‘How Green Is my Tesla? Some Random Memories And a Lack of Parking Pros
A contributor’s post over at PowerLineBlog.com in late January reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about Teslas and “range anxiety.” He was very defensive and noted that if a person had a problem driving a Tesla from LA to Las Vegas (beyond the range of a one-charge Tesla), they were simply poor planners.
The amazing thing is that my friend doesn’t even own a Tesla. One of the points in the blog post is that Tesla owners are very proud of their cars and make sure you know they own one. They are most proud because of the lack of environmental impact of their car. Fair enough.
However, the blog post does go to great length to compare the amount of energy used to power a Tesla Model S and a BMW 7 series (approximately same size and cost). There are a lot of math and formulas in the post, but to summarize: The BMW7 actually uses less energy and is, therefore, less polluting than the Tesla. Not by a lot, but certainly beyond the margin of error.
I had always thought that what electric cars do is simply move the pollution from the tailpipe to a power plant. Energy is energy. To convert it to something we can use, such as power to drive wheels, takes more energy.
I think this is too good to check; however, I sent the blog post to a friend who is an engineer and eats stuff like this for breakfast. He said the numbers fit, so sit just a little straighter in your Belchfire V12. You may not be the only one threatening polar bears and whales.
In late January, I joined about 100 parking pros from across Southern California at the Julie Dixon-organized quarterly meeting (or maybe it’s semi-annual) that invites anyone who wants to come and talk parking. Topics were requested when we signed in (fill in a topic on a 3×5 card and Julie would throw it out to the group), and information rained down.
Some random memories:
License plate recognition (LPR) — a number of organizations, cities and universities are toying with using LPR to speed up entrance and exit times and ease permit issuance. Nothing is on-line yet but will be soon. Chris McKenty of Sentry Control Systems reported on LPR at the MGM in Las Vegas and said they were tweaking it almost daily to help it read the various plates seen in Vegas, including Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California and even those from as far away as Florida and Canada. He said they were up to a 90% read rate, and used tickets as a backup for those not read. Nice to hear someone tell the truth about LPR.
Dynamic pricing — Peer Ghent of the city of Los Angeles told about the success of dynamic pricing in Downtown LA. Revenue is up, he gets few complaints (his phone number is on the meters), and it seems to be working well.
Someone else at the meeting asked about “on-street parking reservations.” After the laughter died down, it was agreed that that was illegal, but that on-street valets could get a variance.
Enforcement tools brought a lot of discussion. Key was that at least half of those present used smartphones as input devices, rather than purpose-built ticket-writers.
I, of course, caused some consternation when the topic of “Smart Cities” came up. I opined that I felt it was a term in search of a definition, and that it could be a marketing campaign for big companies such as Conduent (Xerox), Google, Siemens, IBM, Apple, Microsoft and the like.
At lunch, Ann Muenster-Nuiry of Conduent introduced herself, and I agreed to meet to find out all about what they were doing in this area. Yikes.
It was noted that sending data to individuals often happened long after the fact and, therefore, was not as helpful as it could be. I commented that typically the technology was bid at low prices, and there wasn’t enough money to truly make things work properly.
We discussed pay-by-cell, and Peer noted that although LA had a program, it was used in less than 1% of transactions. Julie asked how many in the room had pay-by-cell and how many had more than 5%. No one did.
I noted that LA didn’t promote it at all, and when I asked, found that only about half those present who lived in LA even knew the program existed. Peer glanced at me with some disdain.
Julie puts on a great event. Contact her at Julie@dixonresourcesunlimited.com to get on the mailing list for the next one.
As Astrid noted over on PT’s parknews.biz, the LA Times has editorialized on parking issues (“What should a parking ticket in L.A. cost?” Feb. 4, 2017).
On balance, the city of Los Angeles is saying that it can’t cut parking ticket rates, because … wait for it … they have a shortfall in the city’s budget. So this means that the City of Angels sees parking citations as a revenue source, and not as a way to change the way people live in the city.
My experience is that parking folks see fines as a way to adjust behavior. The revenue is secondary.
It seems that, a couple of years ago, the mayor of my fair city empaneled a commission to study parking and has received a report recommending many changes to how parking is handled. It’s pretty comprehensive and has some good ideas, but what I found most distressing was that when you get to the end and the list of the 30 or 40 on the commission, not one was a full-fledged member of the parking profession.
It’s not that they don’t exist in Los Angeles. We have consultants, parking operators, experts who run parking on- and off-street in a hundred cities within a stone’s throw of LA. There are equipment manufacturers, software engineers, and even the odd editor. But not one was asked to serve on a commission that was planning the future of parking for the city.
Most were politicians, a few restaurant owners, some gadflies who ran local commissions and “represented” neighborhoods. Granted, their input was needed. But as the Times noted in the editorial, the technology used in LA is decades out of date. Who on the commission knew diddly about parking technology, where it worked, where it doesn’t, and how to apply it?
I know I don’t play well with politicians. But I’m sure many in our business do.
In the meantime, we in LA will continue with a pay-by-cell program no one knows about; having enforcement follow street-sweepers and write tickets; having signage that is so complex a lawyer would run away screaming ... and $150 million generated for the city’s General Fund.
All is right with the world.