Fine with fines

I don’t know what’s crazier: municipalities forcing people to pay for messed up parking tickets, or people spending huge amounts of time and energy to fight a messed up parking ticket, most especially when the ticket was only for $65.

Here’s how it went: A woman parks on a New York City street to pick up her husband from the hospital. She misses all the signs that say she needs to pay to park, including the signs and the meters themselves. She helps her husband, who’s suffering from cancer, to the car and finds two tickets on her windshield. Both tickets are for parking illegally, but one is for parking illegally on a street she isn’t actually parked on. She is more than willing to pay the fine for parking illegally, but only wants to pay the fine for parking illegally on the street where she parked illegally. She doesn’t think it’s right that she’s asked to pay a fine for parking illegally on a street where she didn’t park.

She appeals the ticket and even goes so far as to ask the hospital for video footage showing she was in the hospital collecting her husband during the time she was fined for parking illegally nowhere near the hospital. Her appeal is denied. She contacts nj.com’s Bamboozled columnist and asks for help. Bamboozled is unable to contact anyone at the city offices who can address the problem. The woman then gives up and pays the fine so she can drive in to New York without the threat of a warrant for her arrest.

Though we can all understand the principle of the thing, I think there’s something to be said for considering the cost of living within the system and leaving it at that. Mistakes will be made and sometimes they will not be made in our favor. There’s not much intelligence in a system that allows for this much error, but there is intelligence in weighing the cost against your time and your peace of mind.

Read the article here.

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Machines don’t run without people

There was a time when people speculated that machines would eventually rule the world, but I think it’s been pretty well established that machines need people. We might all become slaves to our automated infrastructure, but we will still rule the world. Case in point, two parking meters in the city of Hudson, NY, broke down earlier this year and nobody fixed them. According to the Register-Star, the result was huge revenue loss.

While receipts at the Front Street lot, $92,145, are at 58 percent of what was budgeted for this year, $160,000, City Treasurer Heather Campbell said, they are only at 42 percent of what was budgeted for 2013, $217,279, and she assumes the lower number is because of the machines.

Initially, there was some indecision about who would fix the machines and where the money would come from to fix them. That delay left the meters broken long enough to cost the city some serious cash. The machines have been repaired now. It was reported that one needed a new motherboard and both needed new modems. The repair cost was $3,000.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Dennis Quinn

We have received word that Dennis Quinn, longtime parking fixture in the Chicago area, passed away on August 16 after a long illness.  He was a senior member of the management team at System Parking, and became a VP at ABM when it purchased system.

If you have more information on Dennis’ life, please let me know

JVH

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Back-in Parking too Tough for Some

In Paw Paw, Mich. residents are not completely sure the city’s new “back-on” policy is so simple. Fox News reports Paw Paw’s downtown is plagued with speed issues, congestion issues, and pedestrian and cyclist safety issues. They are trying to address the problems with a slew of new ordinances and infrastructure changes.

Village Manager Larry Nielsen told FOX 17 that by decreasing Michigan Avenue traffic lanes down to two, then adding a bicycle lane and angled parking, officials hope to draw more people to the area and safely, to make the village “a place where people drive to rather than drive through.”

The emphasis on back-in parking is meant to protect cyclists in the bicycle lane between the parking spots and the road. But a vocal number of residents say back-in parking doesn’t work because other drivers don’t understand what the back-in parker is trying to do. They ignore the blinker and crowd the driver attempting to park and then the whole thing falls apart.

“That is the stupidest road I’ve ever seen,” said John Fouth, Paw Paw resident. “I’ve traveled this country, all 48 states, Canada, Mexico, and I have never seen a fiasco like what you’ve got going on downtown. Strictly stupid, dumb, period.”

If only Mr. Fouth could be more specific about his opinions.

The program has been in place for just a week now and city leaders hope the entire project will be completed next year.

Read the article here.

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JerkTech — What’s that all about?

Tech Crunch coined a new term, JerkTech. according to them:

“All of these apps are essentially tools for scalping a public good or open resource. They don’t deserve to take something that’s supposed to be free and first come, first serve so they can sell it.”

Politicians have picked it up. They are running after Monkey Parking and Haystack certain that the two apps and others like it will end civilization as we know it. In some cases, like the app Uber which is going  eye to eye with the taxi industry or Airbnb which is taking hotels by storm they have become multi billion dollar industries.

In the case of Uber, you use your smart phone to get a clean cheap ride in a ‘private’ car. Taxi’s hate it because their monopoly is gone. Tens of thousands of car owners, mostly young, are working part time giving people a lift. Uber says they are all insured, and all the financial details are handled on line.  You just ride in comfort. So if taxis are to survive, they will have to change the way they operate. Doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

Airbnb is turning the travel industry on its ear. If you have an apartment or house somewhere and aren’t going to be using it, list on Airbnb and most likely someone will sigh up to take it off your hands for a few days. Its self policing and if your place turns out to be a dump, you will never get another visit. I’ve used it three times and found it just what I needed.

But, what about Haystack. Its an app that allows you to notify other members of Haystack when you are about to leave an onstreet parking spot and sell that information to someone who want’s a spot in that neighborhood. You wait until the other person shows up, pull out and they pull in.  I’m assuming that the money clears through the app. Neat and Clean.

Not so, says San Francisco and Boston. In Beantown the mayor said :

“Here we have a company that wants to come in here, create an industry, and profit from it,” Walsh told the Boston Business Journal.

O good heavens, the humanity… The mayor goes on:

“They’re basically squatting in publicly owned spots and selling those spots. You’re selling something that’s not yours… It’s just not fair.”

He sounds like a three year old in a sand box.

But hold on. How is this app affecting the city. They are getting full revenue from the parking spots. No one is taking anything away. If they are so concerned about driver A giving driver B the rest of the time on the meter, get with the program and reset the meter when driver A leaves.  I’m not in favor of that, but you could do it.

Pass an ordinance and tax Haystack, so much a transaction, or a percentage of the take.

Everyone is threatening law suits, but I can’t figure out who is harmed here.  This month in PT we had a cover story about Monkey Parking by Lenny Bier, lawyer, executive director to the New Jersey Parking Institute and all round good parking guy.  He comes down pretty hard on the app, basically saying that it will cause congestion and cause a ripple in the force of dynamic parking. Don Shoup call your office.

It seems to me that Lenny’s concern about taxi drivers making this a second business is a stretch since they will have to pay to park at the meter and it takes them out of circulation.  If they get only about $3 to 5 bucks a go but end up paying the same amount to park, it seems to me that those shrewd cabbies will learn quickly there is no money in this.

As for getting cars off the street quickly, if someone snags a space on main street through Haystack and has to be there in 3 minutes or it is gone, it seems like we are getting cars off the street pretty quickly. But what do I know.

I do know that the city could make more money by taxing these apps than complaining about them.

Taxis are going to have to clean up their act because of Uber, maybe on street parking will have to do the same because of Haystack.

Who knows.

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Hot doggie

People love their pets like children. They buy them personalized collars, beds and blankets; they buy them strollers and sweaters; they take them everywhere they go and pick up their poop; some even purchase special doggie seat belts so Fido doesn’t fly through the windshield if they’re in an accident.

Strangely, some of these same people who take their dogs everywhere and pick up their poop also leave their dogs in hot cars in parking lots. According to click2houston.com, a Texas man has been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for leaving his dog in his car while he bought groceries.

Investigators said a witness first noticed the dog inside the car at 5:10 p.m. The car was off and the windows were rolled up. The dog could be seen on the floorboard and looked to be distressed. The witness told the store manager, who then paged the owner of the car several times inside the store. No one answered the page. At 5:30 p.m. they called police.

It’s just as hard for me to imagine why this individual would leave his dog in the car on a hot Texas day as it is to imagine why he was arrested for it. The man said he forgot to crack the windows. He paid a $1,000 bond and will likely accrue heavy costs to defend his mistake.

I don’t have a dog, but if I did I don’t think I’d take it to the grocery store. I see dogs in cars often and most of them look distressed – most of them are barking their heads off and bouncing around the interior of the car trying to protect their territory from each window. Dogs don’t really travel well.

Read the article here.

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Central’s Jim Bond, Dead at 72

I have known Jim Bond for over 30 years. I can’t say we were close, but Jim was always friendly. He worked at many levels at Central, but except for the first decade of his 41 years there, he was at Monroe Carrels right hand. What Monroe visualized, Jim put into action.

I know that the company was his foremost thought. Once, when my company had invited him to join us at a ski retreat he walked into the opening night dinner in his ski sweater, sat down, got a phone call, told us he had a company emergency, and left.  Never did see the slopes.

When Central opened an airport operation called Park One at LAX, Jim flew in to check the place out. He was left standing for 45 minutes at the curbside, waiting for his own shuttle to pick him up. History does not record what happened when he finally got to the location.

 

Through our brief interactions, I always found Jim to be professional, and a gentleman. Jim Bond added much to the parking industry.

John Van Horn

Editor, Parking Today

The following, taken from his obituary in the Tennessean:

Jim Bond, 41 year veteran of Central Parking, passed away in early August following a long illness. He was 72. Jim served in many capacities at Central, beginning as a Vice President in St Louis, MO and, prior to his retirement in 2012, President of the Company’s International Division.

James Hardy Bond was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 2, 1942. Jim attended the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1964. His business career began first as a design engineer with the Kentucky State Highway Department before being called into military service in 1967.

in 1971, Jim began a 41-year career with Central Parking System. His first ten years were as Regional Vice President, positioned in Saint Louis, MO. During this time, Central Parking System grew from operating in three cities to eleven. In 1981, he was appointed as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, which brought Jim and his family back to Nashville. The company experienced strong growth through the 1980s and he was named Central Parking’s President in 1990. By 1991, the company had expanded to 41 cities, including its first international operations at Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf in London, England. It was also during his time as President that Central Parking System purchased all of the operating contracts from Myers Parking System, which provided the company further expansion in the Northeast (New York City, Boston) and to the West Coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco).

By 1995, Central Parking became a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This access to capital resulted in a series of acquisitions culminating in the purchase of Allright Parking in 1999. This acquisition made Central Parking the largest company worldwide in the parking industry, operating 4,500 locations in 120 cities and 14 countries. In 2007, Central Parking was purchased by a private equity and subsequently merged with Standard Parking in 2012. Jim was widely respected in the parking industry by colleagues and competitors for his business knowledge, his sophisticated yet humble demeanor, and his incredible professionalism. He was a mentor and role-model to many. As testament of the lasting impact Jim made with Central Parking and the parking industry, Standard Parking has named its new Nashville operations support office in his honor.

Jim is survived by his wife, Gwen Bond; sons, Paul (Suzanne) Bond, Andrew (Libby) Bond and daughter, Emily Bond, all of whom loved him dearly and relied on his wisdom and guidance every day. He also leaves behind five grandchildren, Alex, Cooper, Lucy, Watts and Jake.

JVH

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When is a Monkey not a Monkey

Our Cover this month show a “monkey” parking a car. OK, photoshop is wonderful, it’s our fauna challenged art department and editorial staff that can’t tell the difference between a monkey and a chimpanzee. Apologies to Hominidae, or the “Great Apes.” That means you, too.

PT_08_14_ForWeb

You can see the entire issue by clicking here.

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Self-driving robotic automated parking system in use at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany

There are a lot of words in that headline, but when it comes to hot topics like “self driving” and “automated parking” there’s no use being coy. The system, called Ray, is a parking solution with a stylish twist. According to Extremetech.com, Ray’s maker, Serva Transoprt Systems, tried to make it attractive, as well as useful. Its streamlined profile can pack up to 60% more cars into the same parking area. Read the article and see the pictures here.

The user experience on Ray is seamless — just park your car in Ray’s little area, pay for parking, and walk away. The system performs a 3D scan of the vehicle, and Ray adjusts its tines and tires to perfectly slide beneath each car and lift it by the tires.

Ray is meant to fill a narrow niche serving the luxury parking market. It’s also a quick solution for almost any facility with the need and the cash because it can be put in use with little to no retrofit needed, reports Extreme.com.

For now, Ray is more expensive than valet, but decreases service time and comes with complete insurance. It’s also got a high tolerance for crowds, complicated garage floor plans and snobbish luxury-car owners.

 

 

 

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Cooptition — Never Heard of it — You Will!!!

Every so often I come across a term of which I am unfamiliar. Typically I nod sagely and then run to Google to see what’s what. In this case its

Cooptition: Cooperative competition. Practice where competitors work with each other on project-to-project, joint venture, or co-marketing basis.

I was on the phone today with a Venture Capital Firm discussing money that has been flowing into the new start ups in the parking industry. Cooptition came up a number of times. My contact felt that tech start ups in the parking business needed to be deeply involved in cooperative competition to enable them to thrive and grow.

Venture Capitalists, it seems, are “rising tide raises all boats” folks. As one company thrives, others in the same genre will thrive. Working together will only make that happen faster.

He believed that the parking business needs to see customers not as just cogs in a wheel, but to strive to make parking easy and as importantly, pleasurable. He said we need to answer questions like:

  • How can I bring customers more services?
  • How can I partner with other companies to success
  • Just what is ‘parking’ and what could it be?

We seem to have accepted that parking is a necessary evil. Drivers hate it but must use our services. So why do we need to anything more than provide space for a price.

Tech companies that are being supported by venture capitalists are providing services that will, they hope, provide answers to the above questions and make parking a pleasurable experience.  If we give drivers parking choices, make their actual experience a good one, and perhaps provide other services that they may want at the same time (wash, oil change, dry cleaners, coffee bar, valet services) they may be willing to pay more for the service.

Some garages make a run at these services, but fall down when it comes to communication with parkers. Technology is on the cusp of enabling vehicles to be in contact with their destinations and enabling drivers to partake of services that will make their experience easier.

These money guys believe that the companies that connect parking locations, drivers, and services will carry the industry in the nest few years.  The parking ecosystem, if you will, will grow and the typical horrible parking experience will be a thing of the past, and parkers will line up to pay for the more pleasurable parking space.

Companies who ‘stay the course’ and don’t look for a new experience in parking do so at their peril. We shall see.  In the meantime, Cooptition is the word.

JVH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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