Shocking: Melbourne Announces Plan that will Reduce Parking Income

I heard from a friend in Melbourne, Australia, that the city is installing a system of pay by cell phone. In addition to embracing the program completely the city government is sweetening the deal by telling the citizenry that they will receive a text on their phone when they are nearing the time limit they paid for. They can either ‘top up’ the meter from their phone or go move their car.

The Mayor has acknowledged that the program will cost the city upwards of a million a year in lost citation revenue but he said that the goal was to make the city more responsive to parkers, not penalize them.

Wow! What a refreshing approach. When city after city are trying to find ways to stick it to their constituents to raise money, hearing someone actually planning to make it easier for parkers NOT to get citations is stunning.

My contact tells me that promotions like this, led by a very popular mayor, has brought thousands of Aussies into the pay by cell fold and enabled the city to expand the program throughout its suburbs.  A nice spinoff has been that with so many people paying by cell, they don’t need as many pay and display machines so they are reallocating them to areas that has planned to add pay parking and not having to buy new machines. He expects that 20% more spaces can be handled by each machine.

Melbourne has a number of areas where angle parking is in the middle of the street. You park, and then have to hike to a P and D machine, then return to your car, all the while dodging traffic.  By making these areas pay by cell only, the city is increasing the safety of its parkers, another benefit of the system.

No wonder Melbourne has been named the most livable city on the planet.

JVH

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Phoenix Raises On Street Prices, Goes Variable

Joining a number of other cities including Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Phoenix has decided to jump on the Shoupista band wagon and institute demand based pricing.  It essentially raises prices during peak hours and when special events (sports, theaters, etc) take place.  Fair Enough.

However when you read the article, I found on Parknews.biz, I wasn’t too surprised. The only reason for the change was to help the city meet a budget shortfall. The change joins water bill hikes to increase the lucre in the city’s coffers.

There was not one word about how the new pricing may make more parking available, or how new meters will make it easier for the citizenry to pay.  Not a syllable about protecting the resource that is parking, or how the monies may help the city build infrastructure.

There was certainly nothing about cutting expenses in the Phoenix government. But then, politicians assume that their constituents know that they are working hard to save every penny. Right.

JVH

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s a Neat Solution for Disabled Space Cheats

As i was looking through Park News today an interesting article caught my eye. It was datelined Dubai:

A locally-made device will help Dubai Police crack down on illegal parking in the emirate.

The new device is fitted with a sensor, a video, a still camera, 3G internet and a warning device that will combine to issue fines to those who park illegally in disabled parking spaces.

The monitoring device, created by Dubai Police, will be installed at every disabled parking place in Dubai by the end of the year.

Each device will monitor one parking space. When a vehicle enters the space, the sensor detects it and starts beeping for 20 seconds. If the vehicle is still there after that time, the devices takes a picture and checks with the police database, via the 3G, if there is a valid parking permit for  disabled parking. If there is no permit, a fine is automatically issued.

Not too shabby. However I’m sure the development wasn’t cheap and putting one in each space could also be costly, but then, if you are mega rich and money means little, then it can work.

JVH

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Under overpass parking eliminated in Birmingham

In Birmingham, Alabama near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, some 700 parking spots are about to be eliminated. According to Al.com the Alabama Department of Transportation has mandated that the parking lot under Interstate 20/59 be closed due to safety issues.

Apparently, the freeway is carrying twice the weight its structure was designed for and is showing serious signs of wear. Birmingham leaders were caught off guard by the announcement.

“Of course, we knew this was to be an eventuality with the rebuilding and repair of the corridor bridges, but we were not prepared for the sudden closure, due to extenuating safety hazards,” said Councilwoman Kim Rafferty. “It is not a decision I argue with but the city administration, the BJCC, the council transportation committee, ALDOT, and other interested parties should have been called to a joint meeting to begin work on mitigating the loss of the 700 parking spaces.”

Maybe a combination of disorganization, politics and complicated schedules have complicated the decision making in this situation, but I say, if the department of transportation tells you it’s not safe to park under a freeway, go ahead and believe them. Everyone seems to be doing all they can to handle the unexpected change in plans.

BJCC Executive Director Tad Snider said his facility would work to find alternative parking and let customers know the locations. Snider said the BJCC would immediately begin a process to inform customers of the change. Signage and social media are all tools that will be used, he said.

Click here to read the article.

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Theft is a Wake Up Call

Some people take the concept of “profit sharing” into their own hands. An employee is believed to have stolen $336 from a Jeanette, Pennsylvania city lot that only recently began charging for parking. That’s not a lot of money, but any theft shows your revenue control systems are failing. According to triblive.com:

The employee raised suspicion by giving “at least three conflicting stories” about the money’s disappearance, Mayor Richard Jacobelli said.

Jeanette’s petty parking lot thief said the office safe wasn’t secure so he put the money in his backpack to protect it and then he walked through the most dangerous part of town where the money was stolen from him. Somewhere along the way he attended a funeral. The matter has been turned over to police. Triblive.com reports that this is not the first time the city has suffered for its weak approach to auditing:

A 2012 audit revealed the city lacked internal controls and used a sloppy accounting system that raised the risk of errors and fraud. It allowed employees to withdraw cash without prior approval, opening the way for potential theft, according to auditors.

Earlier this year, a contractor was sentenced to probation for keeping $65,000 from the city in 2005 for a recreation building that was never delivered.

Let’s hope Jeannette officials realize there are many ways they can protect their money and start implementing those methods soon. Click here to read the article.

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An Adventure In Parking

There’s a lot of parking news out there – and even a special place for the best of it to be gathered at ParkNews.biz. Between all the technical and legal stuff I found this particular piece and it is highly entertaining.

William O’Reilly writes for Newsday a humorous account of paying $662 to park for a day in the Big Apple. Having lived there, I can picture the scene with detail. He describes a scenario so completely over the top, yet so typical of the real parking environment in NY, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Pedestrian New York, where I lived for 35 years, is a conveyor belt of conveniences. Vehicle New York is Hades. It’s smash-your-head-into-your-own-steering-wheel awful, and it seems to be getting worse by the day.

The truth is, New York City doesn’t want you to have a car. That’s why is full of taxis and connected by a hundred subway tunnels. But if you dare drive there, be prepared to pay like Mr. O’Reilly.

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Our New Baby

It appears we have a hit. The buzz at the IPI that our ParkNews.biz site is a hit. We are walking about with business cards with the URL and people are saying “Yes, I saw the ‘new baby’ promo and love the new site.  Great parking news, every day>”

And considering its only been up two weeks, and we are getting upwards of 750 views a day already, our baby is growing fast.  I’m certainly impressed.

There are still a few glitches but Astrid, Kelley and Suda are on them every day.  If you have news releases, new products, links to articles you think would be good for the site, send them in.  We are really easy.

We post about 15 to 20 new links a day to current news. Keep up with your industry. Visit www.parknews.biz every day. Give our new baby a test drive.  We think you will like it.

JVH

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It is Worth the Cost to Exhibit at these Shows

I don’t know if you understand what it costs to exhibit at shows like the IPI, NPA, and PIE but its a lot. Let me give you some scale:

For our booth, the real  estate, what we pay the IPI, is about $3000. I don’t begrudge them a penny. I know what putting on these events cost.  But that’s only the beginning.  Then we have $2000 for inbound shipping (from the loading dock to our booth) and two chairs, a table, and the carpet.  Then you can add about $1500 for the display. But we aren’t finished yet.  We bring 3 people at a cost of $1000 each for air fare, hotels, and perdiem. That’s $11,000 for about 11 hours of show time. Yes, $1000 and hour. And we are small potatoes.

Consider one of the big revenue control companies with the two story booths covering 1200 square feet. They bring 20 to 30 personnel, and the cost to get their booth from the loading dock exceeds the budget of some small countries. I’ve seen show budgets that exceed $200,000.

These numbers boggle the mind.  My question is whether or not they actually get value received.  If we believe my friend in the last blog post, they miss sales that simply walk by.

I”m told that the investment is often in current customers. The huge booth and after parties give companies a chance to meet existing customers and thank them for their custom. Fair enough. As long as you know that’s what you are doing. I sometimes wonder, however, if a visit, every couple of years, by a CEO accompanied by the local salesman, with a nice dinner where issues could be discussed, might do more. But then what do I know.

These are successful companies, investing their profits where they feel it will do the most good. More power to them. It does mean that the parking industry is beginning to mature. It can mount a trade event that rivals the big shows in Vegas and Europe. That means something. I guess.

It seems to me that their must be a happy medium between doing nothing, and spending upwards of a quarter of a million on a trade show. I guess I don’t know what that is.

JVH

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Do Big Exhibitors do themselves a disservice at Shows like the IPI

We all know that the numbers (attendee, exhibitor personnel, etc) at trade shows are mostly unknowable. The information we get from the organizers is sketchy, but one thing is certain, there are almost one and a half times as many exhibitor personnel at this IPI event as there are actual attendees. Yes, out of 2500 people at the IPI last year, 1500 or so were exhibitor personnel.  But so what.

There are still 1000 people in attendance that are potential customers.  Are the exhibitors reaching them?  They have spent tens if not hundreds of thousands on their booths and personnel, do they actually see new customers in any appreciable numbers. I say not.

I had a most interesting conversation with an attendee last night. She runs the parking at a medium size city and had well over a million dollars in her pocket to spend on new equipment. She came to the show specifically to learn about what’s out there.  She is an exhibitor’s dream come true.

She told me, however, that she was reluctant to enter those huge booths. She found the size off putting and the fact that the booth staff were all dressed the same.  “They seemed to be wearing armor” she told me.  They weren’t welcoming at all.

Plus, and now I’m paraphrasing, they stood in clusters, talking to themselves, and made it difficult for her, a small woman, to get their attention. She just walked on by.

Wow, a million and change just walking on by.

I had an experience at PIE this year.  An exhibitor was berating me that no one came into his booth. He was sitting reading the newspaper as he complained.  During his diatribe, at least 20 people walked by, paused, and then went on.  I told him I could get them in front of his booth, it was up to him to get them in.

In the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the Judi Dench character was hired as a consultant at an Indian call center to train the staff how to talk to British. She described the problems she had dealing with the center and gave them hints on how to better serve their customers.  I told my friend last night that I thought she could make big bucks consulting with exhibitors  who spent so much money and got so little in return.

I”m rearranging our booth today. I’m moving the table to the back and putting the chairs in front. We are going to welcome people into our little stand and talk to them, not to ourselves.  I’m ordering a couple of more chairs so people can sit, take a load off.

We laugh at PIE that we are a boutique show with small intimate booths where you can actually talk to people and get good information. The info you need isn’t cluttered with marketing chatter and as I like to say, “elephants and dancing girls.”

These major events claim that they are for learning and networking, and then put on networking events (and vendors are guilty of this too) that are so crowded and noisy that its impossible to actually talk and network.

Make your booth welcoming. Give visitors a soft drink and a place to sit and talk. Ask about their problems, don’t deluge them with your solutions. Find out if your product is something they need. You can actually do that in the first two minutes.  If not, let them go.

Send your smarmy sales staff to school to learn social graces. Face outward. Stand in the aisles and welcome people into your huge booth. Don’t make attendees seek you out, seek them out, casually and with reality. If I hear “Hi John, how are you today” one more time I’m going to scream.

The IPI is almost over, only two sessions left to go. You spent upwards of a quarter of a million on your booth. Make it count.

JVH

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An education in parking near schools

Schools are notorious for creating parking issues. Whether it’s an elementary school, high school trade school or university, the parking situation is going to be cyclical and crowded. For the people who live near schools, this is, at the very least, an inconvenience. For others, it’s a source of constant frustration.

A Chicago-area resident is unhappy with the parking situation near his home, because, he says, students at a nearby high school fill the streets and make it difficult for emergency vehicles to reach him and his neighbors. He says, in a letter to the city council, according to Post-Tribune.com:

“There are times when the street is so crowded with vehicles that an ambulance and/or fire truck would not be able to enter the street,” he wrote. “Is the 6500 block of Birch Ave. zoned as a school parking lot?”

While I sympathize with the man, and have no idea whether he is a homeowner or renter, complaining about school parking when you live near a school is like celebrities griping about paparazzi. He seems to understand this fact, as well, and knows there will be no changes made to parking regulations on his street. He offers this suggestion to the city:

“I suggest the Gary Common Council pass an ordinance for prospective buyers and renters that informs them that if you live near a school, the street where you reside is the school parking lot. It is important for the potential residents to know that they will be unable to park on their street, nor will friends, relatives or medical professionals who visit,” he wrote. “And STUDENTS and employees of the school do not have to obey Indiana laws for parking around stop signs. However, if you would like to volunteer to help pick up empty pop cans, McDonald’s coffee cups and bags, candy wrappers and snack bags left by STUDENTS and employees, you are welcome to do so.”

I like this idea and think it completely fair. People who live near schools or who are considering living near a school, should be warned. And schools should participate in making sure their parking needs are met in a way that shows respect and consideration for the surrounding neighborhoods.

To read the article, click here.

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