Truckers Need Parking, Too

Every once in awhile, an untapped market rears its head. According to ozarksfirst.com, Arkansas truckers are complaining that they don’t have enough parking. The truckers are required to rest for 10 hours to every 11 they drive, but some say they have to stop driving before their 11-hour limit is up or they will end up with nowhere to park. This puts them in a difficult position: do they follow regulations, or make their delivery on time?

Truckers make their money when they’re rolling on the road, so many would like to be able to run until their hours actually expire. But that comes with a risk.

“Truck stops are filled up by 6:30 or 7 o’clock at night,” Ralph Puckett said. “If you aren’t there by then, you’re going to find yourself out of luck. I’m not going to stop at 7:00 to go to sleep,” he said.

What I’m wondering is, where are the high-service truck stops? I’m not talking about 5-star accommodations, just something with more amenities than a snack bar and a shower. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s no money in catering to truckers, but if they are looking for parking, food and a break, that’s a lot of business somebody could profit from.

“They’re required to take mandatory breaks. They need to get to a safe spot off the roadway,” said Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton. “They need to be able to get off the roads and get the rest they need, to keep themselves and other drivers safe.”

So, a safe spot with decent food, showers and a massage chair? Maybe a place to play cards or read a book? A ping pong table? This is definitely an under-served demographic.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Dallas Parking Meter/Enforcement Bid Posted

The Bid for the Parking Meter/Enforcement for the city of Dallas is now available for viewing on line:

https://bids.dallascityhall.com

Click on All Announcements
Click on Public Access
Search for RFI: BKZ1521

RFI-Parking

The conference call is setup for Wednesday, May 6th.

Questions should be directed to :

douglas.shelton@dallascityhall.com

JVH

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Parktoria (Aparc) Files for Bankrupcy

Parking Today has received notice that Parktoria Technologies, LLC, is filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection. The company was formerly named Aparc Systems.  This will most likely mean the liquidation of the company.

According to a news release in 2013, Aparc was founded in 2006 by parking industry veteran Robert Ziola (Chief Executive Officer) and was headquartered in Vancouver, BC. Aparc provides software for parking and enforcement systems in the private and commercial sectors. Aparc’s solutions provide North American and international customers with increased revenue, cost savings, enhanced security and services, and intelligence on parking and traffic patterns. Aparc provides these benefits by means of a variety of product offerings through proprietary technology and its relationships with key hardware and software partners such as Motorola and Siemens.

Aparc, who called itself a systems integrator, parking management, and enforcement technology company, announced on March 15, 2013 that it had partnered with Kayne Partners, the growth private equity group of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P. Kayne Partners was providing Aparc with growth capital. The proceeds of the investment were to be used to expand the roll-out and reach of Aparc’s innovative parking solutions.

According to sources close to the situation, Aparc was having some difficulty with a number of installations and in late 2013/early 2014 reorganized under the “Parktoria” Brand. In August 2013 Ziola moved to Chairman of the Board and Chief Strategic Officer, and in January 2014 his title changed to Founder and Chairman of the Board. Tom Holmes became CEO in September of 2014.  A number of senior management changes were made at the company prior to the bankruptcy filing on April 20, 2015.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is normally for companies that are in or will be in liquidation.

Parktoria management did not return PT’s request for comment.

 

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How Many Trade Shows is Enough — 3, 5, 10, 20?

During or after each national parking show, there is a traditional event.  A few of the exhibitors get together and grouse and complain about the fact that there are too many shows. When there were only two, NPA and IPI the complaint was that there should be only one, and the two organizations should combine and have one giant show.

Most often, the organizers of the ‘one show’ cabal are salespersons for vendors who don’t want to work the booths and put up with the stress of a major trade event. This was true at PIE in Chicago. After I brought out the fire hoses and rubber bullets and put down the insurrection, I got to thinking…just how many shows is the ‘right’ number.

It really depends on what the exhibitor is trying to accomplish. If they are simply going to the event to show their competitors that they can mount a nice booth and be sure everyone knows they are still in business, then one show is enough. However if they are trying to reach the greatest number of potential customers, I’m not so sure.

When you compare the events in Europe to those in the US, the numbers are staggering. More than 12,000 people attended the Traffex/Parkex event in the UK last week. More than 22,000 attend Intertraffic in Amsterdam every other year. Why? The main reason is geographic. The UK is about the size of California and has excellent rail coverage. Western Europe could fit east of the Mississippi river and also has super and cheap rail and air connections. People can easily hop in for a day or two and not spend a fortune. In the US its not quite the same.

It takes five or six hours and $500 bucks to fly from the west coast to say Florida. And you have to commit at least three or four days. Hotels aren’t cheap. Budgets are stressed. To get to the Traffex show in Birmingham from London takes about $40 and an hour on the train.  You can go home the same day. Attending a trade show in Miami if you are in California is a big deal. Dropping in to Intertraffic is an afterthought.

If we posit that a different group of people attend each event and you see about what 500 or so potential customers at the NPA and double that at the IPI and this year nearly 700 at PIE, (all numbers are taking away exhibitor personnel).  So that means that with the three shows vendors are exposed to about 2200 potential customers.

We know that there are more than 30,000 potential parking customers in the US (public and private sector, university and city, operators, developers, airports and shopping centers, etc). So why do the different events attract so few attendees? And since they are so few, why do vendors go to the shows at all.

First, they are really cheap. If you consider that out of the 750 that showed up at PIE, maybe 200 are your potential customers, you are making 200 sales calls at $50 each. (Assuming the total costs to the average vendor is $10,000.) There is no where else on the planet you can get exposure to possible customers that cheap.

But hold on, JVH, I didn’t get 200 people in my booth. Hey, sez I, I can get them into the hall, the rest is up to you.

Second, coming to the show forces you to look at your marketing program and get your act together. Often companies use the shows to showcase new products, or start new campaigns or programs. Without them, many, particularly smaller company’s marketing, would simply stagnate.

Finally, people who come to these shows are senior level staff. If not the ones who sign the purchase orders, they certainly are the ones who recommend. Companies and organizations don’t send staff assistants to trade shows. These people are geared up to learn, and to buy.

When one exhibitor was approached by the “only one show” crowd, he responded that actually he wanted more shows.  It gave him an opportunity to show off his product, and easily meet face to face with customers who could help him with product evolution. “So how many,” I asked.

At least five, he said. If the IPI is in Las Vegas, and the NPA is in Florida, and PIE is in Chicago, then two more are needed.  One in the Northeast and one in the Southwest. It would give parking pros in those regions an opportunity to attend a major parking event without busting their transportation budget and their schedules wouldn’t be cluttered with weeks away from their organizations.  They could attend for two days, see what there was to see, and be back on the job.

The US is large enough to support these five events,  he went on. Each region is roughly the size of the UK.  Thousands of people who are interested in parking will have the opportunity to attend events they otherwise would not. Having a good training and informational program, high end speakers, networking, and a good exhibit floor would attract folks that cannot afford the time or money to go to one of the existing shows.

At this point the “one show” group was hyperventilating. My God, Five Shows. Are you nuts?

“No,” said my friend. ” I want to sell my product in the best way possible. The industry isn’t large enough to put on a major event like the Consumer Electronic Show or the World of Concrete in Las Vegas. Those draw 50 or 100 thousand people. The IPI and NPA focus on their membership and thus limit the size of their events.  PIE is attractive to those who aren’t members, but once again, it draws much of its attendance from what, a 5 hour drive from Chicago. Two more events like PIE strategically located would attract…”

He was shouted down by the “one show” group. They were thinking about cost, time involved, the amount of work they would have to put in. They wanted to make their lives easier. He wanted to sell his product in as many markets as he could and his experience was that the trade events like PIE, the NPA and IPI enabled him to do that.

Whatcha think?

JVH

 

 

 

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CBS LA Goes After Handicapped Fraud

Handicapped placard fraud is going on everywhere and all the time, but enforcement is only sporadic at best. According to losangeles.cbslocal.com, a recent CBSLA investigation showed scammers are actually selling handicapped placards on Craigslist. The sting showed that some of these placards are stolen, others are possibly obtained through connections at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation estimates it loses $6 million a year because of disabled placard abuse.

I know handicapped parking is an important issue in our country – it’s important, but not urgent. It’s something that gets a lot of attention for the ways it fails, but not for the ways it might work better.

The only place I go where handicapped parking is used to capacity is Costco. Don’t ask me why, but there are probably 15 to 20 handicapped spaces that are always full. Maybe half of those are cheaters, but it’s not like that anywhere else. At the mall or the school or the grocery store, there are always empty handicapped parking spots.

I’m curious what would happen if there were fewer handicapped parking spots. Would the scarcity make them a less desirable target for liars and thieves, or would it have the opposite effect? Maybe if there were fewer prime parking spots going unused, people would be less interested in them. I’m sure there are rules, regulations and formulas regarding handicapped parking that I don’t understand, but it never hurts to ask questions.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Credit Card Capabilities Double Revenue in Minneapolis

According to vita.mn, Minneapolis has doubled its meter revenue since the implementation of credit card capable meters in 2010. Profits have gone from $4.6 million to $8.7 million. This is good news on several levels, report city officials, because the increase in revenue from credit card payments offsets a decrease in other areas.

Credit card payments make more money; credit card fees affect that total negatively. Making the meters more accessible has also decreased revenue from parking tickets. On the positive end:

Other factors impacting revenues include the ability to vary meter rates for events, adding more meters and payments from carsharing companies, said Jon Wertjes, the city’s director of traffic and parking services.

City leaders aren’t ready to stop making improvements. They’re also planning to implement pay-by-phone capabilities this year. Profits go back to the parking department.

The money is funneled into the city’s municipal parking fund, which largely pays for operations and debt service on city-owned parking ramps.

Kudos to Minneapolis for taking advantage of technology to improve its parking scene. Making things simple for the user is a great idea that pays off.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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Old Traditions Die Hard

One of the oldest and most often used tactics in sales is to employ a woman in a bikini. A short skirt will do just as well. It’s safe to say we’ve reached a place in history where this gimmick is transparent. In Queensland, Australia, local authorities think it’s not only transparent, but trashy, and want to eliminate a longstanding program that puts bikini-clad meter maids on the streets in a prime tourist area, according to the dailymail.co.uk

Started in 1965, Meter Maids were the brainchild of Gold Coast developer Bernie Elsey who introduced the initiative to stave off the bad publicity associated with newly installed parking meters. The controversial move involved young women dressed in gold bikinis walking the main tourist strip and placing money into expired meters.

Members of the city’s chamber of commerce say the Maids have turned into a business that mainly sells branded merchandise to tourists, but don’t really support parking services. The Meter Maids operators see the group as an asset to the community, as well as a beloved tradition.

Mr. (Michael) Yarwood, (general manager of Surfers Paradise Meter Maids) said Meter Maids were the “underutilised resource” to help revamp the region. “Meter Maids invoke in most people that wonderful memory of that beachside holiday Surfers Paradise,” he said.

Not all traditions need to be upheld. Many need to be examined in the light of the realities of the present, not the past. What was an acceptable tradition in 1950 isn’t necessarily appropriate in 2015.

Read the article here.

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Multitasking Parking

In Denver, Colorado, a company called Flight Car is striking up an interesting bargain with its customers. They can park for free if Flight Car can rent out their vehicles while they’re away. According to 9news.com:

Flight Car offers customers a free place to park while they travel, and a ride to and from the airport as long as the customer is willing to allow the company to rent the car at a discounted price to one of its users. If the car is rented out, the owner gets paid, usually around $30 to $40, according to the company. Flight Car will also wash the vehicle and vacuum it out. If the car isn’t rented out, the owner still gets a free place to park and a car cleaning.

It’s a fascinating twist on paid parking AND car rental policies. Of course, not every customer is going to want to make this bargain, but it’s an interesting option for those who do. I think that regular car rental agencies and parking providers need to be aware of this new business. It’s an opportunity for them too, if they want to take it.

The sharing economy is only expanding. Millenials especially have a diminished attachment to traditional modes of operation – whether that’s transportation or communication or acquisition. They are less attached to the idea of ownership than older generations. Its a trend that’s evolving and growing and businesses of all sizes will want to adapt.

Read the article here.

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Cheaters Sometimes Prosper

In the wealthy town of Aspen, Colorado there are still people who find themselves short of money. So short, in fact, they found a way to cheat parking meters so they could get parking for free. They had lots of friends who were also low on cash, so they told their friends how to fool city parking meters – by swiping maxed-out pre-paid debit cards. Those friends told their friends, and since 2012, city officials estimate they have lost $700,000 in parking revenue, reports www.coloradoindependent.com.

“They just elected to find a loophole and abuse the system,” said Blake Fitch who took over as interim parking director for Aspen when the previous director was transferred to ice-rink duty after the extent of the scam came to light last fall.

The city of Aspen has several options for addressing this widespread dishonesty. One approach could be to double parking fees until the loss is regained. But that doesn’t seem fair for the many honest people who didn’t join in on the heist. Furthermore, the article reports that investigators have narrowed down the profile of the alleged parking thieves.

The Colorado Independent Consultants Network, which has become Aspen’s hired gun on the parking matter, has determined by studying patterns in the scam that the parking thieves were likely local working stiffs rather than the tony ski town’s wealthy visitors and second-home residents. That conclusion is based on the fact that the pay stations that were ripped off the most were in parts of downtown where construction projects were under way. Besides, the thefts didn’t increase during peak seasons when Aspen is jammed with visitors.

A very long paper trail and the expensive costs of new meters  and independent investigations is only adding to the financial pain this is causing the city. If the city’s hopes to penalize the guilty parties does not pan out, it might just have to recognize its own part in the situation: flawed technology and poor oversight.

People commit this kind of dishonesty because it’s anonymous. They are not stealing from anyone, they are just tricking a parking meter – a faceless, lifeless parking meter that won’t know any better or be hurt in any way. Putting a face on the injured party – namely, the city and its residents – might improve the outcome.

Read the rest of the article here.

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I’m surprised that they get you there at all

Kevin Williamson, National Review’s roving reporter takes off on the airlines in his recent piece Unholy Alliances.  You can read it yourself. Suffice it to say, he isn’t a fan of our air transportation system.

On the other hand, I am amazed that the airlines work at all.  Consider:

They have to buy huge machines that cost upwards of $100 million each.  These machines have a million parts anyone of which fails, and hundreds of people die.  Each of the airlines have hundreds (some thousands) of these machines which must be in certain places, at certain times, and work without fail. And on balance, they do.

They have tens of thousands of employees who must to their jobs unerringly, dealing with the public, many of whom, like Williamson, expect perfect service and leave little room for error. By the way, at any given moment in the US, there are over 4000 flights in the air.

I normally fly Delta.  There is history there but suffice it to say that the airline has been good to me.

On my last trip, I was scheduled to fly out of Chicago through Minneapolis to Los Angeles.  If you want to go to Atlanta, there are a bunch of flights each day to and from LA, or to Minneapolis, or Detroit, or Salt Lake City, or Cincinnati. However, Chicago, not so much.  But I don’t mind. They have wifi on every flight and I can get a lot of work done

I was at the airport early and the agent told me he could route me through Detroit and get me home three hours earlier.  Great — He took my bag and I was on my way. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the Club Room I was told that my Detroit flight was late and I would miss my LA bound flight. However, the agent in the club room told me she would fix it and send me through Atlanta.  I was standby on an early flight out of Atlanta, and booked on one an hour later. In either case I would be home early. Go Delta.

But what about my bag. “No Problems” she said. They would find it and reroute it to Atlanta and put it on the first flight. If I missed that flight, it would be in LA before me.

Right, I said. No way that was going to happen. She was confident. “They are pretty good down their in baggage handling. Now what does your bag look like?”

I was resolved that I would get my bag some time the next day, if at all.  I made the earlier flight out of Atlanta and when I got to LA, I went to a computer terminal in baggage claim and waved my baggage tag in front of it. The display said that my bag had been logged on the the flight from Atlanta and when I looked up, it was the first one coming off the carousel.

The system worked.  Understand that I would not have been disappointed if it had not, since I didn’t expect it to, however the more often it works, the more faith I have in the airline.

Sorry, I don’t want to fly in a broken plane into bad weather.  If it needs to be fixed, have at it. If there are thunderstorms, fly around them. I know that Chicago is not good in snowstorms and that many airports in the Midwest and south slow down in the summer due to thunderstorms. I know that and I allow for it.

Are some airlines better than others. Of course. It has to do with mission and attitude. If the mission is to be profitable, then they will be. If the mission is to treat their customers with respect and dignity, then they will, and be profitable too.

I’m off to Boston and then the UK in a couple of days. Lots of different flights, plane changes, and the like. However I have time to spare and if things go wrong, a good book to read.

Sorry Kevin, airlines aren’t perfect,  but most work better than you should be able to expect.

JVH

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