Point of View: Are We Doing Ourselves a Disservice?


Point of View: Are We Doing Ourselves a Disservice?

February, 2023


Astrid Ambroziak, our Parknews.biz editor, reports that she is getting news every day that crime in parking, read that in garages and with PEOs in on the rise, up in some areas as much as 95 percent. What are we, as an industry, doing about it?

It is almost like we are ignoring the problem. I don’t see activity on a national level addressing crime in our facilities. We have always had a bad reputation in this area, mayhap it’s time to attack it head on.

We here at PT have a New Year’s resolution, to have articles in every issue about crime reduction and safety in garages. In January, we had an excellent article about a former law enforcement professional who is using techniques he learned on “the job” to not only lower crime, but raise revenues and overall customer satisfaction. From the article:

“One day, when I was reviewing data analytics for this parking lot, I noticed that the revenue numbers were up, car counts were up, citation collection rate was higher, but citation issuing was down. In addition, the appeals rate was lower, and there were a lot fewer complaints about safety concerns like lighting conditions, cleanliness, and even harassment from the homeless population. So, what had changed? This parking lot was doing well before he stepped in, but now it was outperforming every other parking lot in the region.”

The solution was “saturation patrols.” The idea being that at non-peak times, employees were in their uniforms, out in the garage, engaging customers, picking up trash, fixing lighting, dealing with homeless, and making the place more welcoming. Read the entire story in January PT.

But, and it’s a big BUT…to do this we have to have boots on the ground. That means we have to have employees in the garage. Rather than investing in ways to decrease the number of staff, we have to keep our customers engaged with those who work in the garages. Sure, maybe we can ‘get rid’ of a staff member by applying this technology or that, but what if we can increase our revenues by double or triple the cost of that staff member by keeping him or her in place? Which is the better decision?

I think I know the answer to that, and so do you.

Astrid has a lead article in a recent Parknews Newsletter that expresses concern that EV charging stations can be hacked and through that hack, can collect user data, and even bring down the grid.  

This is not some JVH look out the window piece but is written by Sandia Labs after a four-year study. That means that most likely it’s real. So where does that leave us? The study simply says that we are moving too fast, that EV charging companies are being incentivized to be first to market and get those chargers online. Adding high security takes time and costs money so it is being left by the wayside.

I want convenience. I know the back streets to take to miss most of the traffic to the airport.

I know, I know – this is self serving for JVH since I have been saying for months, even years, that we are not letting the free market work, but are pushing much too fast on this EV program. 

We are leading technology by simply believing what ‘futurists’ are telling us and moving forward pall mall in spite of reality staring us in the face.

Parking Managers are telling me that not only are chargers becoming more expensive, but the cost of installation can be, and often is, more than the cost of the charger. 

I was told just the other day that one manager simply would like to hire an electrical consulting engineer to give her a valid installation number before she started down this EV path. She then told me that those folks, ones who will actually commit to a number, are few and far between. 

She likened it to getting a price for home improvements, only to find when the walls are opened there is mold or rot that was unknown when the price was given.

Would it not make more sense to move slowly down this path? Allow technology, both in the EVs themselves and in chargers, to move up to the expectations of the garage operators and the driving public? 

I’m sure that the manufacturers will get there, I’m just not sure how long it will take.

Upwards of a quarter of a million people flew out of LAX during the last months and most got to the airport by private vehicle. 

They were either dropped off, or they parked their car at one of the many thousands of spots both on and off airport. 

Some might call these drivers foolish, but I wonder.

What was their alternative?

I guess they could take a fly away bus, Uber or Lyft, or a taxi, but then what? For the bus, they have to get to the terminus either be dropped off or park. 

They then must schlep their bags to the bus, and get them loaded on the bus. They leave on the buses’ schedule.

As for Uber/Lyft or taxi, the cost can be more than parking at the airport, depending on their length of stay. Plus, at LAX and many other airports, they are dropped off outside the airport and must take a shuttle to their terminal, thus loading and unloading bags a second time.

When I take a parking shuttle, the driver helps me with my bags at both ends and then drops me off a few feet from the skycap. 

I then take a short walk to my plane. I do it on my schedule, not one created for me by a bureaucrat at a bus or Uber/Lyft or taxi company.

More important, when I return, I want to go home, not wait for a shuttle, Lyft, or a bus, and then sort out my transportation at the other end.

I want convenience. I know the back streets to take to miss most of the traffic to the airport. 

I make a reservation to park so I get the cheapest cost and am ensured of a spot. I know how long it’s going to take me, and when I have to leave to catch my flight.

It would seem the airport agrees with me. LAX just built a 4,000-car parking garage adjacent to the airport with fast shuttles to each terminal. 

Why would an airport build parking if, we assume, they are really wanting us not to drive? 

I can think of one reason, they listen to their customers. And the customers tell them they want to drive.

This year we stayed at home for the holidays – and saved ourselves the challenges of not just parking, but severe weather disruptions, too. 

But those holidays when we had to be at two celebrations on the same day are still in my memory.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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