Once Upon a Time in Washington, D.C.

Mark Wright

Sales guru Dan Pink describes what he calls a Pixar Pitch: a six-step formula based on one of former Pixar story artist Emma Coats’ 22 storytelling rules:

  • Once upon a time.
  • Every day.
  • One day.
  • Because of that.
  • Because of that.
  • Until finally.

In his book, To Sell Is Human, Pink says this is one of six sales pitch types he finds highly effective for anyone with the task of persuading others. The formula sounds simple. But, like many seemingly simple concepts, it’s easier to grasp than execute.

How might we try it out in a parking and transportation context? Here—tell me if this works:

Once upon a time, parking and transportation professionals found themselves at a turning point.

Every day, changes and challenges emerged that made organizations seek new knowledge, new resources, and new insights that would give them an edge.

One day, an association called ACT (which is managed by another association called IPI) offered an event in Washington, D.C., called the Public Policy Summit and Education Forum, scheduled for Mar. 23-25. (Plot twist: The Hamilton Crowne Plaza hotel block closes today!)

Because of that, these parking and transportation professionals could understand how to find funding and solve problems by engaging with various levels of government.

Because of that, even attendees whose job responsibilities didn’t directly include “government relations” or “public policy” gained in wisdom, skill, and ability.

Until finally, those changes and challenges looked less like scary dragons and more like opportunities for newly savvy organizations.

Welcome to the Sharing Nation

Wanda Brown

“OMG! What the heck?” That was all I could say after reading the Time magazine article, “Strangers Crashed my Car, Ate my Food and Wore My Jeans: Tales From the Sharing Economy,” by Joel Stein. Opening your private home to strangers for a $35 meal or renting your personal vehicle to someone you’ve never met before was more than I could grasp. How did such a seemingly dangerous act become so popular? Why is this new shift from acquisition to rental in such demand? After making a number of inquiries of individuals between the ages of 25 and 35, I discovered it was more about accessing services than owning them.

Services such as Airbnb, which provides rental of housing; Vinted, which provides clothing rental; and Uber which provides taxi services, are among the popular services in the sharing economy. As I continued to read the article, I noticed that there were apps that dealt with parking, too. Rental of driveways or parking in someone’s public parking spot were common ways I was quite familiar with, but the services that allowed a driver to reserve and pay for parking before he or she reached their destination truly opened my eyes to how this next generation of commuters were thinking. The ease of getting what you want when you want it was the catalyst for such demand. How creative it is and what out-of-the-box thinking to maximize the use of possessions and plug in the social connection with it. Wake up, Boomers!

Services provided by Uber and Lyft offered the convenience of taxi-like services and provide even greater ease in moving from point “A” to “B” without the stress of driving. These two options were invading the monopolies that cab drivers once enjoyed—sort of like what the Internet did to map sales or the encyclopedia industry.

The sharing economy is more about getting the most value out of what others own as well as enhancing the experience of using it. I conveyed this information to my daughter who I assumed would also find it absurd, only to find out that she was accessing such a service to take her to the airport the very next day. I spoke with one of my administrative staffers who also confirmed that it is more about the social and convenience aspect of what these services offer.

I must admit, that while these services would never persuade me to cease using my car, it is clear that there is a creative shift of social sharing that is pushing the envelope of how we look at the future of parking as an industry. I think it is sustainable and environmentally-friendly; it also offers key indicators as to what the future of parking will look like when the next generation of parking professionals takes over. I guess the old cliché, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” has been replaced with, “I will take the experience of your toys to a whole new level.”

A New Spin on Shared Parking

Brett Wood

The planning side of our industry has actively promoted the concept of shared parking for more than 20 years now. The idea basically states that two or more land uses can share a parking space because their peak utilization patterns will allow for variations in demand. Basically, I need the parking space in the morning, you need it in the afternoon, so let’s build one space and save $20,000. The concept has been wildly successful at mixed use developments and shopping centers, helping right-size parking supply and save precious land.

The concept has and will continue to evolve over time, allowing for better use of limited space. But new trends in our ever-changing world may change the way we define shared parking. In one of my recent posts, I discussed the trends that were changing the transportation and parking industry. One of the defining trends is the idea of shared resources, including ridesharing, carsharing, and bike sharing. All of these trends are well documented, with high-profile providers like Uber, Car 2 Go, and CitiBike making headlines across the country.

What’s not as highly documented is the idea of parking sharing. While the concept isn’t new, it certainly doesn’t get the headlines that Uber does. A coworker of mine in Atlanta recently got a SpotShare app and says it has completely changed the dynamic of how parking is utilized in his residential tower. The app allows residents to donate their spaces when not used, or request spaces for guest parking. What was once a challenging exercise is now an easily managed system. While currently reserved for resident and guest parking, the system has the potential to unlock unused spaces throughout a parking system.

Another example is occurring on the west coast of the U.S., with the Luxe Valet app, which allows motorists to request an on-demand valet (similar in concept to Uber, but for parking your car). The app works by allowing a motorist to request a valet near his or her destination. A meeting space is arranged and the driver arrives, gives the key to the valet, and the car is whisked away to a local facility with pre-arranged parking agreements in place. The motorist is no longer looking for visible public spaces because the valet company has linked them to previously underutilized private space.

Both of these concepts get at the true meaning of shared parking, which is providing parking for destinations without requiring an overabundance of parking assets to support their use. Traditionally, parking was shared among property or business owners as a resource for their customers. However, these trends are shifting the shared parking decision to the user and unlocking a whole new set of possibilities within the parking industry. It may not be too much longer before we can achieve a vision of a fully shared parking systems that doesn’t carry a designation as public or private, just parking.

Big Wows This Summer


One day, years ago before I started working at IPI, I was walking through the hallways of my office and heard the facilities director emphatically and loudly tell the director of HR, “Your department cannot hire any more people. We have no more parking spaces left.”

I remember thinking, “That’s weird, that lot is huge. Who knew we had to count parking spaces?” Yes, I am showing how ignorant I once was to the parking profession. But honestly, I had no idea the immense impacts parking has on, well, everything.  As a direct result of that hallway conversation between those two directors, my former employer started a telecommuting program.  Parking was the catalyst that drove the future culture of that organization—it drove the start of telecommuting for employees.  Parking changed that organization.

Now, this may be blasphemy, but until I started working for IPI, I had no idea of the depths, reaches, and intricacies of the parking industry. As I am working within this vast industry, I have become more and more involved and excited with all that it has to offer.  The wide reach of parking is reflected throughout the IPI Conference & Expo.

I am completely excited about the upcoming IPI Conference in Las Vegas! Our conference this year will offer everyone a WOW! This year’s education will offer a wide spectrum of learning and development opportunities to suit everyone’s needs.  For the first time, we will offer Learning Units (LU) to architects and Professional Development Hours (PDH) to engineers.  We will also provide American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Examiners of Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES) credits as well as Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for select courses and sessions.

Join us and register for Conference.  Participate in all the education sessions, wrap-up sessions, roundtable discussions and/or choose between the four-day Parking Operations and Management Immersion course or the five-day University of Virginia Management course.  Both of these multi-day courses offer CEUs and will satisfy points towards the CAPP application or recertification.

Join us during this exciting time at Conference and experience the WOW effect for yourself!

Employee Retention: Task or Duty?

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

A close friend of mine quit his job yesterday after three years of frustration, unhappiness, and anxiety. This was brought on by a culture of poor leadership and supervision, where his boss and others often took credit for his hard work. When he gave his notice, his boss could only say, “I feel like I failed you.” This was certainly true but his boss had also failed the organization by not beginning the retention effort of this highly capable employee on day one.

You see, my friend has the strongest work ethic of any person I know, he is a team player to the core, and he never really cared about his official job duties—he just did whatever needed to be done. The organization clearly recognized that it had under-appreciated and under-valued my friend but it was too late by the time he’d had enough. Indispensable is not a term you should use to refer to any employee but he was close. Contrast this to my own experience.

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail invite from the person to whom I report. It was titled “Task Update,” which could have meant several things. I hadn’t dropped any balls or missed any assignments so I wasn’t altogether sure what we’d be talking about. Would my job be changing, was his changing, or could it be something else?

The time for the call came and after he asked about my family (which he always does) and if I was traveling too much (again, a standard question from him), he got down to the main purpose of the call. He asked me if there was anything I needed from him. This seemingly simple question speaks volumes about how he views his duty to our organization. His primary function is to make certain his reports have the tools they need to succeed and if there are barriers to accomplishing our mission. Despite the title of his calendar invite, taking care of his people isn’t a task to be put off—it’s central to our success.

My friend will start a new job in a few weeks and his new organization already appears to be the kind like mine, where employees feel appreciated and supported. Good employees will get away if they aren’t valued and appreciated, but caring and supportive supervision and leadership will ensure that quality employees remain a part of your organization’s success. Consider this before your best talent moves on.

“Sleep Later, Grow Now”

Bonnie Watts

“Sleep later, grow now,” offered by Andrew Stewart, Superintendent of Transportation Services at University of California Riverside, was just one of hundreds of fantastic tips on making the most of conference recently shared by past attendees.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.30.54 PMRemember when you were a kid, waking your parents up on a Saturday morning at 5 a.m. to watch cartoons or make breakfast? The energy children have and the lack of the need for sleep has always been amazing to me. I remember being forced to take naps as a kid—I thought it was completely ridiculous and rarely actually went to sleep. Who needed to sleep? There was playing to be done.

I invite you to consider that concept as you make plans to attend the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. I mean, after all, Vegas is the other city that never sleeps, right? So why should you? And since the IPI conference is jam-packed with education like Santa’s toy bag on Christmas Eve, an Expo hall filled with more new toys and gadgets than Toys ‘R Us, more networking than a playground has ever seen, plus facility tours and social events and awards, contests and prizes and exhibitor outings and poster sessions and general sessions and golf and running and tigers (deep breath) OH MY…who has time to sleep?

The IPI Conference will be an experience from the moment you arrive until the very last general session, and we encourage you to make the most of it. There will be cocktail parties and small groups huddled in education sessions\; exciting forward-thinking motivational speakers and opportunities to gain continuing education points; new education tracks and formats; and even a spin on an old idea—Shoptalks that will wrap up the week of learning based on the tracks offered earlier in the week, and where you can dish about what you learned. You’ll meet new friends and reconnect with old friends and along the way, you’ll pick up nuggets to take back to your operation and implement immediately. You’ll gain a bird’s-eye view of industry trends and the future forecast, you’ll learn about technology you had no idea existed in parking, and you’ll see improvements to existing equipment. You’ll find ways to save money and run more efficiently and motivate your team and find new resources IPI makes available to members and the entire parking industry.

You’ll learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know and you’ll get answers to questions that have been keeping you up at night. Best of all, you’ll get to grow now—you can always sleep later!

Wasn’t being a kid great?

To save on your registration rates, register by Feb 28, 2015.

University to Municipality: What a Leap

Doug Holmes

Ah, the wonderful adventures of retired life. All you have to do is make sure you get the few things done around the house that need to be done, run some errands like grocery shopping, do a favor or two for the kids, bounce the grandkids off the ceiling a time or two, or maybe volunteer your time to do some work for the International Parking Institute (IPI).

Then you get THE PHONE CALL. “Hey, Doug, can we meet for lunch?” Sounds pretty innocent until at lunch you find out that your counterpart in the neighboring municipality is leaving his post as parking manager on fairly short notice and would you be willing to help with the transition to the new manager? The big tip-off should have been when I showed up for an interview, nicely groomed, in a suit with resumes and recommendations in-hand, and the first question I heard was, “When can you start?”

I figured what the heck, I have been pretty successful on a university campus for more than 30 years, past chairman of the IPI Board of Directors, and had to deal with 45,000 students, 18,000 parking spaces, 4 parking garages, 15,000 employees, my own staff of about a dozen direct reports, and goodness only knows how many visitors. How could dealing with the parking problems in such a bucolic municipality as State College, Penn., be much different?

The operative word there is “municipality.” I truly thought that at Penn State, I was in the public sector. I guess the answer is, sort of but not really. I know there are some exceptions where an individual state retains the right to set fees, fines, and so forth. But that was my world.

In a municipal setting, unless you have an authority (and maybe then as well) everything turns on the borough code of ordinances. Parking probably cannot just make a change to the application of policy. Once you have convinced the professional staff of a potential change, you must convince the elected officials that what you want to do will have a positive effect on the community. This was a major paradigm shift for me.

I must mention that even though there are a lot of differences between one side of College Avenue (the main dividing line between town and gown) and the other, there are a ton of similarities as well. Basic tactics and equipment are the same. The eleventh amendment to the Constitution, “The right to keep and bear an automobile shall not be abridged,” applies here also. Software may or may not be identical, but the areas of control and logic are very similar. Of course, I could be an old dog trying to learn new tricks, but the political differences between the two jurisdictions are huge.

The change has been significant. I have been rewarded as my abilities have been stretched and many new experiences added. There are times when an oddball idea generated by my academic past rolls around and gains traction in the borough. My different experiences and point of view have been of value here. I am very happy to say that I am still learning and this gig has definitely reinvigorated me. Thanks, State College!

I have been blessed with a very intelligent, imaginative, can-do staff and the phenomenal support of other departments within the borough from the borough manager through the HR director and IT department, down to my own assistants—it’s been marvelous and rewarding. The package of benefits is also very nice. However, I retired for a reason and that is why I have the word “Interim” in front of the title Parking Manager. I started on Sept. 2, 2014, and will be here until the new Parking Czar is in place. By the way, applications are being accepted until Feb. 28.

Be well, and looking forward to seeing you all in Las Vegas for the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo.

Technology: Moving at Warp Speed!

Bruce Barclay

To varying degrees, we are wrapped up in a technology-driven society. An example is each time a new iPhone model is released, consumers queue outside Apple stores to be the first to get the latest model. But technological advances are moving beyond smartphones and into more complex arenas.

Take, for example, the automobile. BMW recently demonstrated a car that parks itself at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A specially equipped BMW i3 was parked by a BMW engineer simply by saying into a smart watch, “BMW, go park yourself.” The engineer then gave another command into the watch, “BMW pick me up,” and the car returned to the engineer. The vehicle did not park itself on a street, but in the multi-level garage of a Las Vegas hotel. Certainly, the transition to driverless cars still has some technology hurdles to overcome, including mapping, but experts say these can be resolved within the next five to 10 years.

A benefactor of driverless cars may be the car share companies, such as Uber and Lyft. Last Monday, Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to develop driverless car and mapping technology. The Uber Advance Technologies Center will be built near CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center and the partnership will focus on research and development into “mapping and vehicles safety and autonomy technology.”

I was puzzled when I read this info. Google has invested more than $250 million in Uber. I would have anticipated Uber and Google would partner to bring the latest autonomous driving technology to the masses. With this announcement, it appears Uber may be heading into a competitive scenario with one of its largest investors.

Uber has stated they have been working on their own mapping technology and are simply accelerating development. Since many of these relationships are sensitive by nature, and information is closely guarded, we will have to stay tuned to find out more on the evolving relationships between Uber, CMU, and Google.

For more info on the Uber/Carnegie Mellon partnership, visit:



Hey Buddy, Can You Tell Me About Changes to U.S. Coins?

Shawn Conrad

At the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo in Dallas, Jon Cameron, the U.S. Mint’s director, office of coin studies, discussed research the U.S. Treasury Department initiated on all circulating coins.  Cameron told a packed Opening Session audience that Congress wished to identify ways to reduce coins’ production costs.  Many might not know that each penny engraved with the 16th president’s likeness costs $0.0166 to make, or that each five-cent nickel costs $0.0809 to manufacture.

For the transportation industry and many other industries (vending, laundry) that rely on coin use, any alteration of the size, shape, weight, and electro-magnetic signature (EMS) of coins could require very expensive equipment alterations.

After extensive research and development on potential alternative metal compositions for circulating coins, the Mint’s Office of Coin Studies made the following recommendations to Congress:

  • Continue large-scale testing to identify a metal mixture that could potentially serve as an alternative to current coins in circulation while reducing costs.
  • Explore production improvements.
  • Continue to keep stakeholders (IPI and other organizations) informed and engaged in R&D efforts.
  • Initiate studies to understand consumer behavior regarding the use of coins in commerce.

In an age when the trust and transparency between government and business is often tested, it is very gratifying to see how open the U.S. Mint is to industry input.  With an estimated cost to U.S. businesses calculated between $2.4 billion to $6 billion to accommodate new coins, the Mint’s efforts to include all stakeholders is welcome.

Parking Shortage? An Easy Way to Increase Supply

Dave Feehan

Do you have a parking shortage in your downtown or business district? Many municipal parking directors and managers of downtown organizations hear scores of complaints from customers and merchants who claim there’s no place to park, at least on the street.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 9.20.27 PMMany cities and towns have focused attention on re-examining streets that carry only modest traffic but are marked either no parking or have limited parking hours. Others have tried to solve the problem of downtown employees arriving early, taking the most desirable spaces, and either plugging meters or periodically moving their cars. However, while these measures may produce modest gains, there is another rich trove of potential spaces most cities are loathe to explore. I’m talking about curbing the abuse of disabled placards.

One city that had the wisdom and courage to tackle this issue recently is Portland, Ore. The Portland Bureau of Transportation estimates that placarded cars occupying prime on-street spaces dropped 70 percent when the city started charging placard displayers $2.40 for 90 minutes. In one enforcement beat in the heart of downtown, parked vehicles displaying placards dropped from 31 percent of available spaces to 8 percent.

Portland isn’t the only city suffering from disabled parking placard abuse. In cities where I’ve consulted in the past few years, parking directors have estimated that 30 percent to as much as 50 percent of on-street spaces are occupied by placard holders.

No one disputes that there are many people who absolutely need close-in, reserved parking. My mother had a very weak heart, walked with a walker, and had a valid reason for obtaining and using a placard. When I had two hip replacements, I used a placard for a few weeks. But I would contend that abuse is way too common, and the solution is a matter of political will. City leaders, however, might find they have allies in local organizations serving disabled people when seeking to end abuse. In one Montana city that was a client of mine, the director of a resource center for disabled people said ending abuse was something he could support because it would free up spaces for those who truly need them.

What seems to work in Portland and other cities with this problem is simply asking people with placards to pay for the spaces they use, even if these spaces are designated for disabled people.