I had lunch today with Don Shoup – We live close together and do so about every quarter. Gives me a chance to alter the course of parking interglactically (yeah, right.) Today we talked about on and off street technology. He is high on "automated" garages and was surprised that I thought they had a narrow application. He had toured one in New York and was impressed. I told him I thought that New York City, Boston, Phillly, DC, San Francisco – all the crowded downtowns were in fact perfect for the technology. Building one at an airport or in places where there was plenty of open space made little sense.
He said that the owner of the one in New York told him that people with expensive cars like to park there because of the security, both from theft and damage. I likened them to wine vaults.
He is very into "technology" and using it to further his parking model. In street sensors, Pay by space/display, pay by cell, and even Bern Gush's GPS satellite technology to provide data for proper setting of the rates. He commented that it was easy to write about in theory, but insiders in San Francisco are finding the actual computing of the rates extremely complex. We should keep an eye on the city by the Golden Gate to see just how well it works out. He agreed that academics were much easier that trying to do something in the real world.
He asked me how rates are set in parking garages. I said that it was a black art and that it was done by experience, not by a formula. We talked about early bird rates. He said that his understanding was that most garages set the first hour (or increment) fairly high, because people were more sensitive to the maximum than the first hour. We were at the limit of my meager knowledge. He wondered why an operator would have an early bird if he was able to fill the lot later in the day at a higher rate. I said that I thought a knowledgeable operator knew exactly the number of early birds to sell to ensure a full garage but not too many to take away space from high paying dailies. (Obviously I have no clue.) He asked me if I could bring someone who knew what he was talking about to the next lunch. Any takers?
He is speaking next month to the Australian Parking Association. I told him I gave his pitch to them two years ago. He was concerned that they had already heard it. I told him not to worry…They would much prefer to hear the Shoup Model from Shoup himself.
He laughed when I told him that a blogger had read the article about him in the LA Times this week where he was referred to as the "parking rock star." He had commented in that article that perhaps he should be named "Shoup dog." The blogger who disagreed with practically everything he said noted that perhaps he should drop the "Shoup." Don has a very thick skin.