Predictions, the Parking Decades to Come


Predictions, the Parking Decades to Come

I had a wide ranging conversation with Matt Darst, VP at Xerox, the other day. We were discussing where the industry was headed and I asked for his predictions. It will be the basis for an upcoming article in PT. Matt’s a bright guy and a thinker. He was commenting that the industry is being disrupted, but that we shouldn’t panic. He disagrees with those that see down-towns becoming walking zones and the burbs turning into old folks homes.

Matt agrees with Barbara Chance who posited at PIE last year that rapid transit and buses simply weren’t capable of handling the influx into most cities, and that private vehicles were here to stay, at least in the next two or so decades. The young are moving into the city, but as they marry and begin to have families, they will be drawn back to the suburbs and a better life for their children.

Self driving cars is a topic that strikes fear in the hearts of parking pros. Matt can’t see anything happening for fifteen to twenty years. The problem isn’t the technology, its all that must happen to allow their marvels loose on society. “Did you read Isaac Isamov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics'” he said. (I looked it up: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.) “We have to have the regulatory infrastructure in place to handle these cars. And that will take a lot of time.”

In addition, consider the insurance implications — who is at fault when a driverless car is involved in an accident…the owner, the passenger, the dealer, the manufacturer, the company that wrote the software? Plus there is an ethical consideration. Drivers must sometimes make split second decisions. Turn right, hit the simi filled with gasoline, turn left hit the mother in the crosswalk. Who makes the decision as to which way to turn, when the software is written years before the incident. There is more to discuss than simply whether the car can drive itself.

Owners of parking facilities will have to make decisions as to what to do with them as the number of vehicles heading into the city begins to wane. Uber and Lyft will affect our business. Matt sees garages becoming multi use, with shops, clubs, restaurants and apartments replacing some of the parking spaces.  “We are in the enviable position of being able to make these decisions slowly. We won’t have to suddenly tear down an empty  garage and replace it with a high rise.”

On street is another topic. I asked him if he felt all the technology we are seeing on street (multi space meters, P and D, credit card meters, sensors) were here to stay. We agreed that much of this was a bridge technology, and that connected cars along with GPS technology will one day, and probably soon, replace on street collection devices. Existing 1957 classic Chevys will be equipped with small devices that will identify the car and driver and interact with satellites to determine the location of the vehicle and the proper charges (or citation) to issue.

Ticketless, gateless parking? Why not. If that device is in all cars, then why not simply sense (can you say NFC or Bluetooth) the vehicle as it enters a lot. If its a monthly, so be it. If its a daily its logged in and out as it enters and exits and the charges are covered by Apple Pay or its equivalent. If you are not allowed in a lot, an alarm is triggered and a staff member drops by to cite or tow the vehicle.  This technology already exists, but needs a bit of tweaking to become pervasive.

Matt thinks dynamic pricing for off street garages should be here now. There is no reason why parking can’t be sold like airline seats or hotel rooms. Price it based on demand. On street is a challenge until we can better communicate with drivers. Using dynamic pricing to affect behavior  works only when drivers know BEFORE they park. Once they are parked and out of the car, the price seldom affects their actions.

This time of year we are asked to predict what will happen in the next 12 months. I prefer to take a longer view and say that Matt’s predictions are spot on, maybe when my 10 year old grand daughter graduates college and takes responsibility for her vehicle.

Happy New Year — Live long and Prosper — and look at the problems you see with all the above as opportunities.



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. The thing that fascinates me about the whole driverless vehicle thing is what happens to parking space and roadway width? Right now, parking spaces are configured to allow passengers to get into and out of the car once it is parked. Think about how much less space you would need if you got out of the car and the car parked itself – we could dramatically increase the number of spaces per SF for either new or existing parking facilities.

    Then there is the width of public roads. Travel lanes are MUCH wider than they need to be because they need to take into account human error (or lack of ability to drive in the middle of lane all the time). Imagine how much extra public right of way we’ll have when cars can drive at high speeds only inches apart.

  2. More 2016 Prediction

    1. Legacy parking companies (ProPark, Impark, LAZ Parking, SP+, etc) will continue to be confused, frustrated, and waste their money trying to compete with ParkWhiz, Parking Panda, SpotHero, ParkMe by sub-contracting their websites, mobile apps, etc to expensive agencies. Or hiring the wrong people, never understanding online user acquisition strategy.

    2. Parking reservation startups will push off street parking managers to label and identify each spot similar to an airline seat / seat in a stadium. This will eliminate many of the problems with regards to operations of parking reservations, eliminate the customer service issues, and maximize every $ per square foot of offstreet parking real-estate

    2. SpotHero’s fundraising momentum will allow them to raise a major round in the $50mn+ range

    3. Parking Panda partnership momentum will allow them to add additional major brands to their portfolio of partnerships alongside: Amtrak, Megabus, Greyhound, NFL, NHL, MLB

    4. M&A activity will significantly increase with the companies mentioned above

  3. allow me to concentrate on parking or more exact garages where to park the cars when not in use. Actually we always have limitless space and very good locations too. So whether you are riding on a driverless car or you drive your own car, you always can stop and alight right infront of your destination door and do your business. Because the space and location am talking about is just under or a few meters above the street! We need only a simple trick to park our car that way! Good luck!

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