What I’ve Learned About Parking: The Paper Anniversary
In celebration of her one year anniversary with ParkPlus, our very own Carla Marcano takes her ‘paper anniversary’ seriously and delivers musings on the first year of her journey into the parking industry.
What Have I Learned About Parking?
It is already a year. Definitely, time flies, and I truly believe that in the parking industry it goes faster. I remember the first day I walked into the Calgary Parking Authority’s (CPA) head office. I was terrified. My first thought was “really Carla? parking? how boring!!!” It couldn’t be further from the truth. I come from a country where parking is a nightmare. Long queues, wasted time, people everywhere knocking on your car windows to offer to “take care of your vehicle”; in conclusion, total chaos.
I have always been idealistic. I spend my life thinking how to save the world, how to make people happy. The parking industry couldn’t be my place, I was sure about that. But, as you maybe know, things change, and surprisingly, I changed my mind. I quickly realized that the phrases “making Calgary a better place to live” and “for livable cities” were much more that empty slogans. I quickly understood the huge impact that the parking industry has in our quality of life. The impact it has in what cities look like and how we live and enjoy them. I learned that the parking industry affects not just the city economy but also the environment.
According to the Professor of the University of California and parking industry expert, Donald Shoup, around 30% of drivers in congested areas at peak times are cruising looking for parking. Additionally, Jason Bordoff, former energy advisor to President Obama, says that wrong parking policies lead to more car and driving contributing to pollution, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions. Bordoff explains that “one study of a 15-block area near UCLA found over the course of one-year motorists drove the distance between the earth and the moon four times over while trolling for free curb parking”. To be honest, I was shocked by these facts.
But I got even more surprised when I learned that parking represents a big revenue source for cities. For example, in Calgary, CPA collected in 2016 over 80 million dollars (including parking fees, parking fines and impound lot charges), and gave back to the city around $27 million to finance public services. Parking is also an important information source. Smart parking technologies are used to capture data about traffic behavior, which is in turn used for planning (transportation and development) and improving long-term mobility and sustainability.
During this last year, I have learned that parking has a lot of science. Parking operators have to constantly develop strategies to manage the demand. They have to ensure vacancy, turnover, and revenue. Today, unlike a year ago, I feel happy because I understand that I’m working in a sector that is not that far away from the marketing and hospitality industry (two of my biggest passions) but rather has a lot in common with them. Parking is a convenience, commodity, and customer service. Parking is quality of life.