The Auto Bailout and the Parking Industry

Dave Feehan

One of the pleasures of living in Washington, D.C., is being invited to events at the Brookings Institution, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wilson Center, and other thought centers. I recently attended a series of panel presentations entitled, “Recovery Road? An Assessment of the Auto Bailout and the State of U.S. Manufacturing.” Featured speakers were Larry Summers, former National Economic Council director; Steven Rattner, who handled the government’s side of the auto bailout; and Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of Fiat/Chrysler.

Summer was his usual self; Rattner was earnest and thoughtful. If you haven’t seen Marchionne in an interview, I heartily recommend going on the Brookings website or watching a recent interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” He is a remarkably forthright but humorous fellow.

What does this have to do with parking? There was virtual consensus among all eight presenters and four moderators that had the federal government not stepped in to bail out automakers, a tragic disaster would certainly have occurred. As many as 2.6 million jobs would have been lost in the first year after General Motors and Chrysler collapsed. Ford would have been virtually out of business as the supply chain also imploded. Another million-plus jobs would probably have been lost in the second year. With the credit markets frozen, no one was in a position to pick up the pieces.

The best analysis shows that the bailout cost the U.S. government and taxpayers about $12.6 billion dollars, but saved us from at least $100 billion in lost taxes, higher unemployment costs, and other expenses. The effects on the manufacturing, mining, energy, health, and retail sectors would have been significant.

Imagine for a minute if the unemployment rate soared to perhaps 15 percent instead of 10. Imagine all the people who would not being buying cars and driving to work. Imagine the lost revenue parking systems would suffer if millions out of work were not shopping, working, and using parking facilities.

When we think back to those perilous times just a few years ago, we often think of the bank bailout and the auto bailout and grit our teeth. Did the people in charge at the time make all the right decisions? Certainly not. But had they not saved the auto industry, there would have been real pain in the parking industry as well.

The Rebel Goes Sustainable: Harley-Davidson Unveils Electric Bike

KimFernandezJan2014

Sustainability, meet James Dean. Believe it or not, Harley-Davidson just unveiled its first electric bike. And from all appearances, it is sweet.

Photo credit: Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson

I was the girl swooning over the flat-black Harley parked just inside the entrance of the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo earlier this month. There’s a four-wheel-drive familymobile parked in my driveway for now, but my inner daredevil has always loved open air and speed. Roller coasters, Waverunners, two-seater airplanes–bring it. My husband pulling a 200cc Vespa into our garage two years ago was more than I could stand, and a few months, one class, 10 hours on a Honda Rebel in brutal D.C. heat and humidity, and one test later, I happily stood in line at the MVA to add an M-class endorsement to my driver’s license (earning, I might add, serious cool-mom points for a little while).

Honda and BMW make some gorgeous, very refined bikes, but Harley has remained the gold standard of American two-wheeled muscle. An electric motorcycle with their badge was sure to raise eyebrows, and it has–everybody from car gurus to tech wizards is talking about it.

Harley officials say Project LiveWire is a “customer-led moment” in its history. In other words, even their customers want to go a little greener. But make no mistake–this bike is edgy, launching with a 30-dealership tour along Route 66 and promising “a visceral riding experience with tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakeable new sound” officials compare to a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. The Los Angeles Times, which tested the bike ahead of its launch this week, called it a “fired up, amped-up monster.” Their test saw it go from zero to 60 in less than four seconds before it topped out at 92 mph. Not too shabby for an EV. The flip side, of course, is range: newspaper testers said it’ll go about 30 miles on a single charge (three and a half hours) in high-performance mode, and about 53 miles in power-saving mode. Harley says that range will improve before the LiveWire goes on sale to consumers in about two years.

Will it attract traditional Harley riders? Only time will tell. But is it a smart move for Harley-Davidson given the wishes of the next driving generation? Absolutely. Looks like we’ll need charging stations for flashy, crazy-fast, rebel bikes before too long. Who saw that coming? (And how do I get on the test-drive list?)

Demand-Based Parking for Universities: From the Municipal Playbook

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

Many universities struggle to meet parking demand as they grow in size and enrollment. A technique that is commonly used in municipal parking is to base parking on demand and set prices in a manner that provides price and convenience choice. Sometimes referred to as demand-based or tiered parking pricing, this market-informed strategy can help universities and community colleges achieve financial and sustainability goals while maximizing the amount of people accessing campuses each day. There are nuances and variations on the theme based on the special needs of specific campuses, but in essence, the approach allocates parking prices based on demonstrated demand. Facilities with the highest demonstrated demand have the highest value and therefore the highest cost, and those with relatively low demand command a lower price.

A significant benefit of tiered parking is that it offers parkers price and convenience choice–something we all appreciate as consumers. Demand-based parking can encourage commuters to use alternatives to driving by assigning a meaningful cost to different parking options. Additionally, the approach can help redistribute parking demand. A less convenient parking lot may become more desirable if its cost is lower than one with higher demand.

Moving from less sophisticated systems to a demand-based approach can be met with resistance from the campus community if it isn’t implemented in a thoughtful way. Ask yourself:

  1. Does the institution have the political will to make a significant change in your parking program? If university leadership won’t see the process to fruition, it may not be time for you to pursue something this weighty.
  2. Do you know parking occupancy by facility and by day of week/hour of day? To begin dividing up lots into different pricing groups, you must understand current and anticipated occupancy levels inside and out.
  3. What’s happening and likely to happen just outside of campus with demand-based parking? If neighborhoods adjacent to your campus have no parking management strategies in place, it is likely that any major changes on campus will simply displace parking into the neighborhoods on your borders, potentially causing town/gown problems.
  4. Do you offer good alternatives to driving? When you change how permits are allocated, you’ll cause some parkers to rethink how they reach campus. There may be great resistance if you don’t have viable alternatives, such as transit, carpool, and biking.

There are many details to work out when implementing demand-based parking, but more universities will need to consider this approach as they grow and exceed the capabilities of old permit allocation systems. Those that make the move will improve customer satisfaction, and they will enjoy more financially secure parking programs that are more efficiently used while helping their campuses meet sustainability goals.

Ray LaHood Knows Parking

Shawn Conrad

“America is one big pothole right now.” This line came from former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, in an interview Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 4.59.20 PMfeatured in the June issue of The Parking Professional.

Before interviewing Secretary LaHood, magazine editor Kim Fernandez knew he has a passion for fixing/repairing America’s infrastructure woes, but what she pleasantly discovered is that he also knows parking!

For 15 years, LaHood served on the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a standing committee tasked with looking after U.S. highways, bridges, rivers, public buildings, emergency management, and economic development. It was there that he learned how vital America’s transportation system is to keeping the economy growing, and committed himself to securing transportation infrastructure that remains strong and safe.

In a recent nationwide survey of local government officials conducted by IPI with American City and County magazine, IPI learned there is a disconnect in what many government officials know about the innovations and technology available in the parking industry. Happily, Secretary LaHood proves an exception to that rule. If you haven’t read the June article about Ray LaHood, please do so; you’ll enjoy his perspective.

To entice you to to pick up the the current issue of The Parking Professional, which features LaHood on the cover, I will leave you with four quotes. Enjoy:

“Transportation and parking are interrelated, and the government should help to mitigate congestion by encouraging further innovation by these private enterprises.”

“By increasing availability of parking options near busy destinations, we can help slow the sprawl of congestion. It is necessary and forward-looking to integrate parking policy and transportation policy in urban planning projects.”

“Infrastructure investment is intricately linked to quality of life for these reasons; infrastructure and economic growth go hand-in-hand.”

“One of the most important reasons for investing in American infrastructure is ensuring that the United States remains an economically competitive and viable global leader.”

Parking Centers in Texas

KimFernandezJan2014

The second day of the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo saw thousands of parking professionals converge on the Gaylord Texan Resort for the opening of the biggest parking expo in the world, keynote addresses, an awards presentation, and a full schedule of education sessions and events.

The day kicked off with the presentation of this year’s Professional Recognition Program awards, which recognize the industry’s top individual professionals and programs. As always, it was a rousing and touching ceremony–this year’s included a farewell to IPI Board member Mike Swartz, who is retiring after 17 years on the board.
Next up were introductions of the Green Garage Certification Program, which has already become the “LEED of parking,” and proved quite popular in the industry, and a keynote address about changes being considered to the U.S. coin supply. Finally was an energetic and informational keynote from Marina Leight of Governing magazine about interconnectedness and the future of cities.
Following the morning presentation was the ribbon cutting and official opening of this year’s Expo, with 230 exhibitors and four football fields’ worth of show space. Aisles were crowded with suppliers and attendees, and the crowds repeated for a reception on the floor last night.
Education sessions, including the popular Ignite sessions, were also popular, with several having standing room only–it’s a great year to become a better educated parking professional. Look for a complete IPI Conference & Expo wrap-up in the August issue of The Parking Professional.
On today’s agenda are IPI’s Awards of Excellence and a keynote address, “Auto Erotica: Rear View and Road Ahead,” another chance to visit the Expo, and more education sessions and networking. See you at the conference!

IPI Conference & Expo Kicks Off

KimFernandezJan2014
With formal and social gatherings of parking professionals from around the world, a municipal symposium, popular education sessions, and a little jeans and bling, the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo kicked off in grand style at the Gaylord Texan Resort.
First on yesterday’s agenda was a meeting of GPALS–the Global Parking Association Leaders Summit–where representatives of nearly a dozen parking associations from all over the globe pulled chairs up to the table to talk about trends in their countries, parking research, sustainability, promoting the industry, and the best ways to share information.
Following that was the first Municipal Symposium: Real Solutions for Real Cities. Speakers, including Bill Wolpin, American City & County magazine; Marina Leight, Governing magazine; Laurens Eckelboom, Parkmobile; David Cummins, Xerox State & Local Solutions; and a panel of municipal parking directors and experts shared their expertise and experiences in a lively discussion with multiple takeaways participants can take home and put to work. Also here was the release of a joint survey of government officials from cities, towns, and counties across the U.S. about municipal parking–download it here.
The first day of education sessions proved popular as attendees flocked to the tracked seminars and panel discussions. And last

Representatives of nearly a dozen parking associations from around the globe gathered at yesterday's GPALS meeting.

Representatives of nearly a dozen parking associations from around the globe gathered at yesterday’s GPALS meeting.

night’s Denim and Diamonds Meet and Mingle event at the Glass Cactus nightclub saw attendees boot scootin’ on the dance floor and enjoying the company of new and old friends from all over the world.

Today promises to bring even more excitement, with the Welcome Breakfast, Professional Recognition Awards, and double-header keynote, opening of the massive Expo hall, and another afternoon of education sessions. It’s a great day for parking to be in Texas!

Getting Ready For The Big D

Bill Smith

Many of you are preparing for your annual trek to the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo. In just a few days, you’ll be in Texas, reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, checking out the latest products, and engaging in professional development through presentations on the latest trends and best practices.

As someone who specializes in parking and marketing, this is a particularly exciting event. In addition to the usual presentations on parking-related topics, this year will also feature the inaugural presentation of the IPI Parking Matters® Marketing and Communications Awards at the Tuesday morning general session from 8 to 9:30 a.m.. In addition to recognizing excellence in marketing, they also provide an opportunity to share marketing best practices with other parking organizations, demonstrating what works and how organizations have used these best practices to promote not only themselves, but the industry as a whole.

Parking professionals know how their work affects people’s lives every day. Through IPI’s Parking Matters® program and through the marketing programs of individual organizations, the industry has done a terrific job of educating the public about the importance of parking to their lives and exciting new parking developments and trends. But there is still much work to be done when it comes to promoting parking.

It is incumbent upon us to market ourselves, our organizations, and the industry. The IPI Conference & Expo presents a wonderful opportunity for parking professionals to demonstrate their marketing achievements and share ideas and experiences.

As you attend presentations to learn about new tools, management approaches, and trends, think about where communication fits into the lessons you are learning. If you return home with an idea for a new parking initiative for your hometown, think about how you will communicate that initiative to local leaders and citizens. If you decide to implement a new technology that you find at the symposium, plan for how you will educate parkers about the benefits of that technology. If you learn a new management approach, think about how you will educate management and staff about that approach, how it will work, and how it will benefit the organization.

We live in a communication age, and the importance of strategic communication touches on everything we do. So as you attend presentations in Dallas and share ideas with colleagues, think about where communication fits into what you are learning and which communication strategies will be most effective in sharing what you have learned when you return home.

Bill Smith’s presentation, Marketing Matters: Why Your Marketing Is Coming Up Short And How To Fix It will be offered on Tuesday, June 3.

Airport Redevelopment: The Effect on Parking

Bruce Barclay

Construction projects can be challenging for parking operations in all segments of the industry. The rerouting of existing and/or construction of new roadways, building of new terminal space, construction of rental car facilities, and of course, building new parking facilities can all have an effect on airport parking operations.

Salt Lake City International Airport’s Terminal Redevelopment Program will contain all of the above projects, plus a few more. Commencing in June 2014, SLC will begin a $1.8 billion project that will last more than five years. The challenges our parking operations will face during that time are not unique to SLC; many airports (universities, municipalities, and medical center campuses) will encounter them throughout various phases of construction. They include:

  • Planning: Airport master plans outline short, medium, and long-term development plans to meet future aviation demand. Looking into the crystal ball by way of aviation demand forecasts is helpful, but  events can change that demand, (think September 11, 2001, and the recession of 2008-2009). How many garage levels and spaces are optimal for now and into the future?
  • Facility design: The need to rightsize the design for present and future needs is critical. The old “Field of Dreams” adage of “If you build it, they will come,” may not hold true.
  • Marketing: Replacing obsolete facilities will necessitate educating the traveling public on the benefits of redevelopment. Community outreach and partnerships will help get the word out. An open-house format is effective in engaging the public and soliciting their opinions.
  • Construction: How will customers react to reconfiguration of traffic routing and shuttle routes?
  • Maintaining customer service levels: How can you maintain the high service standards you have in place while construction is ongoing?
  • Market share: How can you maintain market share and prevent leakage to off-airport competition?

The above are only a few of the challenges faced during a lengthy construction project. Each of these may ebb and flow as work continues. It is imperative that parking professionals stay involved in as many aspects of the construction process as we can. Ultimately, our operations will be affected; if we are not prepared, the consequences can be severe.

Celebrate: Bikes in Parking Lots

Look for lots of bicycle commuters today–it’s Bike to Work Day (BTWD). This annual special event is part of National Bike Month, which was started by the League of American Bicyclists (http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth) in 1956 and is observed each May.

BTWD is celebrated in many areas with special events designed to get commuters more aware of and comfortable with pedaling as a viable alternative to driving. For many local commuter assistance and mobility management programs, BTWD also serves as a great opportunity to recognize local leaders who have been (or could be) champions of bicycle commuting and hold public conversations about bike lanes, safety, and related issues.

Bikes play an increasingly visible and important role in today’s mobility mix. You might notice your bike parking facilities being much more heavily used on BTWD, particularly by folks who are trying cycling as a commute mode for the first time. After what was an unusually harsh winter for much of the U.S., would-be bicycle commuters might also use BTWD as a chance to team up with other cyclists, celebrate spring, and enjoy a change of pace.

This day presents an opportunity to engage with a niche audience that will use the quality of its BTWD experience as the basis for deciding whether biking to work is just a nice springtime event or the beginning of a realistic, long-term change in personal commute habits.

The Watergate Garage

Isaiah Mouw

I just finished reading All the President’s Men by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The classic Mouw_Blogbook chronicles the investigative reporting of the Watergate burglary and the ensuing scandal of the Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up which eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Gene Roberts called the work of Bernstein and Woodward “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.” Robert Redford produced and starred in the film of the same name, and the authors introduced the world to one of the most infamous parking garages in the world.

Woodward secretly met with an anonymous FBI source nicknamed “Deep Throat” in the Rosslyn Garage in Arlington, Va., to get secret information on the Watergate scandal. The book validates the fact that parking garages can be extremely creepy, as the two chose to meet in a dark corner of a secluded garage in the middle of the night with odd sounds and sporadic noises freaky enough to frighten the likes of Stephen King. Reading it makes me wonder how easily such a meeting could happen today with the progressive security measures and technological advancements the parking industry has embraced in recent years.

Could Deep Throat and Woodward meet today in the bottom level of a parking garage without being captured on camera? Could they even get into a restricted access facility that requires credentials? Would sensors cause smart lights to turn on as they walk throughout the garage alerting management of activity in the bottom of the garage? Would the design of the garage have incorporated Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles that would make it harder to meet out of view of passers by? Would a roaming security guard ask them their business in the garage?

There are many garages where it’s still possible to hold secret secluded meetings, but it’s fun to think about the many garages that, thanks to technology and security upgrades, Woodward and Deep Throat  would have to pass by. Today, I think they’d have to meet in a park instead of a parking garage.