Here is a short video done by Reason Magazine where parking talking head Don Shoup gives his theory. Check it out:
The BBC reports that UK train commuters are up in arms about the train companies raising parking prices at stations to - you are not going to believe this - make more profit! (gasp)
I have more than once mentioned my distaste for city councils using parking enforcement as a revenue grab, but I don't think the same rules apply to private companies. Aren't they in business to make a profit?
One BBC article states, "The RAC Foundation believes that train operators are putting up car parking charges as a sneaky way of increasing their profits." I object to the word "sneaky". They raised the prices for everyone to see. There is nothing sneaky about it. RAC's objection is that the price of train tickets are controlled and parking charges are not, so the train companies are surreptitiously using parking to make profits they are not supposed to be making. Not true. If the UK government did not want them to make a profit on parking, they would regulate that cost as well. RAC suggests parking charges should be capped as well, and that may happen some day. In the meantime, train companies like Southern Railways are free to charge parking fees based on what the market will bear.
My recommendation to the commuters is: if you don't like it, don't park your car there. You can even stop taking the train altogether. If enough people stop, the train company will get the message. But, on the other hand, if you stop parking there but everyone else keeps paying the new rate, well then the market has spoken.
This story out of the UK tells the tale. A very successful firm in Cambridge, a city of 120,000 north of London, asked for approval to turn a concrete slab in the lot next to it into a parking facility for its employees. The slab had been there since the Second World War and seemingly had no other useful purpose. They were told "no."
Seems the local greens don't want people driving into the city, and this is a way to keep them out. Yep – It seems it's going to do that, in spades.
The high tech company which makes specialized software has attempted to talk its staff into cycling but as the CEO put it:
"The council is not at all helpful when it comes to parking. We have done everything we can to encourage people to cycle, but it is so expensive to live in Cambridge that many of them have to come in by car, but the council will not do us any favours."
As reader Charles pointed out "I do not know anything about the tax structure in the UK, but I am sure that losing the expansion of a business like this is keeping a ton of tax revenue out of the General Fund ..."
I know that this little move will cost Cambridge and the UK a lot of money, not only in rates (property taxes) but also in income tax, sales tax, and the like.
Frankly, I sort of like the idea of charging for parking and allowing the market to run its course. But I'm not sure that in the face of the current economic climate, social engineering like this is the way to go.
Everyone knows that local authorities are evil money grabbing B******* who only operate parking to screw money out of the poor motorist and issue dodgy parking tickets regardless of whether or not the rules have been broken. Well not in Adur in West Sussex it would seem. The Council has realised that due to an administrative oversight the regulations for one of their car parks had never been properly made and all the charges and fines since October 2008 were invalid.
Did we have a Council representative spouting platitudes about “it didn’t really matter” and “the public got what they paid for”? No, they bagged the machines until they can get a legal order in place, they undertook to repay all the fines collected during the period and offered to refund the parking charge to anyone who could produce their parking ticket.
Now realistically not many people will have kept their old parking tickets, so that’s a good gesture, but only likely to affect those who parked there recently. But all in all well done, Adur, both for coming clean and then for not shilly-shallying about putting it right.
In a recent poll of UK drivers, The AA found that by far the most popular New Years resolution among AA members was trying to park legally more often, at 70% of respondents surveyed. At 75%, women were most anxious to dodge parking fines, compared to 68% for men.
"Too many councils are banking on extra revenue from raising parking fine levels – in London they want to charge £130," says AA President Edmund King. "They may be sorely disappointed: high fuel prices and austere times mean fewer trips to the shops and less pressure on parking spaces."
"There is no justification for increasing parking penalties as compliance at current levels has improved," he adds. "Yet many local authorities are now introducing parking charges on Sundays, extending parking charges until 10pm and hiking up the price of residents' parking permits."
The AA says councils who are banking on filling budget deficits with parking fine cash could be in for a shock. Could this reduce the production of this cash cow?
I guess we have to wait and see how many UK drivers keep their New Years resolutions.
Studies like the one mentioned in this article are great, but don't they really confirm what we already know. If parking is free, people will abuse it and if you have to pay, they are less likely to do so.
In this case, folks in New Zealand surveyed an on street parking area. In places where there is a time limit for parking (two hours free) there were few if any open spaces and local employees parked there and moved their cars every couple of hours. In areas where there was a time charge (say 50 cents an hour), this did not occur and there were a few open spaces so customers could easily find places to park.
I know it seems obvious on its face, but remember that you are dealing with local governments here. The use of logic is often wasted on elected officials. However a nice expensive study done by "experts" that can be put in a file and blamed when all hell breaks loose is much better.
I guess that makes sense. We have to keep the government money consuming machine going.
From a reader in Australia:
I enjoyed your article on "Better than parking wars". I agree with you, we are better than that.
The question of how to improve the image of the industry is a vexing question. The bulk of our industry interaction with Mr and Mrs Citizen is with our lowest skilled staff members and quite often the employees are nameless and faceless unless something goes wrong or unless the media have beaten it out of all proportion. Some of the Municipalities in Australia seem to be able to project a positive image or at the least an image of proactively. The customer interface (The moment of truth) is always the most difficult task. I wonder if empowerment is part of the answer. Surely we can give our officers the power to "make a call" on payments, citations or whatever the issue is. I recall some time back working in an area that converted to a no standing zone at 4:00PM. At 3:45 the Municipality commissioned two officers to walk the street and walk into the retail outlets and advise the retailers that they had 15 minutes to get their customers to move. The Municipality may have lost a little revenue but gee they gained fantastic goodwill and when a fine was issued, there was little complaint from the retailers.
I don't have the answer but I feel better and constant communication is part of the answer. Maybe a code of practice would assist in so much as the public could get to know how an officer and a City goes about its business. The parking wars program is like the air carrier programs we get in Australia ( and presumably you get in the States). The mayhem and absurdity that ensues when a plane is delayed or a passenger is 2 minutes late is bizarre. Then I only to get to see the extreme examples because the media are looking for a ratings story.
I agree empowerment is the key. Southwest airlines and Nordstrom's were able to build its reputation for customer service on the fact that front line managers could make decisions that other companies required 15 minutes on the phone with higher level supervisors. We had a long post on our facebook page about a parker who lost her ticket and the attendant remembered when she came in, gave her a replacement ticket and enabled her to get it validated. Saved her $5 and made her a fan for life. That post was criticized by a parking operator because it indicated that all control had been lost at that location. I think that attendant should be given a medal.
Giving the citation officers the ability to make the decision to void a ticket when someone walks up as they are writing it, or perhaps following Don Shoup's suggestion in February's "PT" and graduating parking fines so folks with one ticket get a warning and those with three pay through the nose might help more that all the PR activity and stories about toys for tickets and parking attendants taking a bullet for a parker.
How do you have a professional industry if you don't have a modicum of self-respect? Look – I'm the first guy to set myself up for a few laughs, most richly deserved. Self-deprecation is a tool used by most in the public eye to increase their public image. Fair Enough.
But I believe that the trait can be taken too far, and the ongoing series "Parking Wars" does that. I understand that the folks at the Philly Parking Authority and the series' producers think that the end result of the show is positive (it's now spread to Detroit). The enforcement staff has been quoted as saying that the attitude of Philly parkers toward them has been much more positive since the series has begun. Obviously the public likes it. It's been renewed for another season and Hollywood doesn't make series that don't sell. Heck –even the IPI promoted it at its convention last year.
It's a reality show. It's inexpensive to make and the fans eat it up. It's right up there with Survivor, The Bachelorette, Housewives of New York City, Hh Hell's Kitchen. I don't know where it falls rating wise with Survivor and Hell's Kitchen (it's not syndicated as widely as these two) but they are of the same genre. Basically reality shows depict people at their worst. They are shown making fools of themselves and the public eats it up. In our case, the "reality actors" yell and scream while the poor browbeaten enforcement staff takes the guff and come back for more. The story line is perfect. Yep – parking causes problems and there are plenty of people to react negatively to it.
We begin to feel sorry for enforcement; after all they are only doing their jobs. Parking brings out the worst in bad people. Yep – and we can see it every week just before "Losing it with Jillian." Self-deprecation is good in small doses. I can err once in a while in my column and then "eat crow." But if I did it every day, it would be a bore.
We are a professional industry. We generate billions in revenue each year. We built large building that house our product. We create millions of jobs. We deal with the public every day, day after day. Our errors cause huge political upheavals. We touch almost every aspect of daily life. We have a lot of which to be proud. Can't we somehow tell that story? Parking Wars certainly doesn't.
I remember the guy on the first tee a few years back responding to my being in the Parking Business. "Oh, yeah, parking. Isn't that the scuzzy business sort of like garbage collection?" He had us nailed. Just like Parking Wars. Our people work in a not so good part of town. They deal with life's more unsavory characters. They enforce laws that we would really rather not be enforced.
I prefer to think my industry is made up of innovators who are trying new ideas almost daily. SF Park, Pay by Cell, Credit cards on meters, Pay and Display, Pay on Foot, Parking guidance, automated parking systems, in street data collection, parking apps, LED lighting - they all work toward making parking easier for our customers.
You want "Green." Parking can give you green in spades. Whether its LEED approved structures or solar panels on the roof, it's there. What about the recent campaign to get charging stations in garages or systems to speed up parking and thus reduce pollution? The concept of market based on street pricing of parking could actually do more to reduce congestion in downtown areas than all the rules and laws considered by many city councils.
We are a good industry. We are coming of age. We are a proud group of pros who make lives easier for drivers every day.
I think we deserve better than "Parking Wars."
The UK Department of Transport has released Civil Parking Enforcement Statistics for 2009-2010 in a new report and some of the findings are noteworthy. It seems that challenging a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) – the UK parking ticket – often pays off for the motorist.
The report states, “The number of PCNs challenged in 2009/10 was 1.84 million (on-street) and 0.50 million (off-street).”
“As a result of these challenges, 0.86 million on-street PCNs were cancelled in 2009/10 … and 0.30 million off-street PCNs were cancelled …”
This means that almost half of the on-street PCNs and more than half of the off-street offences were cancelled!
These stats may support the accusations regularly raised in the UK media about questionable parking enforcement practices, addressed in a recent Parking World article by our UK parking expert Peter Guest.
AA president Edmund King is quoted in the Mirror saying, “While we welcome the fact that almost half of the drivers who appealed against unfair parking tickets won their cases, we must question why so many of these drivers were given tickets in the first place."
Can any car park ever be "green"? Lloyd Alter, a Toronto architect and professor, has written an interesting article in Treehugger posing this question. The title says it all: LEED or Not, Parking Garages Are Not Green.
I know what you are thinking, Treehugger is never going to be pro-car park, but the argument stands. He says, "Can a parking garage ever be green? Hardly; when you build more parking, you get more cars; If you want people to get rid of cars, get rid of parking spaces. Make it tougher to park."
Even if this logic is correct, unless we are planning on eliminating cars off the planet entirely, it doesn't make much sense to attack parking garages that strive for LEED certification. These are some of the most progressive car park facilities in the world. They are making an attempt to be sustainable, and they are taking the lead that should be followed by others in the global industry.
Reducing available parking, especially in congested urban areas, is a legitimate approach that progressive cities are moving toward. But I don't think this means car parks should not strive to follow the LEED guidelines, or make any other attempts to be sustainable. Both approaches can go hand-in-hand as part of an overall "green" strategy.
So, to the LEED-certified parking facilities, I applaud your efforts.