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Sweet Sixteen

August 16, 2017

THE DATA PATH TO UCONNíS PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN

Joseph Sciulli and Barbara Chance

The University of Connecticut’s superlative women’s and men’s basketball programs have made numerous NCAA Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four appearances – not to mention winning National Championships. (A partial list of the teams’ accomplishments is provided at the end of this article.)


As part of the overall University’s accomplishments, a new Campus Master Plan was completed for the Storrs Campus and the North Campus, known also as the Tech Park. In the overall transportation analysis, four new garages were planned to be constructed by 2025. Three of the garages were anticipated to be constructed through the Next Generation Connecticut (NextGenCT) funding, the State of Connecticut’s ambitious investment in economic development, higher education and research. Since Parking Services operates as an Auxiliary, the ability of the department to cover associated operating and maintenance fund costs, and perhaps more of the construction costs, was a critical issue to be examined.


The Project


As a follow-on assignment to previous on-call work for the University that assessed the potential for monetization of the parking system, CMA was asked to prepare a Near Term strategy and financial analysis of the parking and transportation plans in the Campus Master Plan and the Tech Park Master Plan. The project revisited the recommended garages and lots to be constructed, and developed a business model to see if there would be sufficient funds to pay for one or more different combinations of the construction, debt service, operating costs, and capital maintenance reserve funds of the parking facilities to be developed.


The development of the three garages in the core of the Main Campus was intended to replace 1,450 surface spaces anticipated to be displaced as a result of new construction, athletic fields and green space.


Strategic and operational recommendations for siting and configuring new parking were one principal deliverable of CMA’s consulting engagement; the other was the business model and financial analysis/projections that would facilitate these changes. The purpose of this article is to plumb the depths of the financial analysis methods that helped to shape – and, to an extent, were shaped by - the strategic and operational recommendations made to the University.


Policy and Other Challenges to UConn Parking Finances


While not unique to UConn, a near term capital improvement plan needed to be reflective of several financial hurdles or limiting factors that had to be considered. These hurdles included:


organized labor agreements that would link future parking rate adjustments for represented employees to their percentage salary increases, not to exceed 2.5% annually;


the fact that there had been no faculty or staff salary raises for the past three years, so the potential to sufficiently adjust parking rates to meet capital requirements would be politically sensitive and potentially limited; and


the recommended parking locations in the master plan for increases in the parking supply were not the most desirable for customers, access from the transportation system, and potential development costs; so alternative scenarios were developed as part of the financial plan to evaluate the best options.


In addition, although some progress toward the master plan’s enrollment projections had already been made, an iterative process ensued to reach consensus among key players as to the timing and extent of future student and employee growth.


The development of the capital improvement plan included a detailed examination of existing and future conditions under a number of different development and funding scenarios. In retrospect, the process involved 16 unique steps to arrive at the ultimate financial model(s).


So in honor of UConn basketball’s recurrent appearances in the NCAA national championship tournament, the remainder of this article concerns itself with the Sweet Sixteen steps that led to the business model of the Near Term Capital Improvement Plan for Parking and Transportation.


The Sweet Sixteen Steps to a
Parking Capital Improvement Plan


Now, sixteen steps of anything is a lot to process at one time! And if described in their entirety, they would make for a lengthy novel – even longer than John Van Horn’s recently-published Death by Parking book (available now at Amazon.com!).


But those Sweet Sixteen steps also fit nicely into a Final Four package of quantitative analysis activities, which can be illustrated as four distinct analytical regions, as shown below and described further in the following paragraphs.


Within the Gather Data region, if you will, we have Data Steps 1 through 3.


1- Confirm current and past populations by group


2- Project future populations by group


3- Gather historical program revenues and expenses


Of these, the data for Step 3 may be the easiest to obtain, as was the case in UConn. Parking managers generally keep excellent records of their financial performance data, and UConn was no exception. But it might come as a surprise to some, if not many, that it can be downright difficult to obtain consistent data regarding historical, current and future projections of campus populations. After all, population is the driver (pun intended) of parking demand.


So properly projecting parking demand requires that the groups most exhibiting different driving patterns (faculty, staff, graduate students, resident students and commuter students), should have their data consistent across the various departments of a campus, including: Human Resources, the Registrar, Student Life, Admissions, IT, and Parking!


Unfortunately, having consistent population data and projections is not always the case. To obtain them may require an iterative approach of requests, confirmations, and coordination of the data among departments until a common data set is agreed upon. So patience, persuasion and persistence are the operative Three P’s needed to develop a common data set upon which to base future demand projections.


CMA Trackback: By coordinating with key university departments to develop population data sets in advance of and during a master plan, the parking manager can pave the way toward accurate parking requirement forecasts.


Next, we move on to the Calibrate Data region, which includes Steps 4 and 5. Even Jonathan the Husky can’t wait to hear about these!


4- Establish historical base data for parking transactions and revenue ratios


Permit holders


Transient customers


Special event customers


5- Calculate driving ratios by group (faculty, staff, students)


Steps 4 and 5 take us on a deeper dive into the sea of data that hopefully is maintained in good and ready form by the parking department. What we’re attempting here is to quantify the driving ratios (permits ÷ population) for the population groups that were mentioned in Step 1.


Along with permit sales data for employees and students, “average” parking rates were calculated to serve as an index of rates for the groups in question, as UConn pro-rates permit fees by date of purchase through the semester. We also were provided with annual revenues for special events, which facilitated the calculation of transaction volumes given standardized special event rates.


In sum, CMA used these data to establish historical and existing conditions for campus parking ratios and revenue levels. We determined the average value of garage and surface lot permits, transient parking transactions, and special event transactions. These data comprised the foundation on which future permit sales and rate adjustments would be made.


CMA Trackback: Quantify past and present parking revenues, transaction volumes and driving ratios by customer type to build a firm foundation for population-based forecasts of parking demand and revenue.


For more detailed information about developing the business model and near term capital improvement plan, you’ll have to read next month’s issue of Parking Today. But you can see a short-cut model by visiting CMA’s website to download the 2017 IPI Conference & Expo presentation “There’s No Master In That Plan”, delivered by CMA and Bill Wendt, University of Connecticut Director of Logistics Administration, available at: http://chancemanagement.com/res_presentations.html


Connecticut Huskies Women’s Basketball accomplishments include: most consecutive NCAA victories (111); undefeated seasons (6); NCAA Final Four appearances (17); NCAA National Championships (11). Connecticut Huskies Men’s Basketball accomplishments include: Big East Tournament Championships (7); NCAA Final Four appearances (5); NCAA National Championships (4).


BY: Joseph P. Sciulli, CAPP


V.P. and Senior Operations Consultant


joseph.sciulli@chancemanagement.com


 


Barbara J. Chance, Ph.D.


President and CEO


barbara.chance@chancemanagement.com


www.chancemanagement.com



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