Mobility – Can Parking Survive without It


Mobility – Can Parking Survive without It

The term “Mobility” has suddenly become the buzzword of the day in our industry. One manager tells me that if she talks about “parking” eyes glaze over, but if she mentions “Mobility” the listeners are engaged. A major parking organization changes its name to add “Mobility” to its letterhead. “MaaS” (Mobility as a Service) is on every seminar list.

When I was having breakfast at the T2 Connect event last week and chatting with the folks at the table something obvious occurred to me. They were all from cities or universities. The organization names on their shirts included “Transportation.” Every one were members of a “Parking and Transportation” group at their city or school. Makes sense since they are T2’s primary customer base.

That is also true of name changing IPI, of the majority of members of local and regional associations, of the “Smart City” groups that talk of Mobility, and the vendors like pay by cell, sensor, and on street meter and enforcement companies. They all focus on municipal/university groups and hence, have concern about “Mobility” as well as Transportation, as well as Parking. Fair Enough.

But what about the tens of millions, or maybe hundreds of millions of parking spaces that aren’t controlled by cities or universities. What about parking at shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, apartments, venues, airports, hospitals, restaurants, myriad valet operations, strip malls, supermarkets, and theaters, places that are controlled, collect money, and provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of parking attendants, valets, managers, supervisors, operations vice presidents and CEO’s.

Do these parking professionals who work for organizations have “Mobility” on their minds when they go to work every morning. They probably have the opposite. How do they conveniently and quickly stop the “Mobility” of vehicles and place them where they can be conveniently and quickly retrieved when needed.

Parking and Transportation groups see their mandate to provide parking, but also to provide transportation (buses, bike lanes, scooters, curb controls, trolleys, rapid transit, and the like) in an effort to see to it that congestion is reduced, fewer and fewer actually drive single occupancy vehicles, and alternatives are created.

The mandate is laudable and necessary. The Public sector has a job to do and Mobility is part of that job.

But the private sector has a job to do too. For the 85% of the commuters that need a place to park at the end of their trip (A number that hasn’t changed in 60 years) the private operator and owner of parking spaces must continue to fulfill its mandate.

As an industry we must not be distracted by “Mobility” even though eyes glaze over and “Parking” isn’t a buzzword. In a politically driven world, like municipalities, “Mobility” is popular. But do away with parking and see what the Mayor or City Council have to say.

Universities and Cities must keep the buses running, and bike lanes, scooters, and trolleys are important, too. “Mobility” has its place.

But at the same time, those hundreds of millions of cars need to find a place to conveniently and quickly park daily. The private sector is doing that in spades every day. And that isn’t going away soon.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Good article John: Funny how buzzwords and false statistics seem to dominate our industry where 85% of the people, our customers, are not impacted or should I say do not benefit from any portion of the discussion. They are actually negatively impacted by bike lanes and scooters and pay taxes to pay for costly mass transit that has no real impact on congestion or pollution.

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