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.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting perspective Kevin, As a government parking manager I agree with you in part. Transport systems have been allowed to develop without appropriate planning and with an over dependance on private automobiles.
    I don't agree that managing parking should be excluded from transport management strategies. Parking supply, as a key element for controlling demand for private vehicle, use is an integral part of any communites transportation system. Where private vehicle use is a suitable part of the communites transport network then efficient and convenient parking is also part of a vibrant community. Where there's an identified strategic need to support community sustainability by pushing mode shift to alternatives, then parking is a key element in making that shift.