A solution in search of a problem


A solution in search of a problem

I have always had a lot of respect for Cooper Marcus and his Spark Parking – they are starting to roll out their system in Northern California — however that, too is another story. He was talking about parking reservations.  He said that it was neat, but that he felt it was a "solution in search of a problem."

I have been saying this for years but not quite as eloquently. How often have you been unable to find a parking space, really. How many lots and garages are regularly marked as "full." I never have.

When I’m in a town and looking for an address I find the address then look around for parking. I usually find a space either on or off street with a couple of minutes if not seconds. Why would I want to be forced to park in a certain lot I had reserved days earlier when a closer, cheaper, more convenient spot might be available when I arrive.

OK Airports fill up two or three days a year. Its hard to get a spot at the mall on the Day after Thanksgiving or Christmas. But to set up a complex reservation program for these couple of days or issues is attempting to use technology to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. My main question since the introduction to parking reservations has been at what point, assuming that you have a nearly full facility, do you stand at the ticket spitter and check who should and should’t be entering the facility? Seems pretty silly to me!

  2. John:
    I’m no fan of online reservations systems either. Several popped up in the late 90s as 20-something dotcom entrepreneurs got lots of professional parking managers to load inventory, only to burn drivers as they walked past 20 closer and cheaper spots on their way from the reserved spot to their intended destination.
    I know you get around, but it’s worth pointing out that driving in LA is very different than in other cities, like San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, DC, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, etc. LA was built for drivers. Up here in SF, I’m often circling blocks for up to 20 minutes at a time, always in places not served by mass transit. We’ve got some ways to solve that problem at CarHarbor. It goes beyond the universal solution that Shoup’s book espouses.
    Keep up the great work on your blog.

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