Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Starting All Over Again - Parking After an Earthquake

Hi all,

I promised I would include a video of my presentation to the Australian Parking Convention here so here it is.  Only its me doing it from home and not from the convention.


I have attached a couple of the videos I used as well to give you some perspective and context to what we are trying to achieve in Christchurch.

This video of the devastation of Christchurch is eye opening.  http://youtu.be/zFk7KnRALXk

The vision of the new Christchurch gives us some faith that the future is positive, even CERA is starting to understand how important parking is to a city in rebuild mode.

Its simple, parking supports 70% of all activity in a city.  To have parking support the rebuild of a city, parking must support 'economic growth or economic activity', to achieve that, parking must aim at full 'utilization' of parking spaces, of which the right fit of a 'modern parking methodology' and a 'modern parking technology' is vital.

Understanding what you have happening in the city is imporatnt.  You must be able to monitor the activity before you can respond with prices and restrictions in parking.  In Christchurch we develpoed a heat map of the activity.

I hope you all enjoy the video, but be aware its 30 minutes long so make a coffee to view it.

Happy holidays.

Kevin Warwood

Monday, December 17, 2012

Does Parking Have a Future? Hell Yes!

The Future of Parking

Oh, wouldn’t it be a great tool to be able to predict what might happen in the future and what a great fool you would be to think you can actually do it.  To see coming proceedings as mere connections of the extrapolation of current thoughts, information and events, then put them all together into some kind of sense, would rank you along side ancient elderly fortune tellers and wealthy card players.  Neither exists as randomness tends to catch up with you.  Having said that, there is some enjoyment to be had playing the lottery and imagining that you might win.

Predicting what car parking might look like in the future is also an exercise in futility as there are so many functions and disciplines that touch parking.  All of these functions and disciplines have their own champions to push the boundaries of the accepted frontier and the discoveries of technology and methodology in all of these disciplines will radiate an enlightened knowledge for parking to bathe in.  Who would have thought that the cordless vacuum cleaner, light emitting diodes and infrared ear thermometers would have come from the space program? The future of parking can be anything.

Being the time of year of year it is, it is timely to look into a crystal ball and see what might be on the horizon.  What are the harbingers of things to come?  There tends to be two different types of future products or themes to keep an eye on, work place trends and global trends that touch parking.

Workplace trends that will affect the parking industry are related to what our customers will be doing in the future.  The rise of the female worker, longer working lives (but from home), the appearance of increased processing power in mobile phones, global climate change pressures, economic crises of various sorts, rise and resistance to social media (what’s the next big thing?), working from home, increased PT use and cloud computing, are all themes occurring now and affect the parking industry directly.  Expectations change as the latest widget that gets sold via the television at home, is expected to start to pervade the parking industry, by demand of the customer.  I have confidence that we will keep up with customer demands to be engaged in different ways because if you don’t, someone else will. 

Global trends will always overtake an industry, if it is not exposed to better, faster ways of doing things.  Some new ideas appear like a tidal wave rather than an image of a cowboy slowly moseying his way into the foreground from the horizon. 

The explosion in communications equipment and its increased processing power has been phenomenal.  Quad-core mobile phones are now the norm, a similar amount of computing power to what NASA used to land Apollo 13 on the moon!  You can get an App for anything now.  It almost appears that app-creators have run out of stuff to invent in cool businesses and have started to look around at a business like parking. 

Self driven cars are here.  The results of having these machines about require deep reflection by the parking industry.  Get alongside these developments or get left behind.  I still have some confidence that the mum and dad user will still require a space to park their oil powered old clunker.  The gradual pervasion of the electric and hybrid car, into the national vehicle fleet, will speed up to a fast jog, before moving at a bolt-like pace in the years to come.  Its how soon that will occur that should occupy minds more immediately.  A change over must occur as climate change pressures mount.  I know my mum will be driving her old car for many more years yet.  There will still be millions of these cars around for some time.  I would be more worried if I was a taxi driver than a car park operator as companies can afford to replace fleets of taxis before fleets of mums and dads, replace theirs.

Micromanagement of parking is here now.  With the advent of the ‘cloud’ and the increased database and processing power that it provides, means that we can now search for information and calculate results on a giant computer stuck somewhere in a air-condition warehouse in the middle of a desert, and have the results piped to our mobile phones or tablets in milliseconds.  It means we are able to run calculations on occupancies and prices almost instantaneously.  City and private operations managers can now offer greater ROI by pushing occupancies to a much more intense level.  85% occupancy might already be a thing of the past, as we aim for higher levels.

Another example of technology making headway into parking and a battle I am looking forward to is the NFC versus Pay by Widget battle.  I am already hearing people saying they are coming down on one side or another, or even skipping one technology altogether to wait for the other to triumph.  I suspect there will be a shake out in the industry but there will be room for both.  It won’t be solved next year but it will be bare-knuckled fight to watch.

The entry into the market of technology giants has been a major move in the last couple of years.  3M, Xerox and Morgan Stanley are huge names in technology and finance and more related to other, more glamorous industries.  They are infiltrating the parking business and bringing with them an intelligence that can cross-pollinate into an industry that is not fallow of good ideas, but limited in their ability to apply them and limited by a lack of vision to buy them.  A side affect of this entry into the market by global giants is the assortment of ivy leaguers they bring with them.  All of a sudden, parking is sexy.  Then again, I always thought it was.

There are three more challenges for all parties in parking. Firstly, the one challenge for the parking practitioner is to push the boundaries of technology to create a monster that extends knowledge and more intensely improves utilization.  The response being increased ROI.  It is the job of the client and the customer to tell the practitioner that the monster you have created is what they want.  Never diminish the ability to envision new ideas.

The one challenge for the parking client is to get the mix of parking methodology and technology right, to suit the parking plan, then it won’t matter what your technology looks like, it will always fit the bill.  The response is to increase ROI, although this wont be from parking but from the activity that parking supports.

The one challenge for parking customers is to rely on the practitioners and clients to get it right, to keep up to date with changes and respond to changes made by practitioners to send the parking world in a new direction.

Being at the cutting edge of change is an exciting place to be.  The buzz is palpable.  The New Year will hold some surprises, challenges and some cork popping moments I am sure.  I want to wish you and your families the very best for the season.

Kevin Warwood

Please note: Views expressed in this blog are personal.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Time for a full strategic parking review

The Council badly needs to have a full strategic parking review done. it needs to ask the questions, what is parking there for? Who does it serve? What do we want it to achieve? I think they will be surprised with the clarity of the answers and the rest of the organisation of the parking will fall into place.

Kevin Warwood


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Frog That Went To Town - Modern Parking Technology meets Old School Enforcement

So what happens when a parking service grows organically over many years and loses sight of what they are meant to be there to do, what results they are meant to provide and who they are meant to serve?
This is an interesting group of questions because a lot of smaller, provincial size Council's or city's operations have grown up organically and not really understood why they are there now and what they are supposed to be providing for the town.

Blog readers will have understood my dismay at the New Zealand Parking Association conference this year, where every single session was an enforcement session. Not a single session looking to offer education on parking operations. This example and the article below in the Manawatu Standard (central North Island of NZ), clearly start to show a picture of cause and effect. If no one in Council understands the questions above, then enforcement is merely an unguided activity due to annoy everyone and serve no one.

I do suspect that there are a lot of these types of organically grown organisations around the world now, as modern parking technologies clash with old school enforcement models. My wish here is that Councils and cities recognise that this might refer to them and that they seek the help that is available through education or through consultants. If they don't, I believe they will eventually fall to pressure from retailers and the public, to find a solution fast, and will end up with a system that serves no one.

Parking systems must be created by design, especially with modern parking technology, as new technology exposes a lack of modern parking methodologies being employed, as in Manawatu. The first step is to understand why you have parking in the first place, adding modern parking methodologies and a suitable technology mix to match those methodologies and then tailoring the enforcement programme around that. Let me show you;

1.      Why have Parking? - To help support economic activity and its benefits.

2.      How does it do that? - By increasing parking utilisation and efficiencies.

3.      How do you increase utilisation of the resource? - By using a modern technology mix and modern parking methodologies.

Steps 1, 2 and 3 are all about parking operations, not enforcement. Parking enforcement is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, so to speak, and the level of enforcement is a result of the level of mis-match between the two. We need a good efficient enforcement team and their model must support parking operations, but it should not run parking. That’s cart before the horse stuff.

The Goal of Parking
Parking utilisation is having every single car park used as much as possible and as long as possible. This is the getting the right amount of cars in the right amount of spaces. Congestion, circulating, queuing, rage incidents, property damage and conversely vacancies are two sides of the same coin, inefficient operations. Most of the towns and cities talked about here have these symptoms.

To improve utilisation you must have the right mix of technologies to suit the chosen methodology, that is technology that allows you to micro-manage your parking to target the local activity. Organic systems don’t fit here and must be improved to deliver what the city or town demands, being improved economic activity, support for local businesses and an efficiently run parking system, with parking enforcement concentrating on behaviour change.Frog Parking is world class technology and it seems a shame to have it maligned by attaching it to an organically grown system.


Kevin Warwood

Cr Duncan McCann and Frogparking chief executive Don Sandbrook.

Don Sandbrook, CEO Frog Parking


Please note: Views expressed in this blog are personal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

13th Australian Parking Convention

Hi all,

This time next week will be the 13th Australian Parking Convention's second day. 

I am speaking on Monday on the topic, The Christchurch CBD is Gone – Now What?  This is a presentation on the plans created to re-build the city's parking operations after an earthquake, and what we are trying to achieve by these plans and goals. 

I will be covering areas such as, 

·         The contribution parking can make to rebuilding a city

·         How a parking system should include all resources, public, private, on-street and off-street

·         How parking is both a barometer and bellwether

·         How modern parking technologies and methodologies can allow you to micro-manage your parking more and why this is good

·         How micro-managing parking is the future, as it allows managers to respond to the needs of the local area

I hope you can all make it.  See you there.




Friday, October 26, 2012

Go Counties Manukau!

Very happy week.  Counties Manukau are the champions!!


I couldn't bear to let the weekend go by without a comment on the 'big match' coming up tonight.

Counties Manuaku rugby team are contesting the final of the National Provincial Championship tonight.  Far from the previous heydays of the mid 1990's and the championship winning side of the mid 1970's, the team presents itself with a winning season record, finishing 8 points clear at the top of the table and playing, by far, the most attactive style of rugby in a country who plays the most attractive style of rugby in the world.

Steelers! Go you good things!

Kevin Warwood

Don't Hate Cars, Just the consequences of oil.

Dear readers,

The article below makes some very good sense.

Why should we keep spending money on motorways and roads?  Becasue there is still a demand for them and the point of the article - technology will fix the issues with cars. 

I often wonder if it is oil or cars greenies hate, it seems to be both, where it only makes sense to dislike the consequences of oil powered vehicles.

Have a good weekend.

Kevin Warwood


Friday, October 19, 2012

On-Street Parking: A Stethoscope to Monitor a City’s Economic Activity and Vitality.

On-Street Parking: The Bellwether of a City’s Economic Activity and Vitality.

I have suspected for some time that there will be a ‘one thing’ that is the parameter that will show the health and economic vitality of a city and it will have something to do with parking.  I was right.

On-street parking, when monitored well (as a lot of cities still don’t do the monitoring bit well enough yet but is improving), can be the bellwether of a city’s economic activity and vitality.  A bold statement when there are so many other possible bellwethers out there and so many more that are more fashionable to monitor, such as inflation, building consents, GDP and others.  But none will give you the activity signal immediacy like on-street parking.

There are some rules that have to be in place first of course, you have to be able to monitor the parking meters occupancies or transactions in real time and it doesn’t even matter if you are still using abstract pricing.

On-street parking gives us the one signal to indicate how large, small or size of change that is occurring in the city and you can see it everyday in your parking stats.  I set up a group of reports from my ITSL metro parking machines to deliver data each morning that I can then compare to a standard norm for parking activity. I have had to spend a number of hours and my teams hours getting the right data as the reports from the machines are limited in scope, but we finally are able to monitor the change in activity everyday.

Think about it.  On-street parking is the recipient of every change that happens within a city.  If a construction site opens up, the car parks and the street are full of contractors and other related activities, so my reports show me that a change is happening and I go and look to see that a building is going up.  If a building is being demolished (likely in Christchurch right now), then a private car park opens up and drains the street with cheaper pricing.  My reports pick up a lack of activity in the street and I go and look to find the new off-street car park open and thriving with cars that were parking on-street.

On-street parking is like the collection of arteries and veins of the body.  They flow around the city picking up any changes to activity or vitality of the city.  Get your stethoscope out, make sure it can monitor what you want it to monitor and listen to the changes.

Kevin Warwood

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hotel Parking: A Neglected Profit Center

Hi bloggers,

I found this article which was interesting reading.  It made me think of a discussion I had with a hotel manager once while I was trying to get the car park to add to our business.  The story goes, I asked the manager if I could lease his car park building as his car park was half empty.  He said it was full.  I told him again, it’s half empty, I've just walked through it (which annoyed him as it was a secure site ....) to which he said, it was full, I get exactly the right t number of cheques a month for spaces in the car park.  I said yes, but that just means you’re selling the night time parking (when everyone is at home in the building or apartments).  There is room for casual parking and it would be a great money earner since you are 200 m from the CBD and restaurant and club zone. He looked at me and said (pause) "it’s still full".  I gave up.

There are huge missed opportunities in Hotel parking but educating the hotel owners can be a real issue.

Read it Parking Today at he following link or the article is copied below.  Kudos to Joshua Miller.




Hotel Parking: A Neglected Profit Center

Joshua Miller

Hotel owners and managers spend tremendous time and energy looking for strategic ways to make the most of their hotel asset. What they often fail to look at is that the hotel itself usually sits in the middle of or adjacent to a large parking facility.

This facility often takes up as much real estate, if not more, than the hotel itself. But because parking is outside the core focus of the industry, parking facilities are rarely strategically managed. As a result, the extremely profitable dollars of parking revenue are often left on the table.

Revenue Control

 Most hotels do not view parking as a profit center, but rather as a service amenity. As a result, hotel parking management is usually focused on providing quality service. As long as customers are arriving and departing from the hotel without complaints, most hotel managers are happy, particularly if some revenue is generated along the way.

This thought process often results in parking department managers being promoted from the position of bellman, valet, security officer or front desk agent. If these employees can ensure consistent service, then they are viewed as competent for the job. Unfortunately, they rarely have any business or financial training, and are then put in charge of what can sometimes be a multimillion-dollar operation.

In addition to the lack of training and development, the hotel parking accounting process is inherently complicated, as there are many different hands in the financial “pot.” Hotel guest parking charges are generated by front desk agents adding a code in the front desk management system during the check-in process, but agents often forget to do so.

Event charges are often posted to group master bill accounts by the hotel accounting team, but the amount posted is based on data generated by the parking staff.

Lack or Neglect of Technology

Many smaller hotels or hotels that are first experimenting with charging for parking do so based on the honor system. Only hotel guests are charged, and only those that admit to having a car ever see the fee. The honor system does not work in a hotel environment, and we often see as much as 50% or more customers with a vehicle parking for free.

Controlling access to the facility with parking technology prevents people from leaving the property without paying. Those hotels that do use technology usually purchase a PARCS (parking access and revenue control system) during initial development or when major renovations or ownership changes occur.

These systems are then left in the hands of various department managers who turn over every year or so. Unlike property management systems or physical plant equipment, they are not typically maintained by an IT or engineering department and eventually begin to fail, until they reach the point when those revenue control features they might have offered do not work anymore.

Charging for Parking

Another way that hotels don’t maximize their parking assets is by failing to charge in a market that supports doing so. Many isolated resort, limited service and suburban properties do not charge parking fees for fear of driving their customers away.

They claim that customers faced with a decision between two similar hotels will chose the one without a parking fee. We disagree. While no one wants to pay additional charges if they don’t have to, we see that most guests make their decisions based on brand loyalty, location and/or amenities.

Unless the parking rate is going to be exorbitant, this is not typically part of the decision-making process. We recognize that customers often complain about paying for parking, but they also complain about telephone call rates, high-speed Internet charges, mini-bar fees, room service prices, etc.

The decision to charge should be based on a competitive market survey. By checking the policies and rates of its competitors, the hotel will be able to understand what the market can support. It is important, when conducting this survey, that the hotel review its competitive parking market, rather than its competitive hotel room market.

Once the hotel has decided to charge for parking, just like hotel rooms, parking inventories need to be strategically managed so they generate the optimal revenue yield. Hotel revenue managers look at the value of different groups versus transient business, at how booking varying sizes of contracted corporate rooms affects the availability of transient business during peak and slow periods, what rates guests will pay at various periods of the booking window, etc.

It is rare that a parking garage is managed with this much strategy, but the strategy has the same financial impact on parking revenue as it does for rooms. Failure to manage parking revenue in this fashion is often the most overlooked and easily solved source of parking revenue loss.

Discount/Complimentary Parking

The next area of parking revenue management to consider is the use of discounting and complimentary parking as a tool for the sales and catering departments. Most hotels offer discounted parking to all events and many in-house groups. This is often done automatically rather than strategically. Just as a hotel would not waive a meeting room rental fee or provide complimentary upgraded bar liquor without strategic analysis of the value of the group, parking should not be given away without consideration either.

The last aspect of parking revenue management that often goes unaddressed is utilizing parking inventory to its maximum potential. Hotels that pay for overflow parking when they can fit more vehicles on-site fail to maximize their inventory. This is also true of hotels that pay for overflow parking appropriately but do not track usage and confirm filling from their overflow garages. We often find hotels getting over-billed because they are unaware of their actual usage.

Contract Management

Many hotels outsource their parking operations to parking services vendors because they feel they do not have either the resources or expertise to manage the operation themselves. A parking vendor can offer skilled revenue control, claims management, flexible staffing and professional service, so outsourcing is often an excellent decision. However, the lack of expertise that directs the hotel toward outsourcing can sometimes lead them to negotiating unfavorable contract terms.

Without knowing what is going on in an operation, it is possible to make deal terms that seem competitive but are later discovered to be not as great as originally planned. Consider the example of an internally managed operation about to be outsourced into a percentage rent agreement.

A hotel might make a great deal with their new operator, only to find out later that there was so much extra revenue on the table from the revenue control problems mentioned above, that they end up paying the operator much more than they had planned. Without expertise, parking operators will always have the negotiating advantage when making deal terms, especially in revenue sharing scenarios.

Management agreements in which an operator makes some sort of management fee and passes the expenses on to the hotel are usually less risky if the hotel expects to make a big improvement. However, the set fee can also fail to offer proper incentive to the parking operator.

In addition, market conditions can change such that the original terms no longer make sense. Changes such as increases in rates or operational flow that requires more or less staffing can significantly affect the bottom lines of the hotel or the operator. These changes must be considered in advance and as they occur to determine if the deal structure still makes sense.

Contract compliance can also be a major issue for hotels. As with many contracts in a hotel environment, once the deal is executed and the hotel is satisfied with the operator, the contract goes in a file in the accounting or corporate office, never to be looked at again until renewal. Hotels can be easily taken advantage of in these circumstances.

Operators sometimes “sneak” through costs that were not agreed upon, fail to follow service plans like secret shopping, fail to pay additional rent if certain thresholds are met, etc. A controller or general manager should review their parking agreement on at least an annual basis to ensure that the terms are still fair and that all parties are living by them.

Even though parking is considered an ancillary department that generates only a smaller portion of overall revenue, if effectively managed, it can be one of the most profitable minor operating departments in a hotel. The bottom line of a large hotel parking operation can sometimes contribute more EBIDTA than the hotel’s restaurant. All it takes is the same strategic planning, analysis and oversight that hotels put into the rest of their activities.

Contact Joshua Miller, Principal and Managing Director of Niche Advisors’ San Diego office, at joshua.miller@nicheadvisors.com.

Dunedin Hospital - A case of the frog boiling slowly.

Dunedin has been in the midst of a Hospital Parking crisis for sometime.  Infringing preganant woman is an extreme step to realise that.  Might be a case of the frog being boiled slowly.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Mall Parking - people in circulating cars are not shoppers, they’re people circulating in cars!

100% parking performance is difficult to achieve.  To demonstrate this, picture a row of car parks.  Each car park has a car in it.  As a car pulls out, another parks and takes its place, with no queuing, no double parking and no vacancy.  This is the right number of customers that the car park resource can funnel into the mall.  Too many cars, resulting in double parking and circulating, is a system where the managers don’t have the car park resource operating correctly.  Circulating cars are not shoppers, they’re people sitting in circulating in cars!

In 2008, we were running a trial on parking enforcement in a mall in South Auckland.  The mall owner was keen to see how our new ‘camera car’ was working so we started to use the mall as a trial.  One part of the mall had a P90 restriction as it was adjacent to the local Courts, whose customers were parking in the mall.  The rest of the car park had staff dotted around and clogging up the best car parks during the day.  Turning over car parks is one of the best ways of increasing through-put of customers per car park and these two groups of people were lowering the car park turnover and consequently causing a lower number of customers through the mall. 

The car was fitted with two cameras mounted on the roof.  The car would slowly work its way up the aisle and then in 90 minutes, come back to do it again.  The abuse was incredible.  The enforcement numbers climbed dramatically and so did the revenue to the mall owner.  The phone call volumes to the mall management office and the parking turnover climbed as well.  This was a major shift away from the car park being self managing to an active management style.  The system created free car parks for customers but also generated complaints.  In the end, the mall company relented and asked us to slow the enforcement down a bit.

Mall owners have constantly said to me that when I want to raise a price to slow down the flow of cars into a mall car park because there are circulating cars, double parking, rage incidents and property damage occurring due to congestion, then it will somehow hurt the mall’s business.  The approach is to clear out the car park of all those who are not adding value to the mall, to make room for those who are adding value.  That means staff, people who are parking from neighbouring sites and contractors, should be moved on or asked to pay, so as to raise their value to equal that of the shopping customer.  It must be learnt that people circulating in cars are NOT customers,  they are just people circulating in cars in your car park because your car park is not efficiently run and it is acting as a bottle neck to your business.  Clearing out those who add less value is a sensible business decision.  High performance parking in malls is also a sensible business decision.

Parking performance is simple enough to implement, even a poor mans version.  It’s the collection of data to see how well your car park is operating, then analysing the peaks and troughs, dividing your car parks up into zones, the distribution of high value customers to the best spaces and the restriction through price, time restriction or parking equipment to lower value customers to those spaces. 

The best solution is to have exactly the right number of people parked in exactly the right number of car parks, with no circulating, double parking or vacancy …. for as long a period during the day as you can get.  Customers will be happier, retailers will be happier and people may enjoy going to your mall.

By Kevin Warwood, parking specialist

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reinventing Parking: US Parking Reform 101 (four short videos)

Hi all, here is a great little video series from the Metropolitan Transportation Commision and picked off the good Reinventing Parking blog.  Enjoy.

Reinventing Parking: US Parking Reform 101 (four short videos): Want a crash course on parking reform? Then check out these short videos on parking policy and parking reform. There are four, and each is...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Revenue - Its a Great Thing for Everyone

I am constantly concerned by the lack of drive for local body politicians in Councils and Health Boards that will not see, nor do anything about, the benefits of paid parking in their institutions. 

The benefits are more revenue to proved more opportunity for improvements, better machinery and equipment and mostly, an ability to drive better behaviours in parking habits.

Hospitals have the best opportunity to improve their ‘lot’ in life as the extra revenue will always help out a hospital, yet they cannot put up a car park building to house the demand for parking from the public, patients and staff.  A parking building pays for itself and doesn’t need to come out of ‘vote health’ at all. Yet one of the biggest gripes about hospitals is a lack of parking.  There are so many ways that technology and modern parking methodologies can support the vulnerable so that they are looked after in a paid parking environment, but these are getting ignored.

Council’s can support the growth of a city, in a small way, by how it organises and operates its parking.  Key support should be given to maximising the use of every bay the Council owns and operates.  It cannot do that with ‘abstract’ parking prices.  You cannot affect positively the activity in an area if you charge the same price in a busy area as a slow area.  We have seen recently Auckland’s response with vast swathes of city linked together with the same price for parking, assuming that occupancy, supply and demand are all similar.  I don’t think so.  It’s the response of politicians getting involved in something they have a passing knowledge of.

These organisations can drive the growth in good habits by adopting a modern parking methodology that allows for a constantly adjusting (within parameters), dynamic network of parking resources that responds to the changing balance of supply and demand in the localised area.  The by-product is increased revenue and that’s a good by-product to have.

Kevin Warwood

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Time For Choice from our Parking Conference

For many years I have been going to parking conferences and I look forward to them as well.  In many parts of the world and in many of them I have been astounded at the changing technologies that are shaping how we do things in the parking world, different companies that have come and gone and the wide range of methodologies that have been worked and re-worked (or even re-packaged) in an attempt to do things better. 

The common theme through all of these conferences, admittedly run by professional conference companies, is that they are wide in variety, topics and speakers.  The New Zealand Parking Conference, in Dunedin this year, has to be the narrowest of scope of programmes I have seen in a long time.  This is a programme entirely focussed on Enforcement, while Operations, Technology, Management, Valet, Marketing have been left out in the cold and untouched.

Look at the up coming British Parking association Conference programme on 27th September 2012,

  • The Parking Charges Debate
  • Sustainable Towns
  • Town Teamwork
  • Parking Strategy
  • Understanding Parking Behaviour
  • Innovation and Technology Focus
  • Maximising the Evening and Night Time Economy
  • High Streets of the Future
  • Accessible Towns
  • Understanding and Exceeding Customer Expectations

This is a great programme and it covers all aspects of parking, except Enforcement, which is covered by the speakers they have.

Look at the October 15th National Parking Association convention’s programme.  They run a choice of six tracks to mix and match from,

  • Certified Parking Professional (CPP) - education
  • Peak Performance - Smart Cities: The Next Wave in Transportation and Parking Management
  • Technology - Smart Cities: The Future of Citywide Parking Management.
  • Finance - Driving Performance: The Realities of Revenue Control, People, Process & Technology
  • Valet - How To Deliver White Glove Service to Meet Rising Front Line Service Expectations
  • Management & Operations - The Big 3: Revenue, Maintenance & Management

Nothing in here about Enforcement but they also cover topics in Airport and Hotel parking and have a valet Olympics for fun.

NZPA programme is,

  • WOF & Licensing Enforcing
  • Kerbside Discretions/Interactions/Explanations
  • CCS Disability Action - update on new mobility cards
  • Ministry of Transport Updates
  • History of the Number Plate

I am thinking that the NZPA conference is so narrowly focussed that it has become a Council only jaunt and since Councils have a small market share, in the bigger cities anyway, they ignore the majority of the car parking market.

I hear that there is a Healthcare Parking conference planned for Christchurch in December this year, to coincide with the re-build of Christchurch.  Maybe there will be specialist conferences pop up to fill the large gap left by NZPA.  There is already an airport conference for Australasia that has a parking component in it, as parking is a huge part of airport operations these days.  Other specialist conferences should be welcomed as the topics mentioned above must be covered regularly in New Zealand.

I think there is a need for a Parking conference in New Zealand, that will cover all of the topics of parking, offer some education and give participants, and that means the private sector as well, a well earned choice of topics.  This will only create a closer and better performing sector that will deliver better and more consistent standards to the public of New Zealand.

Kevin Warwood

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Free parking - How do you monitor its Performance?

I look at it like this, if you have a P120 restriction in an area, then in an 8 hour day (9.00am to 5.00pm), then turnover will be 8 hours divided by 120 mins or a turn over of 4.  Best utilisation would be a turn of 85% of that being 3.4 turns in a day.  If you have a P30 retriction, then in an 8 hour day, turnover will be 16 and best utilisaton would be 13.6 turns in a day. The turnover would then be the target.  If we get lower turnover, then the restrictions are wrong, If we get higher turnover then the restrictions are wrong.... Would you agree?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Poor Mans Performance Parking II - A Matter of Balance

Like most things in life, balance will always bring most rewards to most people.  Once influences get involved that do not understand the need for balance and they try to manipulate the system to their favour, or move the system out of a lack of or full competence, then the system is out of balance and undue pressures occur. In parking, this will look like queues, circulating traffic, or streets of vacant spaces …. and frustration for all.

My definition of ‘balanced parking’ is as one car pulls out, another pulls in, that is, supply and demand are in balance.

Balanced Parking is a system where all of the levers that a parking resource manager has at their disposal are being used to create a system that favours access for all who require it, has little or no queuing, little or no circulating, little or no vacancy, is well communicated and has the trust to be managed at a low level. 

Levers of a Balanced Parking system are those that affect the supply or demand of the car park resource.  These influencers are things like time-restrictions, number of spaces, proximity of the car park to the demand drivers, lighting, security, safety record, neighbourhood, geography, barrier versus pay & display, lack of acceptance of payments, look & feel, product categories, staff or lack of staff, marketing, technology, enforcement and of course, price. 

Mt definition of supply is car parks, and demand, are cars looking for a car park.

Abstract pricing is inefficient.  We need to understanding that a one size fits all approach creates anomalies and favouritism to a few.  In some cities they have a single on-street price for parking.  The anomalies that this system has created are huge.  In Christchurch where an earthquake decimated the CBD of the city, now has activity beavering away on the west of the city but the east is still to have any new activity appear.  The response to the one size fits all policy there, is that the west is under priced and queues and traffic circulation is occurring and the east has 6 cars per week parking on one street, but the price is still the same.  Abstract pricing does not work.  It must be micro managed.  Technology and new management techniques allow for micro-managing parking operations to a much lower level now.

The city’s resource must include all of its stock, which includes private resources as well.  There is little point in trying to understand and then respond to what the demand is telling you, without understanding the supply.  This is clearly a difficult task, especially if the records of supply have been ineffectually kept over time.  Understanding what is happening in front of you each day will make a lot more sense if you do know your supply.

Occupancy is the ultimate indicator of balance.  We will not be able to get to a true 100% occupancy measure ever for obvious reasons but we should be able to get to a figure that you are comfortable with.  Operating at 90% plus occupancy will require some very efficient technology, such as space detectors etc.  Shoup spoke one space per block as the general figure for occupancy that delivers general balance.  I suggest that if you only have a low tech approach, you may have to put a simple system in place and sneak up on the occupancy figure over time by refining your processes and procedures.

A simple low tech method of getting your occupancy figure and balance, is to use the revenue transposed to time.  This is the system that makes a few assumptions, but is a simple method to use and can be easily set up and understood. 

First, we make the assumption that revenue equals the appropriate time spent parking.  In truth, this is inaccurate for example, people will buy an hours worth of parking and then leave after 50 minutes.  The next person does the same, and on a busy day, you can end up with revenue equalling 120% of the actual time purchased.  Conversely, you can have someone sit in a space using up the time, and only paying when prompted by the visit of an Enforcement Officer.  Occupancy will be at low levels here.  But if we understand these possibilities, then we can be happy with the assumption that revenue equals the appropriate time spent parking.  For our example we will say that the revenue for the day was $21.00.

Secondly, we take the possible revenue that a system allows, for example, if your parking system allows for parking between the hours of 09:00 to 17:00 and the rate is $3.00 per hour, then the possible revenue is $24.00 per day.

Thirdly, we divide the revenue by the possible revenue and our occupancy for the day is $21/$24 = 87.5%.   Our low tech system is close to being in balance or demand equalling demand.

Working out what the ideal number is for your city is difficult as it is unique to your city, so saying 87.5% is the right number is wrong.  One precinct of our city has a hospital in it.  The occupancy, based on revenue, spikes at 7am to 8am, as the staff change over shifts.  The rest of the day is at about 60%.  So do you set about amending your pricing to reflect the 400% before 8am or the rest of the day?  Each precinct and each city is different and needs to be worked out over time.

One of my projects has been to develop a low tech system to understand the balance, divide the city into relevant precincts and to start to collect occupancy data on each precinct to show how supply meets demand in each area.  The results have shown that recommendations for some serous price reductions are called for in some areas, price maintenance in other areas, but no price rises can be justified yet.

The simple system we have implemented can deliver data that can be reviewed at anytime, for anytime that money is being put into machines, and face it, these are generally the only times we need to monitor ‘balance’ anyway.

Kevin Warwood

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What's the Big Fuss about SF Park?

In one of my roles at a commercial car parking company, we would review up to 50 or so of the 80 or so car parks we operated, every week.  We would look over its performance, its performance against the surrounding competitions’ car parks and how it was tracking to budget. 

The review would include Average Ticket Values (ATV), Average Length of Stay (ALS), prices, volumes, staffing, revenues and occupancy etc.  We would look at the opposition’s volumes and prices also.  Out of all of these reviews, each week, the Operations Team would come up with about 10-15 change recommendations, and put about 10 or so on a ‘watch list’.  These changes would go out after the Wednesday meeting, to sign writers, programmers, and operations teams, to start dropping flyers to let customers know of the changes coming.  The changes would occur on the Tuesday of the next week as we didn’t want to make changes on a Friday or Monday.

A lot of the main parameters here are simple and easy to understand.  The tell you a lot about the behaviour of the customer relative to the operating conditions of the car park plus the surrounding competitive environment.  If a competitor drops their price by a $1.00 per hour, it’s going to affect the occupancy, volumes and ATV of the car park.  If a major load creating business shuts down or moves from the offices next door, the volumes and the ALS will change and so you need to respond with a change in price or other product categories.  All of these things are levers that affect the occupancy of the car park.

Occupancy of the car park site is the parameter that is the sum of all of the other parameters.  All of the other parameters are levers to drive full occupancy and full occupancy is a measure of an active, economic and effective car park site.  Occupancy drops, you need to review the other parameters to get occupancy back up, or if occupancy climbs, you need to review the other parameters to get the occupancy down to a manageable level. 

Occupancy has been how off-street car parks have been managed for as long as I can remember, but we now have a fuss over the introduction of occupancy as a prime parameter to controlling and managing on-street parking.  Why?  It’s not new.

Kevin Warwood

Monday, June 25, 2012

Do Hospital Staff Have Unreal Expectations for Parking?

Both Sides Unreasonable here?

Unfortunately, Lorraine, as lovely a lady as she appears, said "NHS staff are expected to stop what they’re doing four hours into their working day to go and move their cars." I don’t think that is the expectation. I think the expectation is for staff to not park in these areas or there wouldn't be a 4 hour limit. Having said that, there appears to be a clear need for some staff parking facility. If the NHS decided to go down that route, it could pay for it by charging staff to park or selling some kind of BOOT scheme to a private investor. It would solve the issue.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If only ...............

You are put in a room with a few other suitably qualified people and you are given as many pieces of butcher paper and marker pens as you like. 

You are posed a question, “if you can re-build a city’s parking infrastructure with no resource restrictions, how would you go about it?”. 

So how would you start?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Car Park Signs, Location, Location, Location.

Car Park Signage

The underlying principles of signage are the same, to communicate the price, features, value and benefits of a product in order to close a sale, to offer some direction or for safety purposes.  Signage can boost revenues and some can put a damper on revenues if it is not done well.  It has to match the message the business gives off, to get the sale and it has to be visible.  All of these things are true but what can signage do to help a parking business?

Some general mistakes made are that signs can have too little information or too much information and it can be difficult to find a middle ground.  Other mistakes, and my pet hate, is that car parks can be cluttered up with far too many signs, so many that, a person driving a vehicle cannot fathom all of the information that is being thrust at them.  I have always been in favour of too few signs if I had a choice between the two.  The fonts are important too, in that you should choose a single font on your sign and consistency on all signs through your car park to make it look professional. 

Some people recommend that the signs are changed regularly to catch the users eyes, but I believe that changing signs are great for the advertising signs out the front of the car park to lure customers in, but inside that car park, the signs should be simple, direction finding, safety conscious and clear.  Leave the wiz bang signs for out front.

Finally, in parking, we need to consider location and the shape of the sign.  Location, Location, Location is what the real-estate people say and mostly they are correct.  In signage, location is key but it must relate to the message you are trying to get across.  If it is a safety message, the location should always have priority at areas of greatest risk, like the convergence of vehicle, the proximity of vehicle to pedestrians etc.

For a selling style of sign, the colours and the shapes normally mean that should be close to a power source (LED’s etc) and in a place where they can be seen by the most people, without running into issues with Council’s rules.

Interestingly, the shape of signs can tell us a lot also, where Squares signs are used to portray information to an audience. This is found in safe condition signs, public information signs, and fire equipment signs. In contrast, a circular sign is an instruction that must be followed. Both the mandatory and the prohibition signs provide instructions that cannot be ignored.  Lastly, there is the triangle of the warning sign. This is used to convey danger. It can also provide information but is primary purpose it to quickly tell you to be.

If you are clever, you work out a great sign, with a huge message and a small footprint, a colour and shape that will capture the attention of the audience it is meant to capture, and it is in a location that will  seen for some distance…….and wont capture the attention of the Council watch dogs.

Kevin Warwood

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reverse City Parking Planning

Friends of the Blog will know that taking on the parking issues at Christchurch City has been a huge challenge.  If you take an eraser and rub out everything that was built in the CBD over a hundred years and start from scratch, what would you build?  Over a wine or two, you might come up with some clever answers, mostly without the consequences of budgets etc.  But really, if you had that situation delivered to you, what would you build?  How would you prioritise everything?  Which issues would you start with first and how would you time your project completion times?  Now you might understand the difficulties of starting from nothing.

The team have drafted a Short Term Operational Parking plan (STOP) to give us some guidance for reality today, to try and link up to the various plans that the city has in the future.  The difficulty was that today’s requirements are almost exactly opposite to the requirements of a normal city plan, which normally is to encourage alternative transport, support a good quality of life and encourage economic vitality and replacing it with encourage people back to the city, encourage economic vitality, drop prices to reflect the lack of use.  More on the plan later.

The STOP plan (Stop parking plan as some wags have named it!) is designed to speed response times up for changes to the various controls, such as price changes etc.  Price changes are slow due to working through new internal policies as these requests are coming through for the first time, but the relevant parts of the organisation are buying into the plan admirably.  The equipment has major limitations to speedy price changes.  A meeting with the supplier around requests to speed the process up was interesting.

Price changes need to occur quickly as within the city right now, a street may have one use today, but in three weeks time, it may have an alternative use altogether, i.e. a building fall-zone takes out all of the meters and the associated contractors and staff then drive the need for prices rises up, before disappearing as the building is demolished and the street empties out.  Speed in response to changes on-street are paramount right now.

We live in interesting times in Christchurch right now.  Reverse city planning, very fast changes in on-street usage, fast changes to on-street demands, bottle necks in equipment capability but wonderfully responsive management.  Strange days indeed.