Saturday, November 2, 2013

Parking Cows - What Farmers Know about Parking.

Most lay-people wouldn’t have a clue as to how modern parking is designed and operated today. 

However, those same lay-people will have a very good idea on how to run a farm efficiently and what

happens to the farm and the cows if you are a poor farmer.   

A farmer walks a tightrope to balance the feed the stock might eat with the amount to feed the farm might grow.   It’s a tightrope that a City has to walk as well, balancing the amount of parking opportunities created in a limited number of car parks with the number of cars that want to park in them each day.   

Modern parking now has better ways to operate, especially with the advent of clever technologies and the discovery of the theory of how to operate a city’s parking.  Just like farming, the farmer is always trying to read about the latest techniques and to deploy the latest tractor or irrigation system to increase productivity to the farm. 

The main role of parking in the city is to benefit selected daily activities of the city.  This means organising parking to serve retailers, commercial operations, leisure seekers, commuters and of course allowing for community access.  That is shopping, meetings, the gym or park, workers and disabled, cycling, motorbikes, trucks etc.  

Parking isn’t free and hasn’t been free for many years.  It should not go back to being free in any form unless the lack of occupancy determines that it should be free, but mostly it should be priced to allow just the right amount of cars parking in just the right amount of car parks.  If it’s too cheap, we get issues with circulation, cruising, double parking, property damage and rage incidents.  If it’s too expensive, then we get vast stretches of street where no one will park at all.  This is demonstrated in many cities and towns today where the parking has a single abstract price for parking in a casual car park right across the city.  This has creates a badly lop-sided nature to parking in the city and this type of structural weakness is the single most damaging act that parking can do.  This impedes economic activity at a time when the city and its rate payers should expect a parking activity to be facilitating economic activity and community access.  

I used an analogy at a previous conference that seemed to work when trying to describe how a city’s parking should be organised and that was; if you have a farm that is divided and fenced into 10 paddocks, we have all of our cows at one end of the farm, the grass is all gone and all that is left is just the mud created by the overcrowding and a lack of an ability to manage the consumption of that grass.  At the other end of the farm, we have overgrown grass that has now gone to seed and is not very palatable.  There is not a cow to be seen here (exaggerating to make the point).  In fact the gates and other equipment are starting to be mothballed through lack of use.   If you were a farmer that ran your farm that way, you would have the bank and the SPCA knocking on your door.  This management style has been acceptable in parking in the past, but not now.  Unfortunately, many cities and towns still farm their parking this way today. 

To find a solution on the farm, we would relocate the cows around the farm to eat the grass down evenly.  Each paddock would be monitored to check the amount of grass being eaten, just in case a particularly hungry group of cows ate the grass faster than before.  We would monitor the seasons so we could manage the farm more closely when the grass stopped growing in winter, or in the summer we could get some of our repairs and maintenance out of the way while there was plenty of grass.  In fact, if we were really good, we could increase the number of cows on the farm in summer or cut hay with the extra grass.  We would have to reduce the number of cows in winter as the feed became short.   

Farmers have to micromanage the cows around the farm and having a more efficiently run farm would improve profitability and allow us to increase productivity.  That means running more cows per paddock. Increasing productivity in parking terms is increasing our occupancy rates to ensure more cars are being parked in the same number of car parks.  Sound familiar? 

On the farm, the paddocks allow us to manage the cows more efficiently by tailoring the number of cows to fit the grass growth in each paddock.  In fact we are putting just the right amount of cows in to suit the characteristics of the paddock, its growth, its water supply, its share of sunlight and its quality of fencing.  Dividing the farm up into paddocks makes sense and this one simple thing allows us to manage the farm for better productivity and efficiency.  It just makes sense. 

Dividing the city up into zones that reflect the characteristics of that zone also just makes sense.  All we have to do in parking is to divide the city up into zones the right shape and size to affect the parking load creator in that zone.  The zone could fit around the retail zone, the commercial zone, the education zone, the park zone or whatever other zone you have.  Then we monitor the grass growth, oops, I mean occupancy in each zone and we use price to move the cars (cows) around. 

If the grass is tastier in the paddock next door, without a gate the cows would wander in and eat everything and trample the grass until it’s all destroyed.  Price acts like the gate, stopping cars from sitting in one area, cruising, double parking and causing congestion.  Just like a gate can be opened or closed to let a certain number of cows into the paddock to eat just the right amount of grass, the price should be able to go up and down also to control the number of cars in a zone to take up just the right amount of car park spaces. 

Gates and monitoring grass growth allow us to make better decisions on how we relocate cows around the farm for better farm efficiencies. Prices and monitoring occupancies allow us to make better decisions on how we relocate cars around the city for better parking efficiencies.  Even a lay-person understands that.

Kevin Warwood
Parking Operations Designer

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roading and rebuild issues are burning questions for inquisitive Cantabrians.

Since August, 112 reader queries have been sent to The Press for answers in Mainland Live's Q&A.

Out of the questions, 38 were about roads and roading issues, while 36 were about the rebuild.

The rest were about recycling, the environment, city maintenance, artworks in the city, transport, carparking, and buses.

Several people asked about right-turning signals at Christchurch intersections.

"I've been wondering for some time why there are so many light-controlled intersections that don't accommodate the traffic trying to turn right over the multiple lanes of oncoming traffic," said Karen, who withheld her surname.

"An example is the roadworks on Carmen Rd, where lanes are blocked in the centre of the road, forcing two lanes of traffic into one as they approach the lights. The upshot of this is if you are turning you cannot get a break in the traffic, forcing you to utilise the yellow and red lights. Why can't we have turning signals on these very busy intersections?"

However, there is no ready answer for this question, as the Christchurch City Council has a procedure for investigating whether right-turning signals are needed.

With rebuild questions, readers were concerned with the fates of structures and facilities they were familiar with.

Several asked about AMI Stadium - both old and new - and when rubble will be removed from the old Sydenham Heritage Church site.

Heritage buildings like the old Provincial Council Chambers and the Majestic Theatre on Manchester St also attracted questions about their fates.

"Every time I drive past the sad remains of the Provincial Council building on the corner of Durham and Gloucester streets, I wonder whether any of the beautiful hand-painted ceiling in the main building survived enough to be rescued," asked S Shaw.

The reader would be happy to know the council has said most of the stencilled ridge and furrow ceiling had been retrieved, along with the chamber's stone corbels, many undamaged, and fragments of the stained glass.

Examples of questions that have not yet found answers:

"Is there anywhere in the city that recycles the clean plastic wrapping from  The Press? I have been unsuccessful with my inquiries. It cannot go into the yellow bin and it is not good putting it into the landfill."

"Could you give us some explanation for the severe erosion of the sandhills north of the Waimairi Beach Surf Club? We have lived in this area now for 16 years, each winter we get storms that take bites out of the sandhills; they soon recover; but I have never before seen the dunes disappearing at the present rate. Has the local seabed shifted with the earthquakes off the coast or are there some other reasons?"

"Since the installation of the stretch [of new footpaths] outside the newly built shops on the corner of Westminster and Cranford Sts, I've seen two people tumble on to the road from the steep camber of the sidewalk. I think there's a serious accident waiting to happen to the less agile, aged or very young, or visually impaired. Can you please suss out the rational behind this departure from the flat, hazard-free footpaths we've had forever?"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reconfigure for Greater Utilisation

Ever been frustrated by the current parking restrictions, because they don’t seem to match what is actually happening in that part of town?   The buildings have gone but the P5’s and Loading Zones are still there, not being used and just adding more on road decorations where clarity is needed.

Yellow lines, metered spaces, loading zones and time limits – such parking restrictions are an accepted fact of city life as a device in a local authority’s toolkit for managing efficient use of (usually) scarce stock of parking resources.

For most cities around New Zealand, parking provisions have developed organically, over time. But in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes with its crumbling streets and demolished buildings, Christchurch City is facing the prospect of going back to square one and making major changes to the use of many car parks.  The Road Corridor Operations Manager, Paul Burden, decided that there was a need to go through the city and check if all of the currently marked parking and road restrictions were still required or could some be removed and returned to the public for normal use.  An example was, if a building was demolished, did we still need the P5 that was marked on the road outside that premises, which stopped the space being utilized by the normal user.

That process has started with building a picture of the supply of car parks, the signage that was left and the number of spaces and signs damaged by falling buildings and heavy equipment. The Parking Operations Team undertook the survey of on-street parking within the 'Four Avenues', the central city precinct bounded by Moorhouse, Fitzgerald, Bealey and Deans Avenues.

A team of dedicated staff members braved the streets and lumpy footpaths armed with GPS locators to geo-mark every parking sign, road marking, driveway and adjacent land use.  The data was fed into a database and attached to each car park or stretch of road utilising an internal document management tool.  The result is a very sharp (Google type) map (GIS file) in Geo-media, where a user can click on to a space and find out exactly what restriction is on the road, what the relevant Council ‘resolution’ states and provides an ability to run detailed reports. 

The next stage involved matching the current parking provision with the current need as they are now, as the use will likely be in the future very different to what was required in the past. Making changes is no simple task.  All the parking provisions are established legislatively so wherever a change is deemed necessary, the existing provision has to be revoked and a new resolution made to effect the change. And before any new resolutions are put before Council, consultation with affected building and business owners and operators must be completed.

The parking resolutions are being stored in an internal document folder and this is now the destination for all parking and road resolutions.  Collecting all of the resolutions was one of the key outcomes that the Traffic Engineers, Capital Programme, Transitional Project teams and Parking Operations and Enforcement asked for.  It has made all of their lives easier.  With the ‘Viewer’ version of the programme, the up to date information can now be distributed to all teams that have a responsibility to read, write or amend parking resolutions to Council or the Community Boards and at a much higher accuracy level.

The Parking Ops Team walked over 1000’s of kilometres of road, recorded the current use of over 10,000 car parks and returned many car parks back to normal unrestricted use.  More than that, they now have a very accurate tool that can tell you exactly what parking road markings are painted on the street and what is on the sign, without having to leave the building, speeding up the time it takes to make changes to on-street parking.

A further use is to allow a fast response to on-street parking data by giving a small amount of freedom to configuring car parking to allow for better utilisation of parking.  This brings the accepted timelines for configurations down to 12 months to 2 years and allowing the configurations to be changed to match neighbourhood characteristics much quicker rather than few it as an asset and never change it for 10 years.  A block of neighbourhood can cahnge its characteristics in that time to almost not resemble its original use and as such the road parking configurations must also change to keep the parking utilised.

The future steps will be to extend this tool to possible review issues in other high use urban areas and other high traffic areas, with the aim of improving the range of options for improving the utilisation of each and every car park.
Kevin Warwood
Parking Operations Designer
These comments are my own.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

New Zealand Parking Association Conference Gets a Pass Mark

Well it was that time of the year again, with a visit to the New Zealand Parking Association conference, this time held in Wellington.  I have to take my hat off to the organisers as they tried to improve the programme offerings with a more rounded selection i.e. not just about Enforcement.

The programme had Auckland Transports' Scott Ebbett and Liz Hogan covering off Parking Design and the Baycorp trial.  We also had some great stuff from a comedian in the morning on the last day to break up the fare.  Well done to Kevin Nally's team.

I presented a subject close to my heart, 'How to reform, transform and preform Council parking'.  I have attached a link to, the first tie I have used software like this.  It was very simple after I had checked and re-checked the Internet link many times.  You can find my presentation here.

Ok NZPA, lets make sure you keep improving.  Parking is not just wardens and infringements.  I noted there was no one from the airport, hospital, hotel, property or valet parking industries and a no show from Secure Parking, Wilson Parking nor Care Park, that I noticed.  The latter two having an office in Wellington.  The equipment displays were also smaller than usual.  I suggest this is because of the lack of decision makers attending.

I will look for ward to seeing the new programme from the new committee and hope they use overseas conventions as a good guide in future.

Kevin Warwood

These comments are my own.


Retail Parking …….. It shows no one is 'getting it' ....... yet.

Retail parking is all about capacity, which directly relates to footfall.  You can even work out average spend per car and per car park.

All of these views, including the British Parking assoc, are commenting and making suggestions on physical asset design, not parking operations design.  This means that if you have 100 spaces in a mall, and you overfill them, no one will enjoy the experience but more importantly, you don't increase footfall, and therefore revenues in the mall.  This is the norm for malls.  By comparison if you have 50 spaces on-street (normally much less capacity) then the local shops are suffering through a lack of footfall. 

An answer is to increase the turnover to achieve a desired occupancy rate over a period of the day to make the car parks as productive a possible, for as long as possible.  This means the price might need to change a couple of times a day to encourage shopping in the High St at shoulder times, by price or time restriction (just means revenue comes through Enforcement not Operations). 
A key understanding is that if you have 100 spaces and there are 150 cars seeking a spot, you still only have 100 shoppers, not why overfill them?  Conversely, if you have if you only have 50 cars, the parking operation is equally as badly run.

The parking operation needs to be designed to allow for as many shopping parking opportunities as possible without having restrictions set too short or too long or prices too high or low.  This might take some trial and error.

Once the best mix of price and/or restriction is found, to achieve 85% occupancy, then you need to work on increasing capacity, which is an asset issue, not a parking issue. 

When everyone understands the science behind it, the issue is depoliticised as the emotion is removed, and it becomes an economics issue … where it should be.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Breaking Through the 'Google' Glass Ceiling - 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 extrapolations of current thoughts, information and events, then put them all together into some kind of sense, would rank you along side ancient fortune-tellers, soothsayers and wealthy card players. Neither really exists as randomness tends to catch up with you, although some always say they have the gods on their side as they walk through the casino doors. It would be great to be able to do that but to understand that technology will bring many changes is not the realm of a clairvoyant, but merely a pragmatist. To determine what the revolution will be, sometimes feels like it is within the realm of a clairvoyant as most of the recent revolutions were out of left field.

Predicting what car parking operations 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, but having said that it does appear to be in the field of technology that the changes are coming at an ever increasing rate.

Being at the end of this book, it is appropriate 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, increasing frequencies of economic crises of various sorts, rise and resistance to social media (what’s the next big thing?), working from home, increased PT use, self driven cars 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 internet television at home, is expected to start to pervade the parking industry, by demand of the customer immediately. I have confidence that we, as an industry, 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. Global trends when accepted and embraced by an industry tend to permeate the suppliers and operators of an industry as they embrace the changes to enhance their own service or product offerings. If they don’t embrace it, the technology will replace the industry.

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 almost 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. Not that parking is not cool, it has just always been the poor cousin.

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 will be the call. 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 with self driven cars before fleets of mums and dads, replace theirs.

I tend to think that the self driven car will create more traffic and congestion than we need. As the driver decides that the inner city parking fees are too expensive, they prefer to pay the price of extra fuel and send the cars home again or to a lot at the fringes of the city. This will have the affect of doubling the trips made each day and creating congestion on the way out of the city as well into the city.

Another looming battle will be the conflict between car haters and the pragmatists. The pragmatists will slowly move into their eco-cars but the car haters will still enjoy thrashing any person who owns an oil driven vehicle or an electric vehicle alike. Green cars and green parking garages will not satiate these people. This would not normally be an issue for most, but the fact that most of these people are in positions in the City or Councils and in national bodies will create a real issue between the normal traveller and the various Government bodies. I have seen the goodwill gestures of the public attending the public meetings after the earthquakes in Christchurch, proffer up suggestions on how they would like to see their city in 25 years time and the haters then turn that into such a change that the original submitters may very well say, “that’s not what I asked for!”. These issues are coming around the world.

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. Zone parking is the modern way of dividing up and managing the city’s parking resources. A zone is created around a major parking ‘load creator’ whatever it might be, university, airport or retail precinct, and the occupancies are responded to by a locally derived price. With modern parking technology, the zones can be any size or shape drafted onto a GIS platform for visual interpretation. 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. Micromanagement of parking is here but we have to wait for city officials to catch up.

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. I suspect that with the computing power of the phone and its links to the cloud, they phone will win but don’t underestimate the power of the parking equipment makers. Parking equipment makers will always want NFC as it is an add-on to their equipment, but Pay by widget can be had by the customer simply owning a phone. We currently have 7 billion people on this planet and 6 billion phones. The big budgets of the equipment makers will offer up a tantalising message but in the end, the mobile phone will win as it connects to more people.

Outside of the Pay by Phone versus NFC debate is a new intruder. I’ve watched the arrival of products such as Google Glass over the last few months and wondered how this will change what we do in parking. I have not used it but have seen it on the many Youtube videos and they like. Can Glass enable parking users? Will third-party apps be there to help do so? Will the equipment companies latch on to this technology to drive the next revolution in parking?

There is a lot of interest in Glass use by many professions that require a ‘hands free’ approach to what they are doing, but the biggest group of interested parties will be drivers. Surgeons, CEO’s, and mechanics will have access to hands-free and real-time critical information. Some of the changes we will notice may be,

• Google at your eye tips – to answer any query while you are awake.

• Instant photos – never be without your camera or be too slow to get the shot you area after again.

• Mobile calls while driving – In many countries, its illegal to drive and talk on the phone, although that doesn’t seem to stop some people.

• Google maps in an instant – never get lost again.

• Google translator for travel – Read the food labels in French or Chinese with Glass on.

• Live traffic and news feeds – figure out a way around the jam you’re in by seeking alternatives routes and see why the traffic is stopped by the live news feed.

• Google calendar – make your appointment on the run. Forget the written diary from now on.

• Contact lens makers may become redundant – You will wear glasses, so no more contacts.

• iPhones may become a thing of the past – You just don’t need them anymore.

• They will look as good as Versace … eventually

• Parking - Find your car park by the use of one of the many parking apps or link directly to the parking equipment to open the barrier gate and even pay for your parking by accessing your bank account through your Glass.

The largest unanswered question is whether apps, called Glassware, will be there to boost Glass adoption. I believe that as soon as the price starts to come down, early adopters will drive a trickle of app creation and then the pay by phone techs and others will transfer to Glass apps.

Glass will revolutionise parking technology again, in a similar way that pay by phone and self driven cars are about to.

The entry into the market of technology giants has been a major move in the last couple of years. 3M, Xerox, Morgan Stanley and Google in the future are huge names in technology and finance and are related to other, more glamorous industries. They are infiltrating the parking business and bringing with them an intelligence that can cross-pollinate into this industry that is already not fallow of good ideas, but limited in the ability to apply them and limited by a lack of vision to buy the good ideas. These guys bring size, power and brands with them. Most of these companies have strayed into parking via transport and traffic but they are now here. A side affect of this entry into the market by global giants is the assortment of ivy leaguers they bring with them.

With all of these options, there are three major challenges for all parties in parking. Firstly, the one challenge for the parking practitioner is to push the boundaries of and embrace new technology to create a solution for the customer that extends knowledge and more intensely improves parking utilization. The result being increased ROI.

A huge challenge for the parking practitioner is to get the parking methodology right, to suit the designed parking plan. Then the parking technology decisions, made after the methodologies are chosen, area an easy choice made from the point of finding equipment and technology that will suit your plan’s goals. The result is increased ROI, although this wont be from parking but from the customers activity that parking supports.

A final challenge is one for parking customers, and that is to rely on the practitioners to get the choices right, to keep up to date with changes. Not easy since most people think parking is simple, easy and still adequate with single-head meters.

Parking is now sexy. Then again, I always thought it was.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How do you deal with too much parking?

It's a conundrum facing many Cities.  How do you get 85% occupancy when
there are less than 60% of all spaces actually being used?

This is a question I ask here in Christchurch, New Zealand.  The context
is that after the earthquakes, there are now a large number of vacant
sites, awaiting developments, that are being used as car parks.  There
are 1,500 cars parking in 2,700 private off-street sites (all open-air
lots) in the CBD as no buildings are open yet.  So how do you control
parking to 85% when there aren't enough vehicles to get past 56%?

 The answer is to break the city into zones and manage the occupancies in
the zone separately, then set a wider 'working' occupancy goal of about
60% to 85%.  Don't use too narrow a 'band' around the 85% target, as
it's almost impossible to achieve at this stage where there is a lot of
vacancy.  Zone management then gives you the ability to relocate
vehicles around the city by pricing to affect the local activity level
in that local zone, for the purpose of maximising the utilisation of the
parking resource.  You may be able to offer higher prices where there is
a PT choice (by removing supply), higher prices where there is over-use
such as on the western edge of the Christchurch CBD today.  You can also
start to remove spaces for the purposes of better landscaping or other
mode changes.
Gap Filler Project - Christchurch


 We also know that we need to create and administer an operational system
that will be flexible enough, over time, to deal with the current
situation where there is too much supply; then change to a system where
the developments have occurred and we have a under-supply.

The final step if you like, is where the city is fully back to normal
and congestion is occurring and mode shift needs a bit of a boost, as
most cities require a mode shift in their transport plans these days.
To get the required mode shift, we may need to put in the plans that a
desire that public car parks are all managed to a guide of 85% but also
private car park resources (don't know how to enforce it yet) are also
managed to 85%.  That will see a large reduction in extra car parks, the
combining of car parks by neighbours and the use of car parks for other

That's the theory anyway.
Kevin Warwood

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Some Interesting Parking Stories....

Creepy crawlies ruin bridge killing 13 people

Parking by Gender? Mayor in Germany Stirs Up Controversy on Extreme Parking http;//

DC's BikeStation -- Extreme Parking series on @travelchannel

90 Central Parking Deck renovation earns award

Awesome bike parking system sucks your ride into the depths of the earth

Poor design has led to a mobility parking space being made unusable

Access to Christchurch Hospital difficult could turn into a "quagmire" if Hagely Park Cricket oval goes ahead

Lack of parking a 'major problem' at Papakura Train Station

Council Candidate Calls for Fairer Parking in Central Wellington

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Self Driving Cars Will Double Traffic.

Self Driving Cars will double the worlds CBD traffic.  These cars will be 'sent home' or to an 'out of city' parking lot meaning they will need to make 4 trips to town and back each day and not the common two we do now.

Audi Piloted Parking

For the full story read it here

Friday, June 7, 2013

TDM Will Double Traffic Congestion in the Future

TDM will double the traffic into town in the future…. That’s not the affect its supposed to have?

Most of my ‘parking’ working life has been primarily about trying to optimise the parking operation by getting as many people into a well run and attractive facility, as possible.  The single aim has been to achieve a high occupancy with the tipping point of too many customers demanding spaces because the facility’s promotion and operations are too successful.  Then I can put the prices up and start all over again.

Transport Demand Management just passes on poor Road Corridor Management to Parking

Imagine how surprised I was when I started to work in a city environment, not just about parking operations anymore, but being surrounded by Traffic Engineers and Transport Planners who spoke about using parking as a transport demand management tool.  To the lay person, this means artificially fiddling with the price at a facility to discourage customers, to consequently force them to take the bus, train, bicycle or suffer the fake prices.

In Wikipedia, Transportation demand management, traffic demand management or travel demand management (all TDM) is the application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand (specifically that of single-occupancy private vehicles), or to redistribute this demand in space or in time.  I get this.  I really do.  This should be about encouraging a different method of travel through enticements, attractiveness of the product and lifestyle or even competing values, not about hitting people over the head with the blunt mallet of price for parking.

This is an issue that should be solved in other areas, such as road corridor operations or in public transport operations, not parking operations.  It feels very much like the upstream road corridor, PT design and traffic operations have not been done well and the result is to pass it on to parking operations to clean up!  I suggest the answer is sharpening up the up-stream issues first and solving the problems there, rather than have it passed onto someone, somewhere else to resolve.  This is designing a system to run inefficiently on purpose!

The benefits of having a city parking operation that runs efficiently are to have facilities run for the benefit of the customer, the equipment and facility’s capital (tax dollars) are spent well and not wasted and run inefficiently, technology is then allowed to deliver a service that is tailored to the needs of the remaining customers and competition will produce a better service to the city.  The cons of having an inefficiently run parking operation are plain to see, poor service, spiralling costs and a black hole where increasing amounts of money disappears into and the whole is worth less.

Self Drive cars will double the Traffic Congestion

In the coming modern world, the time, distance and place (TDP) road pricing methodology, where road users are charged based on when, where and how much they drive is a better way of controlling the travel demand.  Why?  Because the BMW’s and the Audi’s of the word are quickly moving to a system of auto-drive vehicles that can drive into town, drop the passenger off at work and then drive out to a fringe parking lot or back home again, not using the inner city car park with its artificially inflated prices.  These new vehicles will make four trips into and out of the city each day, in effect doubling the traffic in the city from what we have now.  This is not the affect TDM is supposed to have. 

Congestion charging or tolls on roads will be better suited to solving the travel demand issues, not parking.

Kevin Warwood
Parking Operations Designer

These views are my own.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

$300k Damage by Cars Parked on Berm.

Streets in Tauranga CBD are lined with cars parked on the roadside and on grass berms on weekdays as motorists try to avoid parking fees.  Damage up at $300k 

Read More Here

These veiws are my own.

Palmerston North Parking report delayed

Recommended changes to Palmerston North's parking system will not be released until next month.
A working party set up late last year to consider complaints by a deputation to the Palmerston North City Council was expected to report to the finance and performance committee yesterday, but the item was deferred.

Council strategic communications manager Daniel O'Regan said the working party had arrived at some possible recommendations.

"However, it is too premature to release those recommendations until potential ramifications have been investigated," Mr O'Regan said.

To recap, this is a Council that had issues with the accuracy of a parking sensor installation (it is too accurate for the current parking operation) because they installed the sensors purely to enforce the existing restrictions and not to build on this world class technology to improve the service to the Palmerston North customer at all.

Secondly, as I recall, the 'working party' set up to review the parking enforcement related issues, did not have a single parking professional in its midst.  It should be very interesting to see what this group come out with as a group of recommendations, considering the limitations they have foist on themselves.

These views are my own.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Parking Space on a Par with the Skills of the Surgeon....SERIOUSLY!

Researcher Colin Howie, a senior orthopaedic consultant at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said there was evidence from parts of the NHS in the UK that factors such as food and parking were as important to patients as the operation.

“The clinical skills of the surgeon were on a par with a parking space,” he said.

Mr Howie said the NHS had to change its focus on how it was dealing with patients if it wanted to improve its satisfaction levels.

The study focused on more than 4,700 joint replacement surgery patients. Mr Howie said: “About a third of patients’ satisfaction comes from Doctor’s technical abilities, about a third comes from the Doctor telling them [patients] what’s going to happen and just under a third comes from the patients’ experience of the healthcare.

There is no doubt that the study is controversial and a blow to the egos of many in the healthcare industry. A response to the article in The Scotsman shows that. Harry Abbott writes, “Indeed, indeed...I see parking bays to replace operating theatres, spaces dedicated for appendicitis, others for replacement knees and hips, etc. ...all having, instead of anaesthetics, pay as you listen readings from today's news in the Scotsman. It'll be a sure and certain money spinner, and the savings on salaries of medical staff? Big figures, big figures.........

The problem is that many in the industry just don’t understand that the appointment starts from the time the patient drives onto the grounds, not the time they walk through the doctor’s clinic door. Patient or customer grooming has to be a major concern of hospitals and the best place to do that is in the car park.

I suspect there will be many people who will be up in arms about the validity of the survey or some such other reason to debunk the results, so as to keep the status quo. I applaud the survey but if nothing changes, then we know the reasons for having hospitals is not to provide care but to provide work for Doctors. As more than a couple of Doctors have told me in the past, if we didn’t have Hospitals, we wouldn’t have patients…. No seriously!

Kevin Warwood

These views are my own.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


“So that’s four 18 foot 2 x4’s, those 4 gates hinges and the box of nail-gun nails, right?” the teller at the local handy man shop asked. 
“That’s it’, I replied. 
“Got a big DIY job on have you?  Spending the weekend on the end of a hammer?” he said making a hammering motion with his hand. 
“Putting up a fence. Thought I might give it a go myself first …… before my wife calls a professional in.  How hard can it be?” I questioned. 
He looked at me and you could see the eyes rolling.  “Friend, ….. we get them all in here.  Everyone wants to give it a go first before they return with burnt fingers and a lesson learnt.  Ya know just over 80% of people try to do these projects themselves and they end up with simple injuries like falling off ladders or cutting fingers off.  Quarter million people fall off ladders you know? Nearly half of those people end up getting some kind of remedial building work being done after they stuff it up”.  He leaned forward and looked at me straight in the eyes.  “I want to sell you those materials” he said pointing at the timber, “but anything more serious than a fence, you should get a pro to do it”. 
He turned back and started punching the keys on the register, “look after yourself” he said without looking at me. 

I got the job done.  I didn’t want to tell him the reason I got the nail gun was because I tried to do the job with a hammer and had given myself tennis elbow.  So if I wasn’t going to use a builder to do a simple fence, then why would I expect a car park owner to seek professional help as well?

Read the Article in 'Parking Today' Here ........

These thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New 'Work in Parking Worldwide' Group created.


A new group has been created on the Linkedin platform.  It's called Work in Parking Worldwide.

The aim of the group is to provide a place where all of those people interested in working in parking or those who have parking related vacancies, can put these posts up in one place. 

Parking is a specialised field and it needs to have a place of its own for specialists to go and for those who are not specialists to review the current trends and vacancies in parking related employment.

Kevin Warwood

Check out the Work in Parking Worldwide Group Here

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lord Kelvin said ...........

Lord Kelvin said, "If you can not measure it, you can not improve it."  I must congratulate the New Plymouth City Council for taking a pragmatic approach to parking in the city and not falling into the trap of putting plasters on the symptoms.  Measure what you have happening first, then make some changes.

New Plymouth City Council has a simple parking operation that is combined with the enforcement wing of the activity.  Some cities have strayed into the area of thinking their parking operation, is the enforcement wing.  Not so.  The parking operation comes first (however it has been designed or not!), then the enforcement of the parking operation must occur.  Enforcement supports operations.

So it is important to understand exactly what is going on out there by monitoring the signals form on-street, off-street, public, private and institutional parking.  In this case, it seems that the time restriction may in fact prove to be too short to suit the businesses in that neighbourhood, but they wouldn’t have known that if they hadn’t taken time to collect the data correct and then see what the flavour of the feedback from the public looked like, to the enforcement of the old rules.  Bear in mind, this is just technology making the existing rules more accurate.

With the sensor technology, they can now review the average length of stay and the turnover of customers.  This will start to build a picture, in each neighbourhood, of the requirements of each business area or precinct, and that may be to amend the current time restrictions.  Remember the purpose of parking is primarily to support and facilitate economic activity and growth.  This means that access to the city for retail, leisure, well-being and commercial activities, must be optimised, or just the right amount of cars in just the right amount of spaces.

One method of doing this is to divide the city into zones large enough to affect the main parking load or driver in the area, and then create parking time restrictions (or prices) that will suit and be synchronous with the activities in the area.  What may happen is that the retailers will want longer time restrictions until they get to the point where the volume of customers falls through a lack of turnover in the car parks, then they will want the time restrictions smaller until their customers can’t stay long enough to make big purchases.  It’s a balancing act the Council is trying to achieve, but with the collection of accurate data, they will be able to start somewhere and then move in the right direction.

New Plymouth City Council will get a bit of stick as they go through the process of collecting the data and then making the improvements that will ensure the local businesses will be supported, but the improvements will help support the activities of the local area.  To close with a pun, Lord Kelvin would be interested in the work being done to measure the temperature of car park use here.

Kevin Warwood

These views are my own.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Parking Operations Design - A Lesson

I had an interesting email conversation with a General Manager (names removed of course) of a major parking equipment provider the other day. It started out as a discussion on the article about supply and demand economics, or actually the theory of Constraints, and how to get to 100% occupancy. The discussion ended up with a summary of how I see the purpose of parking and how the purpose of parking serves the city. This is a sort of step by step guide to designing a city’s parking operation. These tips will also give you the ability to micro-manage parking.
Parking operations systems can be simple. Here are some of the basics;
  • The purpose of parking is to support economic activity. An economist will argue that even a visit to a park, University or Hospital has an economic impact. Christchurch City Council's Long Term Plan has some wording around 'Community Outcomes' for parking, but in the end, they all add up to mean, at its highest level, supporting economic activity.
  • Measure what is happening on the street. On-street parking is the bellwether of all activity in the city. Its the nervous system of the body of the city. If construction or retail picks up, it will be reflected on the street. If the area becomes dead, the street will tell you. You can measure the fact that a new off-street car park opened by the data you get from the on-street machines, and then you amend your prices. Measuring what is happening on the street will tell you how to approach your pricing. You also don’t need to purchase sensors to start with. You can measure occupancy and utilization (Utilization is occupancy over a period of a day). 
  • Set up zones or precincts of the right size and shape to affect the parking load or activity in the local area, be it a mall, a university or a commercial district. Christchurch has 16 (draft) zones. Having zones that are too big creates abstract pricing. Abstract prices will support activity somewhere in the city at some stage, but will be too high in some and too low in others. Prices must be just right ... all the time. Having smaller zones allows you to micro-manage your pricing and modern technology can now help you to micro-manage parking. Zones also allow you to set zoned permanent on-street parking or residential parking in certain zones only.  
  • Link pricing to occupancy. Managing your demand to 85% occupancy, not higher or lower. This will make sure that the retailers are happy as you can't get more customers into a retailers car park than the capacity of a car park. Extra cars are just people circulating and not shopping. Retailers rarely understand this. Retail's issue is one of capacity and management of that capacity, not price. If shoppers don't come, drop the price. If they do and its overcrowded, raise the price. You still cant get more customers in than the number of car parks, so price is irrelevant other than to maintain occupancy. 
  • Enforce to support parking operations. The purpose of enforcement is to support the parking operation's designed plan. If the plan is not right, it only hinders economic activity because too many tickets are issued. One of my mantras is 'your level of parking enforcement is equal to the level of mis-understanding of your parking operation'. Enforcement also gives you some good signals that the parking operation is not right, by the number of tickets being issued or a change in the number of tickets being issued. 
  • Get the parking decisions closer to the operation. Politicians generally only know about price when they deal with parking. They don't understand the other issues that make up the price. I'm not saying they don't want to know. They are busy people. So education is best so the best decisions are based on occupancy, not price.
  If you manage to get all of this past the politicians, you will have a fully functioning, parking operation that is responsive to the many detected changes in the city's on-street activities..... and it will support economic activity. Simple. The perfect parking operation is one designed to read and respond to on-street, off-street, public, private and institutional parking signals.
Technology must fit into this plan. The decision on the type of technology to buy is the last decision made. We sometimes get our priorities back to front by purchasing equipment without understanding the design of the parking operation nor the purpose of the parking, first.
  The key understanding that must be made here is that this system will work in Hospitals, Airports, commercial structures, on-street and shopping malls. When run well, it will enhance the customer experience and not hinder it. It will ensure greater use of the car parks and manage the peaks.
The bigger key message is that we often don't design our parking operations well in the first place nor do we re-design it when it needs help.
Kevin Warwood
Parking Operations Designer
These views are my own.