Welcome to Reykjavik … Parking, that is


Welcome to Reykjavik … Parking, that is

According to “lonely planet” Reykjavik is

“The world’s most northerly capital and combines colourful buildings, quirky, creative people, eye-popping design, wild nightlife and a capricious soul.”

I was honored to be able to spend a few hours with Kolbrun Jonatansdottir the Director of the Reykjavik Parking Service. She met me at the ship and drove around the city showing her very extensive parking program. This was not the first time I had met Kolbrun, as she and her number one, Kristin Ragnarsdottir, attended PIE this year.

The Icelanders approach the money collected in parking differently from most other places. It remains with the Parking Service and they are required to pay all expenses, including the building of parking structures from the revenue. “The law mandating that was passed decades ago,” Kolbrun told me. “They have tried to change it but so far, we have prevailed.”
Kolbrun has built a number of new structures and is currently replacing the aging PARCS systems in all of her off street operations. She is also upgrading her pay and display onstreet meters to pay by plate. “Our enforcement officers are connected to the equivalent of your DMV and when they write a citation, it is automatically populated with all the data about the vehicle. It makes for many fewer mistakes. When a driver complains, I can more easily deny the complaint.” She smiled when she said that.
Kolbrun runs half a dozen structures, sized from a few hundred to over 1000 spaces. She supervises nearly three thousand on street spaces, handling them with just over 200 Pay and Display, soon to be Pay by Plate machines. Her company of choice is Flowbird. She will be selecting a new company for her PARCS system.

Kolbrun and one of her new Pay by Plate machines
The tour guide from the ship told us that tourism is the growth industry. Kolbrun pointed out numerous hotels under construction. However, she is a bit more sanguine about tourists than the local guides. “I think the hotels are going to be looking for people to fill them soon,” she said. “Tourists are getting out of hand. They are destroying our natural beauty, refuse to follow the signs in restricted areas (volcanic hot springs, glaciers) and something will have to be done soon. They are talking about stopping tourists from going to those areas. If there is nothing to see, no one will come. Hotels will go empty.”
Reykjavik is a small city of 200,000 (there is a total of 300,000 people in Iceland) and the Parking Operation reflects the city with a clean, crisp, modern operation. It fits the city well and its managers bring up to date parking theory to bear on the drivers in this environment.

You will find EV charging stations in her garages. This is to be expected in a city that is heated by hot water from thermal springs nearby.

A street in the heart of the city, soon to be converted to pedestrian only
Kolbrun may be right about the restriction of tourists to the city area, but frankly it looked to me like a super place to visit on its own. Reykjavik seems to fit the Lonely planet” description above. Just be sure you pay you parking fees. If not, Kolbrun and her team will be tapping you on the shoulder.

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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