay-and-display (PND) and pay-by-space (PBS) deployments. In many ways, it offers the best of both worlds by providing benefits to the parking operator, parking employees, and consumers. For example, a parker no longer has to go back to his/her car after making a transaction as is required for PND, and a unique identifier can be provided for the parker without having to paint numbers and stall markings as required for PBS. Zone-based rates can be implemented, and more efficient enforcement methods can be deployed with the use of mobile LPR solutions.

License Plate Recognition (LPR). LPR was invented in the early 1970s in Great Britain and used largely for police enforcement. Early systems had limitations because many license plates in Britain had black backgrounds with white and silver letters that were difficult to read. Fast forward to the 21st century, and there have been significant advancements in LPR camera technology around processing speed, optics, shutter speed, and the miniaturization of camera devices that have improved its reliability, affordability, and size for use in mobile applications. These changes naturally broadened the applications where it is used. Today, LPR can be found in many police cars and is deployed in applications such as toll highways and bridges, border crossings, and scofflaw enforcement. As pay station vendors have provisioned their hardware with alphanumeric keypads and software support for the license plate, LPR is also being used in transient parking enforcement, both on- and off-street.

With the advancement of these new technologies, there is a clear opportunity to shed traditional views on what will work in a garage. Two locations that took a fresh approach are the City of Surrey, B.C., and the University of British Columbia.

City of Surrey
When the City of Surrey created a parking authority in 2012, it was tasked with developing an entirely new approach to managing parking assets. For years, the city relied on traditional, off-the-shelf, paper-based parking processes. But with the development of a LEED-certified City Hall and multi-use garage within a newly transformed city center, the city recognized an opportunity to gather the industry’s best technology providers to collaborate—not compete—in the development of a new, all-electronic, paperless system to manage staff and public parking permits and hourly/event/validated parking.

This challenge fell on Dave Harkness, manager of parking services. When looking at the needs for this new garage, he recognized a new approach would be required. Harkness and his team identified two necessities: supporting the needs of 10 distinct user groups and finding ways to deal with traffic volume in the facility. Many city employees left at the same time, making gate deployment an unviable option without facing significant traffic bottlenecks and customer dissatisfaction.

His department envisioned a solution that involved using seven technologies from a variety of vendors that would have to work together seamlessly. Proposing this idea to various technology and service providers in a cooperative process was a daunting challenge as these companies were not traditional collaborators, and in several instances, competed against each other. Once the various partners recognized that the future salability of what they could jointly develop would exceed what they could provide individually, they covered almost all of the necessary integration and software development costs to achieve a combined technology solution.

The 835-space, three-level underground garage was completed, and a new technology solution went live in February 2014. The solution includes 10 pay stations using PBL, pay-by-cell, fixed LPR cameras at the entrances and exits, mobile LPR monitoring system, citation issuance hardware and software, an electronic permit system, and off-site registration kiosks to allow library patrons to register for free parking in an adjacent surface lot. Transient parkers now drive into the facility, where every license plate is scanned by the fixed LPR camera; a 10-minute grace period is provided to pay at one of the pay stations; and a valid transaction is recorded in a central database to facilitate tracking for enforcement. Data from pay-by-cell; permits and library kiosks are also recorded in this centralized database to provide a truly interconnected system.

The solution has proven highly successful in providing good vehicle throughput in and out of the facility while meeting the requirements of different user groups. Added benefits included eliminating costs with the administration and printing of paper permits by moving to virtual permits that allow city workers and the public to self-manage their monthly parking accounts online. The project was recognized for its innovation with an IPI Award of Merit in 2014.

Harkness says, “An open platform and collaborative mindset is perhaps one of the most important and positive trends in the parking management industry today.”

The University of British Columbia
In 2012, Brian Jones, director of parking and access services for the University of British Columbia (UBC) had a slightly different challenge. UBC, located in Vancouver, B.C., is a global center for research and teaching home to 50,000 students and consistently ranks among the 40 top universities in the world. The campus has more than 8,500 parking spaces spread out over a 1,000-acre site. UBC’s six garages had aging PARCS equipment reaching the end of its life, which resulted in high maintenance costs and regular headaches for the parking department. More importantly, customer service suffered as students, faculty, and visitors faced long waits to get into these garages, especially during high-profile events during which traffic surged for short periods of time. The parking department wanted to introduce a single technology platform for on-street spaces, surface lots, and garages.

Much like Dave Harkness in Surrey, Jones decided to remove the gates and implement PBL pay stations, Fixed LPR, mobile LPR, and virtual permits. His team conducted a four-month test at the Fraser garage, a four-floor facility built in 1982, by deploying the technology solutions outlined. The results were positive.

The test proved the technology could work well together and meet the university’s objectives of improved customer service and positive financial return. By rolling out the same solution to all six garages, Jones estimates he will save more than $4 million in capital costs that would have been required for new PARCS equipment and an additional $300,000 annual savings in employee costs.

From a strategic level, the parking department designed these solutions to promote community engagement by eliminating problems that had become a deterrent to the public from coming to campus to see world-class attractions. As Jones points out, “Parking is the first and last thing you experience on campus, so it is critical to create a good impression.”

Final Considerations
Gateless parking is not a one-size-fits-all solution and will not feed every organization’s needs. PARCS equipment will continue to be an important option to deal with the many parking challenges faced today, but advances in other technologies, such as PBL, LPR, and the APIs that tie solutions together, and new alternatives should be considered.

Chris Chettle is executive vice president and general manager of T2 Canada. He can be reached at chris.chettle@t2systems.com.

TPP-2015-11-Going Gateless

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Parking

TPP-2015-11-The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ParkingBy William F. Kavanagh, AIA

A ccessible parking requirements are fairly straightforward and easy to comply with if you understand what all of the applicable requirements are for a given garage location. This article will focus on some of the basic accessible parking requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so you can quickly assess your existing parking facilities for compliance.

There are numerous accessibility requirements at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, there is the ADA’s 2010 ADA Standards for Design. At the state level, there are the building code’s accessibility chapter or state specific accessibility code, and their references to other accessibility standards such as ICC/ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Useable Buildings and Facilities. Finally, at the local level, there may be additional requirements listed in the zoning code or other ordinances. Where the various codes, standards, and ordinance requirements are in conflict, garage owners should comply with the most stringent.

On Sept. 15, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published revised regulations for Title II and Title III of the ADA of 1990. Accessibility at state and local government facilities is addressed by Title II. Title III pertains to places of public use and commercial facilities. These regulations adopted revised, enforceable accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design govern the construction of places of public use, commercial buildings, and state and local government buildings. These standards apply to all construction projects where the start date is on or after March 15, 2012. The obligation to improve the accessibility of existing buildings and sites is an ongoing one. You are required to remove any barriers going forward, especially when performing restoration or restriping efforts. Your parking facilities are not grandfathered by the accessibility code in place at its time of construction. In other words, it is highly likely that most parking garages in the country need to comply with these standards.

Both the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and Guidance on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design are available as free downloads from ADA.gov. The guidance provides detailed information about the changes, the reasoning behind those changes, and responses to public comments.

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
Minimum Number of Accessible Stalls [208.2]

The minimum number of parking spaces required to be accessible is listed in Table 208.2 and based upon the total number of spaces in the garage. Whether or not a garage is in compliance is impossible to tell at first glance because the total number of parking spaces needs to be determined first. The number of spaces is calculated separately for each parking facility.

Van Accessible Stalls [208.2.4]
One-sixth of all accessible stalls need to be van accessible.

Shortest Accessible Route [208.3.1]
Accessible spaces are required to be located on the shortest accessible route between parking and the building served. Below you can see an electrical room where the accessible spaces should have been located.

Accessible Stall Dimensions [502.2]
Standard accessible stalls need to be a minimum of eight feet wide, and van-accessible stalls need to be a minimum of 11 feet wide or a minimum of eight feet wide with an eight-foot-wide access aisle. The operable word is “minimum”— a seven-foot, 11-inch-wide accessible stall would be considered a violation. Stall lengths are determined by local parking ordinances or zoning codes. Some examples of parking stall lengths are 18 feet; 18 feet, six inches; 19 feet; or even 20 feet long. You should be concerned if you see someone with a tape measure carefully perusing the accessible stalls in your parking facility.

Access Aisles [502.3]
Accessible stalls shall be served by an adjacent access aisle that is a minimum of five feet wide. Two spaces can share a common access aisle except for angled van accessible stalls, which require their own access aisle on the right side of the vehicle. Access aisles shall adjoin an accessible route. Access aisles shall extend the full length of the parking stall. It is not uncommon to see building columns, trash cans, or bollards encroach into the access aisle; these are not allowed.

Floor or Ground Surface [502.4]
Access aisles shall be at the same level as the parking spaces they serve. Changes in level are not permitted, except that slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted at the stalls and aisles. This is a fairly common violation. Ramps in the access aisle are a regular mistake. Because parking lots and parking garage floors are sloped for drainage of water, it is easy to exceed the 1:48 slope limit, which is fairly flat at about 2 percent. Some parking lots have been re-graded so as to provide this required low slope area for accessible parking (see images on page 41). Notice how the new darker pavement has been regarded at the accessible stalls. Be concerned if you see someone with a smart level, which allows for the measurement of slope percentages, at the accessible stalls in your parking facility.

Vertical Clearance [502.5]
Parking spaces for vans and access aisles and vehicular routes serving them shall provide a vertical clearance of 98 inches minimum. Van-accessible stalls are allowed to be grouped together on the ground floor rather than throughout all floors. This allows for the upper floors to have a lesser vertical clearance with shallower floor-to-floor heights.

Identification [502.6]
Parking space identification signs shall include the International Symbol of Accessibility. Signs identifying van parking spaces shall contain the designation “van accessible.” Signs shall be 60 inches minimum above the finish floor or ground surface, measured to the bottom of the sign. This minimum height requirement often results in signs being mounted between the openings of spandrels on the exterior of garages. Many architects are surprised to see these signs on the garage elevations they have worked so hard to design. Aside from the ADA requirements, signage in general can be challenging for accessible parking stalls. State signage requirements, including penalty signs, vary greatly.

Based upon the accessibility requirements highlighted here, you should be able to quickly gauge how compliant your accessible stalls are in your parking facilities. For a more in-depth review and understanding, consider hiring an accessibility specialist.

Substantial effort has been made to ensure that all data and information presented here is accurate. However, the Harman Group cannot accept responsibility for errors or oversights in the use of these materials or in the preparation of engineering and architecture plans. The information contain herein is intended for use by professional personnel competent to evaluate the significance and limitations of its contents and able to accept responsibility for the application of the materials it contains.

William F. Kavanagh, AIA, is director of parking design with The Harman Group. He can be reached at bkavanagh@harmangroup.com.

TPP-2015-11-The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Parking

Giving Drivers A Pass

TPP-2015-11-Giving Drivers A PassBy Tyler Johnson

Our vision as municipal employees is to make Boise, Idaho, the most livable city in the country. Part of making a city “livable” means encouraging visitors to return for subsequent visits, send their children to college in town, or even call our home their home at some point. Parking and wayfinding play a large role in helping visitors find their way around and we are fortunate to have three agencies that work to help make Boise the visitor-friendly place it is:

  • Capitol City Development Corporation (CCDC) manages most off-street garage parking for monthly permit holders and visitors. CCDC has been diligently working on a project that will help establish a brand for parking and transportation and we hope to soon have a comprehensive wayfinding application that will direct drivers to parking that fits their current needs.
  • The Downtown Boise Association (DBA) coordinates communications and activities for the businesses downtown and helps with education and outreach for parking and other projects. The DBA has played a key role in helping businesses better understand the uniqueness of parking supply and demand. Healthy businesses help foster our values of a lasting, innovative, and vibrant city.
  • The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) is unique organization that maintains all roads, traffic signals, and signs, not only in Boise but across the whole county. ACHD is a driving force in improving the bicycle transportation network, as well as keeping our streets clean and running smoothly.

Citizens and visitors to downtown Boise have a variety of options for parking and the single-space meter is a favorite. All on-street parking, is managed by the City of Boise, and all off-street parking is managed by CCDC or one of several different private agencies. In 2013, we began installing credit card-enabled meters to offer a more user-friendly parking experience. The new payment option was well-received so we decided to increase the number of new meters to just about 1,000. Those meters were installed last summer, and citizens are happily paying with their credit cards. If you ever visit the city of trees you will likely see an IPS parking meter on one of our 22-foot parking stalls (we like our long trucks in Idaho).

All that is well and good, but metered parking isn’t always easy to use or clear to city visitors, who rack up violations that leave them feeling a bit grumpy about their time in town. That’s not very livable at all, is it? We knew we had to do something to help them—and us—out.

The Serendipitous Process
Nobody likes receiving parking violations, but being cited in a foreign city can be even more frustrating than getting a ticket at home because we may not be familiar with local rules and regulations. Many people who visit Boise are from other cities where they do not have parking meters or even parking enforcement. We welcome a large number of visitors from other states and many students who attend Boise State University and have traveled a long way to seek an undergraduate or graduate degree. The good news is that we have worked with the agencies mentioned earlier to implement some great wayfinding signs, and we hope to soon have more mobile-based applications to further assist those drivers.

Despite our best efforts, visitors can become lost, lose track of time, or simply have difficulty understanding parking meter payments. City of Boise Parking Enforcement Officers are legendary in their ability to quickly cite vehicles parked at expired meters, and visitors have traditionally not been exempt; after all, we cite vehicles, not people. The frustration that comes with receiving a parking citation may make a person not want to return to our downtown area. Because of this, the City of Boise was willing to try out a new policy that would allow first-time, out-of-state vehicles to receive warnings instead of violations for parking at expired meters.

As anyone in the parking industry knows, it can be very difficult to obtain registered owner information on vehicles, especially those visiting from out of state. Some companies do provide these records but generally at a cost. A new policy was adopted to address these challenges quite successfully. In short, we gave visiting drivers a pass. Out-of-state visitors are not cited on their first expired-meter offense, which makes them happy. In turn, we do not have to purchase records from a third-party agency to send someone across the country a bill for a parking ticket they were already upset about receiving.

This letter, which was received by our office in early June, 2015, shows how this policy has affected non-native parkers in our downtown area.

Dear Sirs: On May 17, we moved permanently to Boise from California. This major change was prompted by many things we like about your fine city, but most of all, the friendly, courteous nature of the many locals we have come in contact with in the course of deciding whether or not to purchase a new home here. Last night, we headed out for an early dinner, taking a break from unpacking. We found a parking place several blocks from the restaurant. After dinner we were surprised to find this ticket on our windshield. After the initial disappointment, we realized that free parking does not begin until 6 p.m., not 5 p.m. like back home. Then we knew we made the right decision to move when we discovered it was just a warning; back home it would be $50 and don’t think twice about challenging. Thank you for the warning. We will be more careful next time as we learn the rules and regulations.

The Results
For other cities that are looking at implementing ­visitor-friendly policies, this was a good decision for Boise. It was not difficult to implement, thanks to our real-time data handhelds.

The first step was a simple programming update to our software that adds a warning to every license plate that has been cited for an expired meter offense. The second step was to train officers that out-of-state plates that have not been cited should receive a warning only for an expired meter violation.

The final step was to just hold onto letters from satisfied visitors in case they were ever needed to support a policy change in a magazine.

Tyler Johnson was parking services/animal enforcement manager for the City of Boise, Idaho, when this story was written. He is now a city police officer (probationary). He can be reached at tjohnson@cityofboise.org.

TPP-2015-11-Giving Drivers A Pass

Learning to Flex

TPP-2015-11-Learning to FlexBy Matt Darst

When hourly parking meter prices don’t keep up with demand, finding parking can be a real burden. Static prices force static behavior. When every meter is priced the same every hour of the day no matter how many spaces are filled or how many drivers want them, there’s no incentive for motorists to park a little further from their destination. Further, uniform pricing doesn’t promote alternative forms of transportation or multi-modal options.

When pricing is too low or doesn’t correlate with demand, motorists fail to internalize parking costs in their decision-making. Considerations such as whether to drive (driving vs. taking mass transit, riding a bike, etc.), when to drive (potentially visiting a location when demand may not be as high), and where to park (walking a few blocks to one’s destination to reduce travel and parking time) are moot if supply isn’t properly priced.

By creating artificial pricing structures, municipalities ensure an uneven distribution of demand. The result? Searching for parking becomes a pain, creating congestion and dangerous conditions as frustrated motorists circle for parking. While there’s a municipal effect on revenue, the real weight of these policy decisions rests squarely on the backs of customers—motorists, merchants, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other stakeholders.

Motorists, Users, and Rage

Pricing meters appropriately isn’t all about making parking convenient. It’s also about safety. Drivers searching in vain for parking tend to be distracted. They also tend to be angry.

Drivers distracted by the search for parking are more likely to get into accidents and are an increasingly deadly threat to road safety, especially to vulnerable road users (VRUs). VRUs are people on the public way that are at most risk; they’re generally unprotected by the shield of a vehicle and include pedestrians, bicycle riders, motorcyclists, and even people on horseback.

Pedestrians are overrepresented by crash data. In 2013, pedestrians accounted for 11 percent of trips but 14 percent crashes—nearly an injury every eight minutes. From 2005 to 2010, pedestrian fatalities per vehicle mile traveled leapt 46 percent. During the same period, bicycle fatalities increased by more than 30 percent.

While accidents are the most significant source of road injuries, more and more motorists are turning to violence to secure a rare parking space. Unlike accident data, there are no statistics available regarding parking road rage and the resultant intentional harm. Still, we know anecdotally that incidences are growing by year and have captured the nation’s attention. In February near Chapel Hill, N.C., three students were allegedly murdered over a parking dispute. And recently in Waco, Texas, a reported argument over a parking space led to a shootout between motorcycle gangs that caused nine deaths, 18 injuries, and the arrest of 170 bikers.

Managing Demand
Because I’m a Chicago native, I’ll use playoff hockey as a metaphor for parking demand. Imagine if tickets to the Stanley Cup finals all cost the same amount and allowed for general seating. Fans would assuredly crowd near the glass looking for seats. No one would sit in the nosebleeds. Uniform event pricing begs for an imbalance of demand.

Hourly metered parking rates are no different. Properly priced, we can fill every seat in the arena. By infusing technology with demand-based pricing models, we can change driver behavior. Optimally, differentiated pricing will lead to more available spaces during peak occupancy, reduce congestion and pollution stemming from people looking for parking, shorten travel times, and encourage the use of alternate forms of transportation.

Whether you call it value pricing, performance pricing, dynamic pricing, or variable pricing, managing demand using meter prices cannot be accomplished through a finger-in-the-air approach. It’s a complex process and one that, without expertise—including data scientists, advanced algorithms, and machine learning—is tough to get right.

Noted economists say that 15 percent of the spaces on a block should always be available to ensure there’s adequate turnover and to encourage parkers. That goal—85 percent occupancy—does not necessarily tell a complete story. While 85 percent could represent an even distribution of demand over the course of an hour or day, it likely does not. Using average demand to guide pricing decisions fails to recognize nuanced, yet critical, parking trends.

Let’s examine a block where demand during the first 40 minutes of an hour is 77.5 percent but increases to 100 percent during the last 20 minutes of that hour. The average occupancy rate would be 85 percent. That’s optimal, so rates shouldn’t be increased on this block, right? Well, not necessarily.

Even though the block is only full one-third of the time, a disproportionate number of customers are parked during that peak period (40 percent). Now, if half as many motorists are cruising as are parked, then 50 percent of the customers are affected. Suddenly, the traditional model for establishing price doesn’t work so well.

A better methodology, like the ones undertaken by Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., is to compare periods when use is too high to periods when use is too low. The difference serves as a marker for when rates should be increased, relaxed, or left alone. But there’s yet more to this story …


Rates can be partitioned across the hours of a day to optimize demand. The key, however, is to reduce the likelihood of pricing errors while still keeping it simple. Rates need to be easy to both understand and communicate to customers if parking managers want them to incorporate pricing in their decision-making. Changing rates willy-nilly without alerting the public won’t change behavior.

When motorists don’t know what to expect in terms of rates, they become hostages instead of customers. When they arrive at a meter, they will pay whatever’s required to park because it’s too late to turn around and go home. It’s classic Stockholm syndrome. Customers might think policy-makers are looking out for them when in fact, the pricing policies are, at best, indifferent to them. Economists have another term for this: price-gouging.

Typically, policy-makers shouldn’t implement more than three or four partitions per day, and whenever possible, should begin and end the partitions on the hour to avoid confusion. It’s much easier for customers to plan their trips accordingly when they know rates will increase at noon as opposed to, say, 12:13 p.m. Generalizing the partitions across a number of days is recommended whenever possible to simplify messaging.

As part of the LA Express Park project, for example, the following segments were implemented Monday through Friday to strike a good balance between clarity and accuracy:

  • 8–11 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • 4–8 p.m.

In Los Angeles, meters operating on Saturday and Sunday needed just a single segment based on reduced weekend utilization. Washington, D.C., is currently piloting demand pricing and will follow similar guidelines.

The amount of a rate increase or decrease must be sizable enough to affect behavior. Smaller changes are generally inelastic and are less likely to affect demand. Larger changes get noticed.

In Los Angeles, rates were reduced at 60 percent of the meters by an average of 11 percent. Rates were only increased at 27 percent of the meters. The rate changes were all increases or reductions of 50 cents or more. The new rates led to a reduction of parking congestion of 10 percent at the highest utilized meters and a 5 percent improvement in use of the underutilized meters. In addition to improving convenience, the adjustments improved revenue by 2 percent as well. Rate changes of just 25 cents have not been as effective in the market at changing demand.

Typically, fewer, well-communicated rate changes carry more weight than frequent modifications. Customers can suffer from communication fatigue—or the exhaustion felt from receiving too much information, if rate changes occur more than four to six times per year.


Price adjustments are generally limited to bands established by ordinance. The bands, however, must provide enough flexibility to change behavior. For instance, laws that prohibit adjustments beyond a percentage of the original hourly rate create an artificial cap. They are less successful because they assume the original rate structures properly addressed demand. That, in fact, is rarely the case.

Time Limits
To really shift demand, parking managers need to use all the tools in their parking toolbox. One tool that doesn’t get used nearly enough is maximum meter stays or time limits. That’s a shame, because time limits are as necessary and effective as a basic hammer or screwdriver.

In most cities, time limits are fairly arbitrary. They don’t really recognize demand or the types of businesses being served by meters on a block. The limits rarely correlate with overarching goals. But by increasing time limits in areas where utilization is especially low (as in Indianapolis and the LA Express Park project area), parking managers can shift meter use away from the high-occupancy areas. In Indianapolis, for instance, the city was able to improve utilization by 20 percent at underused meters simply by extending time limits. The City of Cincinnati recently embarked on a similar course.

Putting It in Park
Creating more availability through demand-based parking only makes sense. When customers get parked quicker, there’s less congestion, fewer distractions, a reduced likelihood of injury or harm to pedestrians and bicyclists, and fewer altercations. But it must be done right, as in L.A. and in D.C., utilizing the skills of data scientists and machine learning to evaluate the parking system and make recommendations about pricing, including segments, increments, frequency, and maximum stays.

Matt Darst is vice president, parking and mobility solutions, at Xerox. He can be reached at matthew.darst@xerox.com.

TPP-2015-11-Learning to Flex

An Outstanding Operation

TPP-2015-11-An Outstanding OperationBy Alejandra Argudin, LEED AP, CAPP

The Miami Parking Authority (MPA)
is proud to offer outstanding service to residents of and visitors to our large city and even prouder to have recently been recognized as one of the first five Accredited Parking Organizations (APO) by the International Parking Institute. Getting there wasn’t all that easy, but every step was valuable, and we’re looking forward to an even brighter future as an APO.

Created in 1955 by a Special Act of the Florida State Legislature and incorporated into the City of Miami’s Charter in 1968, the Miami Parking Authority manages and develops affordable and convenient on- and off-street parking facilities in the City of Miami. MPA is managed by parking industry professionals and financed by parking revenues. Funds not used by operations are returned to the City of Miami, and all ticket citation revenues are directly payable to Miami-Dade County. MPA provides accessible parking for millions of vehicles annually.

As a semi-autonomous agency of the City of Miami, MPA’s main mission is to make the parking experience convenient, affordable, and safe for people in the city. MPA contributes to an efficient transportation system that serves the needs of the public and promotes economic development within Miami. The agency looks to meet the city’s parking needs while being responsive to its customers by continuously improving performance and striving for excellence.
MPA is well-aware of the phenomenal growth our city is experiencing. For that reason, we are always open to opportunity, expansion, and innovation as we stay true to our commitment to excellent customer service, fiscal transparency, public accountability, and effective governance. That’s where our success lies.

When Rachel Yoka, vice president of program development at the International Parking Institute, told us about the launch of the Accredited Parking Organization designation for parking organizations, we felt it was an excellent opportunity to expose our success and immediately became interested in pursuing it. Given our track record of excellence in all areas of operations, we decided we wanted to be one of the first to go through with the process of becoming an APO. After reviewing the criteria established by IPI’s APO Committee, we felt confident that we would receive accreditation, as well as meet the prerequisites to attain the gold standard.

Initial Feelings

We are fortunate to have a CEO who supports any and all endeavors that contribute to the betterment and success of our organization. Additionally, we have a very committed board whose five members allow us the flexibility to explore new technologies, grow as an organization, explore opportunities outside our city, and take calculated risks for the benefit of our community. Our board not only sets policies that deliver results but also offers support to help us move forward with new challenges. Going through the accreditation process solidified that we are on the right track as an organization while bringing to our attention several areas where we can make improvements.

There was no doubt among staff that our organization meets the criteria established by the committee for accreditation. While studying the different aspects represented in the APO designation, we came to the realization that we run a very well-rounded organization that exemplifies a culture of integrity and accountability, and we wanted to share our experience with others in the industry. MPA’s spirit of creativity, strong appetite for innovation, and talented leadership have all played an important role in positioning it as a parking industry leader in technology adoption and fiscal responsibility. We are constantly exploring and implementing technological solutions to meet and exceed the parking needs of our patrons. The MPA board and management team will continue working with leading-edge technology for the convenience of our customers.

The Process
Initially, the APO accreditation process seemed overwhelming as we worked to gather and present the evidence that would demonstrate our accomplishments. But once the different departments became directly involved and took charge of their sections, we were able to produce the requested documentation.

As we organized the documentation, we realized officially for the first time that we were able to meet the requirements of the program. It was a proud moment for us to see that not only did we meet the standards by which all organizations were being measured, but that we also exceeded those standards more often than not.
We assigned a staff member to review the different sections as the departments completed them to make sure all the necessary information was provided in an organized and timely manner. The assignment took approximately a month and a half to complete. We were fortunate to have the support of our staff across the board for completion of this project.

Lessons Learned
As an organization, we had just finished formalizing our strategic plan when we started working on APO. As it turns out, our plan had actually contemplated some of the same standards that we didn’t meet. We also came across others that we had implemented in the past but that are no longer in place. At that point, it became evident to us that we needed to revisit those standards in order to reinforce our qualifications.

After the experience of the APO process, we also learned that we should revive certain items that are meaningful to our customers and to our business. We can easily reestablish certain elements that had been in place in the past, especially for the benefit of our customers. These elements have since been added to our strategic plan so they are implemented by the time we are up for recertification.

Going through the process reassured us that we are a thriving agency. I was excited and proud to see that we continue to be leaders in this industry, not only as it relates to our parking operations, but also in terms of how we run the agency as a whole. Every department functions with a sense of pride that was evident as dedicated staff members became engaged and looked forward to participating in the process to prove that they contribute in equal part to the success of the organization.

When we first became involved in the process, we didn’t know what to expect. But we did know we had the motivation to tackle the project and give it our all. I would not have done anything differently. My advice to any organization going through the process in the near future is to not be discouraged by the size of the APO matrix. Although it is very lengthy, it all comes together with dedication, organization, and level of detail. I also think it was very beneficial to have all the staff involved in the process. Giving our staff a chance to participate in the completion of the project made them aware of their importance to the organization.

MPA is proud to be one of the first five parking organizations to earn the APO designation and be recognized for responsible parking management and operations and outstanding practices in customer service, professional development, safety, and security. We believe the APO recognition serves as a good benchmark to indicate where we are as an organization in this industry. It was helpful in identifying the areas where we are doing well and those we need to improve.

It is very easy to lose focus on the future when you get caught up in the present. In our case, the fact that we had just worked on our strategic plan was very helpful because we were able to incorporate items that we might have overlooked if they had not been part of the APO requirements. In the end, we are very proud to be recognized with this designation by such a reputable organization. The recognition exemplifies our ongoing commitment to integrity and accountability as we provide high-quality parking operations and management.

The designation helps benchmark the organization and allows us to set goals and establish where we would like to be. While it does take time and effort, earning the recognition of the largest association in the industry is well worth the work. It is a wonderful opportunity that allows an organization to stand out among its peers while opening a dialog among different organizations to determine what can be done better for the benefit of customers, employees, and the organization as a whole.

I predict that the quality of the program will be further enhanced as feedback is received from the various organizations going through the process. IPI has set a standard for what an organization should have in place to be successful. We need to continue challenging ourselves as an industry so that we can continue to grow as an organization, educate our customers as to who we are and what our purpose is, and successfully partner with the business community. Parking continues to be the first experience someone has when arriving at a destination and the last experience they will have before they leave. We need to continue our work to make it a pleasant one!

Alejandra Argudin, LEED AP, CAPP, is chief operations officer with the Miami Parking Authority. She can be reached at aargudin@miamiparking.com.

TPP-2015-11-An Outstanding Operation

Fact or Fiction Taking A Fresh Look At Old Views

TPP-2015-11-Fact or Fiction Taking A Fresh Look At Old ViewsBy Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR

How many of you have heard that lightning never strikes the same place twice? How about the one that says opportunity never knocks twice? Then there are the popular “rules” that relate to the work world: You cannot turn a bad employee into a good one, and you cannot be friends with someone you supervise.

Let’s examine these sayings. Any meteorologist will tell you that there is no prohibition against lightning striking the same place twice. In fact, nature is so unpredictable that lightning can strike the same place multiple times.

Regarding opportunity not knocking twice, there was a recent study by University of Michigan and Stanford economists that showed business owners who try to start a business a second time after failing with their first attempts were more likely to succeed on the next go-’round.

For those of you who still doubt, let me tell you the story of James Cash Penney. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because yes, Virginia, it’s true: There was a J.C. Penney after whom the retail establishment was named. Penney struggled often in his early life and had to give up his dreams of becoming a lawyer when his father passed away. He became a store clerk to support his family, saw opportunity in the retail business, and capitalized on it, gradually buying one store after another, losing nearly everything in the stock crash of 1929, losing two beloved wives to disease, and eventually amassing both a fortune and a happy family of five chidren. It’s like the old Japanese proverb says: Fall seven times, get up eight.

The Office
I said something above about bad employees and having employees who are friends. While it is true some employees are “bad” (a word I hear a lot in this area is “toxic”), the reality is they probably didn’t start out that way. That’s true whether you hired or inherited them.

The easiest thing to do with an employee who is not meeting the requirements of the job or does not seem to fit the culture is fire him or her. But that strategy doesn’t take much guts or effort and has a residual effect on the people who remain, especially if the departure is handled rashly. I’m not saying there aren’t situations where a person has to be let go, but it should always be done thoughtfully and after you have undertaken the necessary steps to turn the person into a contributing member of the team. Bad employees can become good—I’ve seen it.

As to whether or not you can be friends with someone you supervise, you can be friends or friendly with anyone as long as there is a basis of mutual respect and employees understand that work is primary when they’re working. Work and enjoying the camaraderie of the people around you are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue that in a well-functioning team environment, friendliness is an important characteristic. Boundaries need to be established, but most people understand that need.

Many of the things we have understood as truths over the years (lightning and opportunity, for example) are actually myths. When we look at our workplace, we need to do a critical rethink of how we have looked at things in the past and not let it blind us from seeing new ways of doing things in the future. Fall down seven times and get up eight, indeed!

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

TPP-2015-11-Fact or Fiction Taking A Fresh Look At Old Views

Incorporating Green Parking Into a Community

TPP-2015-11-Incorporating Green Parking Into a CommunityBy Jody Miller

There is a range of unique ways parking facilities—both renovation projects and new builds—are incorporating sustainable practices. Some are quite unique and step outside the box of standard parking-facility thinking. Across the nation, more and more parking facilities are implementing interesting ways to make parking garages more than just places to park your car and transforming them into valuable social assets for the entire community; many focus on the top deck of the facility.

Growing Green

In 2012, Seattle introduced the largest rooftop community garden in Washington state. The roof just so happened to be the top floor of a parking garage. The 30,000-square-foot space (about the size of six basketball courts) is home to 110 co-op-like plots. After looking at the technical aspects of the project, the landscape architects took to the community to build the gardens, and the project was completed in two months by contractors and volunteers working alongside each other.

Three years later, that Pacific Northwest garden is thriving. Volunteers can sign up online to work on a garden plot that is dedicated to supplying local shelters and organizations with fresh fruits and vegetables. Community inclusion and adding a green—literally green—element is a beautiful example of a parking renovation, repurposing of space, and integration into the community with a definite slant toward and focus on sustainability.

Oakland, Calif., is home to an expansive three-and-a-half-acre parking garage rooftop garden that sits on a professional office campus. The garden, designed in 1959 to create a park-like setting, now has 30-foot-high trees and plays host to weddings and other community functions year-round. The sustainable design atop the five-story parking structure has created a place of nature and peace in the center of a bustling, professional environment.

The Sporting Life

Claremont, Calif., has another interesting and award-­winning method to utilize space in a multi-functional way, incorporating a soccer field into the parking garage design. The soccer field, complete with spectator seating, sits atop a 608-space parking garage. This college campus parking facility was not only designed to host a soccer field on the top deck, but the entire design was part of a LEED Platinum project that incorportates elements such as structural reinforcements that use recycled materials.

space is in high demand on a university campus, another higher-education institution enabled a sport to return to campus by building an athletic field atop a parking facility; it’s the second one on this campus. This sponsored field incorporated many sustainable elements into the design, including trees, flowers, and sidewalks. LED lights were used in the parking garage itself, which was developed to be an open-air facility, negating any need for an HVAC ventilation system. Details as minute as the positioning of lights and speakers on the field to minimize the effects of potential light and sound pollution were considered when designing this parking facility. The university was able to utilize the high-demand space not only for parking but also to welcome back a sport that would otherwise not have a place to compete.

There are many unique and interesting ways communities, universities, and professional business campuses are not only incorporating sustainable practices into parking facilities but really converting parking structures into a larger piece of the community. From a garden that plays host to life’s milestones or serves as a place to eat during an employee’s lunch break to a community garden providing food to local organizations or a soccer field where higher education shines, parking plays a big role in a very green way.

Jody Miller is vice president, client relations, with Parkmobile and a member of IPI’s Sustainability Committee. She can be reached at jody.miller@parkmobileglobal.com.

TPP-2015-11-Incorporating Green Parking Into a Community

Our Role in Ending Distracted Driving

TPP-2015-11-Our Role in Ending Distracted DrivingBy Patrick Wells

Earlier this year, I co-chaired a large regional golf outing in Central Ohio. Our beneficiary was Dom Tiberi, a local sports broadcaster who lost his 21-year-old daughter to a distracted driving incident. I listened to the pain behind the situation and the alarming statistics: 20 to 30 percent of all collisions involve driver distraction, which is now the leading cause of teen deaths. Drivers who text are 25 times more likely to have an accident, and, on average, nine deaths occur daily from distracted driving.

Driving is dangerous and being focused is primary because now more than ever before, distractions are all around us. We have become overconfident in our abilities to multitask behind the wheel. Today, there are more cars on the road, which only elevates our risk of having an accident. It also slows down commutes, creates stress, and encourages multitasking, all in the car. Even the smallest distraction can have a lifetime of devastating consequences.

While I have never been too concerned about this topic because gosh darn it, I’m a good driver, this isn’t about my or your driving skills. You can be the best driver in the world, but when another driver drops his phone on the floor and reaches for it, he takes his eyes of the road for a split second. What if you suddenly stop in front of him? Fortunately, neither you nor the #$&% who hit you was seriously injured, but statistics say it could have been much worse. Driving is dangerous, and at all times we need to be alert and defensively prepared to make a move to avoid a potential incident. It only takes one distracted driver in the right place at the right time and suddenly your family could be without you.

What Can We Do?
In Central Ohio, the Maria Tiberi Foundation launched a campaign to bring defensive driving to the forefront. Maria Tiberi only had three short years of driving experience; the foundation named after her encourages better defensive driver training. It has provided more than a dozen simulators to local police departments so young people can experience the potential consequences of their actions. While this is a great start, the most important piece behind the foundation is continued awareness of the risks of distracted driving.

As parking professionals, what are we doing, and what can we do to raise awareness? We do a great job of letting people know about our awards, social media campaigns, and sustainable projects, but how many business cards have you seen that say something about driving safely or choosing to not text and drive?

As a median average across the country, distracted or careless driving is a factor in one in four crashes. It is also believed that many of these numbers are vastly underreported due to law enforcement’s challenge determining distraction as a crash factor.

Eliminating driver distractions can be achieved only when employers, drivers, and associations work together to create, communicate, and implement clear policies and procedures supported by necessary training and resources, as well as a strong safety culture.

Here are some tips to share with your associates, friends, and family to help stop distraction:

  • Spread the word and get involved in promoting safe driving in our industry.
  • Have a conversion with your organization, and let employees know that your company supports ­distraction-free driving. The call or text can wait.
  • Show and tell your children the importance of good behavior in a car. Many parents, including me, underestimate how distracting children can be while driving.
  • Practice good judgment. When an object such as your phone slides off the seat, pull off the road or wait to find a safe place to retrieve it.
  • While it is not directly associated with distracted driving, encourage everyone, especially when you are in a vehicle as a driver or passenger, to buckle up.

Patrick Wells is regional director of business development for DESMAN and a member of IPI’s Consultants Committee. He can be reached at pwells@desman.com.

TPP-2015-11-Our Role in Ending Distracted Driving