Frictionless, The Belly of the Beast, and Merry…


Frictionless, The Belly of the Beast, and Merry…

I’m writing this the day after Halloween, so it’s difficult to get in the Christmas spirit. I usually reserve most of the gift buying for the week (if not the day) before Christmas and put great pressure on FedEx. 

But this time of year isn’t about gift giving, unless you are three kings…it’s about magic. About the twinkle in a small child’s eye. It’s about wonder, legend, belief and rebirth. It’s about taking time for family and friends. 

It’s about the beauty of one’s spirit, about enjoying the beauty of the season around us. Like it or not, it’s about Christmas. It’s about beautiful music, about tradition, about peace and love. 

I know our betters tell us that we should say “season’s greetings” so as not to offend anyone who isn’t Christian. Sorry, but this season means more than just a simple greeting to me. 

To all our friends, Christian or Jew, Muslim or Hindu, Wiccan, Buddhist or Shinto or any other, I wish you the very merriest Christmas and warmest holiday season. And as you celebrate your seasons of joy, I will try to remember to wish you the best Chanukah, Ramadan, Solstice, New Year, or Diwali possible.  


A friend who attended the NPA event in Florida last week noted that the focus seemed to be on technology as it fits ‘frictionless’ parking and the ‘parking experience.’ A quarter of a century ago, the focus was on revenue control and the use of technology to ensure that the money collected made it to the bank.

We had a column every month about revenue control, and survey after survey told us that our readers wanted information on this very topic. Now, we have moved, almost without discussion, to a focus on the customer.

PT has been leading that charge. My take has been that, as an industry, we have given our customers the short shrift and to keep them in their cars and coming back, we needed to do a much better job of customer service. We needed to provide a parking experience that the parker enjoyed, not tolerated.

But in doing that, should we forget that we are running a business and must keep our eagle eye on the bottom line, on the commercial aspects of what we are doing? Dare we abandon the business of parking for the parking experience?

I just assumed that we would add “the Parking Experience” to our list of priorities and not replace the “business of parking” with it.

I have been reviewing the columns in PT about revenue control and management from ten plus years ago and even with the advent of super technology, most all of the issues we discussed in over 90 editions of our “PT the Auditor” columns still exist today. Human nature hasn’t changed.

So, beginning next month, I’m going to reprise some of the columns that are of interest in our modern high-tech world. Let me know if they find their way into your wheelhouse.

Remember — Disney, Nordstrom’s and Westfield focus on their customers, but they also collect the fee.


I live in the belly of the beast. LAX is a traffic disaster and although the airport is working to alleviate the problem, it will be a few years before change will be felt. I’m sure that by the mid-2020s, much of the issue will go away with people movers, off-airport auto rental centers, and passenger drop off facilities combined with new metro lines making it easy and convenient for passengers outside the airport proper.

In the meantime, the planners have come up with a scheme to take between 500 and 1,000 Taxi, Uber and Lyft cars per hour out of the ‘horseshoe’ and move them to a nearby parking lot. To reach it, you can walk – not far from one terminal, quite a hike from others – or take a dedicated shuttle. The airport says that you can be on your way in less than half an hour, less than the sometimes hour it takes now.

Uber says that the plan will cause more congestion around the new pick up point and other unintended consequences. Fair enough.

I sympathize with the airport. They are trying to do something.

The question is: “Why do I take a taxi, or TNC in the first place?” For me the answer is convenience.

I have just arrived off a six-hour flight – I have walked from my plane to the street. In some cases, I have stopped in the baggage claim area to pick up my suitcase. Frankly, I want to meet my driver, have him/her help me with my bag, and sit in the back of the car until I get home where I will walk a few more feet to my living room and a glass of adult beverage.

What I do not want is to schlep my bags on to a shuttle, ride for 10 minutes, then climb off the shuttle, walk across a waiting area, try to find my taxi/uber/lyft driver, then head off home. If I wanted to do that, I could have driven my car to the airport.

Most of the off-airport locations have valet services that bring my car to the off-airport shuttle stop, take care of the charges in advance, and hand me a water to drink on my drive home.

This extra step has eliminated the reason why I took Uber in the first place.

I understand the issue as far as the airport is concerned, but have they really looked at their traffic? Removing cars is going to help, but frankly, the traffic appears, at least to me, to be buses, vans and shuttles with privately owned vehicles lost in the milieu.

So, not only are the arriving passengers being inconvenienced, but the airport is ADDING shuttle traffic to the mix.

I realize that I know nothing, but the law of unintended consequences is going to kick in and it’s just possible that this will be a boon to off-airport parking operations. If they can keep their service bar set high, my guess is that their vans will be full again, and the TNC business will drop. 

I wrote the above on the day before the new plan went into effect. It’s been running over a week now and chaos has ensued. There are stories daily in the local press and none of it is good. Sigh.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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