Heavy Snowfall Creates Financial Windfall for DC

Last week’s blizzard earned Washington, D.C. $1,369,750 in parking ticket fines, reports nbcwashington.com. Residents who parked in emergency snow routes were ticketed, towed and/or impounded. Tickets handed out on Friday, January 22 were later rescinded because city leaders were concerned some people might not have understood the rules or were too occupied in preparations for the storm to move their cars. That move brought the total down to around $600,000.

“Don’t park your car illegally, and that includes parking it kind of in the middle of the street next to the snow bank,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday. Cars should be parked no more than 12 inches from a curb, not a snow bank, or drivers risk a ticket, she said.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and it seems to me that Washington, D.C. is justified in enforcing strict parking requirements during one of its worst storms ever. That doesn’t change the fact that residents experiencing severe weather are going to expect leniency – not tickets. It’s an interesting conundrum.

Having seen what delayed snow removal does to the roads, I say hand out those tickets to anyone and everyone. They won’t like the fines, but they won’t like impassable roads either.

Read the article here.

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PIE Registration Ahead of Last Year’s Record

The Registrations for PIE 2016 in Las Vegas is running ahead of the record 1086 attendees for four weeks ahead of opening day. Eric tells me its time to cut down on my consumption of adult beverages and relax, that attendees are signing up in droves.

People in the trade show business know its a fact. Attendees make up their minds to come early, but actually sign up at the last minute. This causes huge problems for the organizers as they don’t know how to prepare, how much food to order, how many chairs to put in the seminar rooms. But it is a fact of life in the expo biz.

We are extremely happy with the current results. It shows that PIE 2016 will be, as advertised, the largest and best attended PIE in history. Sign up now and get your room.– the room block with the guaranteed low rate of $114 ends next Wednesday. Go to pieshow.parkingtoday.com to register.



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Dallas Needs More/Less Parking

Dallas has the same problems as many other big cities: too much parking and too little parking. According to D Magazine, there are 69,000 parking spots in Dallas, and some people think there should be more. But research from the State Smart Transportation Initiative in Madison, Wisconsin, and the University of Connecticut, suggests that it is limited parking, not plentiful parking, that makes a city successful.

D Magazine’s opinion writer, Peter Simek, says the city’s parking and driving culture don’t currently support that research.

Dallas begins with the assumption that everyone has to drive everywhere because this is Dallas, and as a result we cater to a market that will always be hungry for more available parking.

Every city has its reality, regardless of the true need for more parking or less parking. New York City has a comprehensive public transit system, so it’s easy to emphasize that convenience over creating parking spaces. Washington D.C., while completely landlocked, is also working on the “less is more” approach. Dallas is neither landlocked nor in possession of adequate public transportation, so the argument is more complicated. There is room for more parking and there are cars to put in those spaces whose owners don’t have other options for transportation. Simek suggests it’s a matter of attitude.

We have to accept that limiting park is a good thing, that it can increase economic viability, and that it is the only way to break the cycle of cause and effect that drives Dallas’ persistently car-centric approach to urban revitalization.

Asking Texans to give up their “car-centric” approach is a brave and interesting tactic. What seems more concrete to me would be addressing the convenience and location of current parking resources. Maybe there is some rearranging that would solve the problem. Maybe they have exactly what they need already

Read the article here.





Read the article here.

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Tradition vs. Good Business Sense

Its official. The are beginning to charge for parking at the hotels in Las Vegas. Another tradition bites the dust.

It was so great — you drove up in front of the hotel, tossed your keys to the valet, and they parked your car. You were treated like Royalty.  It was a little thing, but a good one. Las Vegas always led the pack with service. There was free drinks at the tables, buffets that stopped traffic, and free self and valet parking.

I always went to Sin City with the idea that gambling was rather like going to a show. You invested a certain amount of money, had a good time, and probably lost the money, like the price of the ticket to see an Elvis impersonator. That way, you never felt bad when you lost. And just maybe, you would win. (yeah right).

But when you left, a tad poorer than when you arrive, you handed your ticket to the valet and there it came, your car was delivered, free,  right to where you were standing. That felt good, and took out some of the sting when you split 10s.

But no more.  Good business sense has taken over. The MGM hotel chain which owns a dozen of the casinos dotting the Vegas Strip, including the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay has decided that it will charge $10 a day for self parking, more for valet. So who gets hit the most. Yes, those of us from LA who drive across the beautiful desert to visit.

Why? Money, that’s why. Seems the days when all the profits in the hotel trade in Las Vegas came from the gaming tables is gone. In fact, less than half now comes from craps, slots, and blackjack. The rest is from food, hotel rooms, and entertainment…. and soon parking.

Do the numbers.  MGM Resorts alone has over 37,000 spaces on the strip and assuming only half of them are full each night, that would generate $67.5 million a year. That not chump change, even in Vegas. How long will it take the others to jump on board.

So the decision was made. some lucky PARCS company will get a dozen large systems on this go alone. Will MGM be a little sneaky and divide up the systems into two or three parts. Thus motivating the companies to do their best to keep the deal? It worked at Schipol airport in Amsterdam, why not here.

But I digress. Its been tradition that some of the amenities were ‘free’ in Las Vegas. You might not be able to be ‘comped’ for your room, but your car got a place to park. Not any more. Its sad, but then, that’s how business is done.


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Missoula’s, MT new parking meters pose difficulties for handicapped patrons…NOT!!!

When I read the headline that we picked up from the local paper on parknews.biz, I scratched my head. I didn’t think that new meters would cause problems. I was right.

Its almost like the people that write the headlines don’t read the article. The headline above, which refer’s to the new T2 Luke machines installed in the Montana city, is extremely misleading. (I added the “NOT!!!”)

The article points out that handicapped parkers were surprised when they found they had to pay for parking, certainly not something having to do with the Pay by License plate equipment.  It also seems that there was some confusion as how to add time, once again not a problem with the equipment but with the city and its communications.

It also seems that the problems the handicapped were having was no different than the problems with existing meters (difficulty holding on to coin and placing it in the meter).

There is one area that needs to be explored, that is the use of pay by cell in Missoula, and I think that’s underway. The pay by cell would enable the disabled to use their phone to pay and that will alleviate any issues, but once again this is not a problem with the ‘new parking meters’.

I do wish editors would read their headlines as well as their articles before OKing the piece for print. The headlines can give a very different meaning to the article and so often readers stop reading when the type goes to 9 point from 24 point.



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Odd and Even — Will it work in Delhi

Here’s the deal.  Delhi is one of the most congested and polluted cities on the planet. In order to take some drastic action, its government decided to do a 15 day trial of allowing only drivers with odd ending license plates drive on odd days and even on even days. How did it go?

Some things looked up:  Pollution levels were down, although still at an ‘unsafe’ level and traffic was lighter.

However  On day one, false license plates were available. Either a complete plate, or just one number to change the last number. They were selling like hotcakes. (Note: In many countries, including India, license plates are not provided by the government, but are manufactured by private firms on the request of the motorist. They are supposed to provide official documents when the plates are ordered.) Parking facility operators demanded that the city reimburse them for lost revenue.

In addition, drivers were offering rides to those who couldn’t drive on a particular day, but were charging very high rates to take people into town. Taxi rates were also increased.

There was one interesting question — is “0” odd or even. It seems obvious but people need to be given that information up front.

One comment from the local press was that the city was trying to institute rules when most drivers don’t follow the existing ones. This appears to be a major enforcement and cultural issue.

The “odd-even” has worked in some cities including Beijing, Paris, and many cities in Latin America. In most of them, compliance levels has been high since people saw the need and a positive result. Plus there was a high level of public transportation available.

Emerging economies are caught in a double bind. They are growing rapidly and the rapid growth often equals pollution.  Coal based power plants are cheapest and work. But regulations don’t require the least polluting be built. The same is true of automobiles, two cycle engines that mix oil and gas, and trucks. The infrastructure isn’t built for the crush of autos that take to the road as the standard of living is increased.

Stopping the development in its tracks isn’t politically popular or desirable, but the resulting air and water pollution is destroying the population.

During the industrial revolution, cities like London were unlivable. It took killer fogs to cause the changes that were necessary (reducing the use of soft coal, for instance) to clean the air.

Cities like Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing, Mexico City, Bangkok, and others will have to shortly make hard decisions. “Odd-Even” is one way to begin, but its not the end all solution. These cities and the countries that surround them will, as their population grows more successful (read that richer) begin to find ways to cut their pollution without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

It took the England 150 years to get to the point where they were forced to clean up their act, these countries will move quicker.  They will make decisions on their own, in their best interest.

Just as the free market is made up of millions of tiny decisions made every day at the lowest level, environmental clean up will be done the same way. The Chinese, Indians, Mexicans and Thais are smart and wise. They will fix the problem. The best thing we can do is offer help when asked and otherwise bug out.



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No More Free Parking in Vegas

My first visit to Las Vegas was part of a family trip to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at Circus Circus for the all-you-can-eat breakfast, and I caught my first sight of a casino floor. My parents were decidedly against gambling and let me know that if I wanted to do something charitable with my money, I should not donate it to the “poor, starving casinos fund.” I never unlearned that lesson, but I like Las Vegas any way. It’s a giant, crazy, over-the-top  carnival for adults. (The Parking Today’s tradeshow and exhibition is happening there in a few weeks.)

The news from Las Vegas is that MGM Resorts is going to start charging for parking at its casinos. It’s a move that David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV, says could be a “historic shift.”

Parking garages in Las Vegas are cavernous. There are thousands of thousands of stalls for tourists who never stop coming. But how are they going to feel about paying for parking after years of enjoying one of Vegas’s best perks? What will they think about a company that’s going to take their money on the tables and at the slots, but still expects them to fork out for garage time?

It sounds like MGM doesn’t have much to worry about. According to the Los Angeles Times:

What happened? To put it simply, competition disappeared. MGM owns a dozen casino hotels on the Strip, clustered at the south end around Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. Caesars Entertainment, the other mega-corporation on the Strip, owns nine, clustered around mid-Strip. Caesars has been coy about whether it will follow MGM on parking fees.

It remains to be seen how casino-goers will react to the change. If it works for MGM, it’s likely Caesars and the rest will follow suit.

Read the article here.


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Parking Causes Driving

A paper presented at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington DC this week concludes that as parking availability either at the destination or the origin of a trip increases, so does driving. You can read about it here. Of course if you followed parknews.biz  you would already know all this.

It seems that if people are forced to park on street and live in an area where there is a lot of business parking, they tend not to drive because they will lose their parking space. Likewise if there is parking available at work, they tend to drive rather than take other means of transport.

It seems to me that there was a book written about all this a few years ago. Don Shoup call your office.

I don’t see that this is something that requires a world class study. It seems that thoughtful people won’t drive their cars where there is no place to park it (or its too expensive) and they also won’t move their car if they are afraid they will lose their space when they return.

The author of the article referenced above said her family does not drive anywhere on Friday or Saturday because they will lose the space on street near their apartment, because those nights drivers visiting nearby clubs and restaurants take the spaces. The article I quoted in an earlier blog about driving in China noted that one driver commented that he always returned home before 4 PM because the complex where he lived had only 200 spaces for 900 apartments and those filled quickly after five.

Parking availability does affect our actions.

How does this affect policy. If the goal is to cut driving trips to the central city, then the logical approach would be to reduce the amount of available parking.

However, it is also important to replace those reduced trips with something (carpools, buses, rapid transit, Uber, transporters). And that’s not cheap. If one can’t get to work, or to shopping, or to the museum, or to restaurants or clubs, then guess what, those attractions will move to where the people live and the downtown will be decimated.

My favorite law, the law of unintended consequences, kicks in and the very thing you were trying to accomplish, a livable downtown, ceases to exist.

When you attempt to alter behavior beware. You may get what you ask for.


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It has Begun. Self Driving Vehicles will Reduce Govt Income

This article, posted on Parknews.biz, expresses the concern by the State of California over the fact that self driving vehicles may (will?) reduce the revenues the state receives from fines, fees and sales taxes. Seems these critters will follow the rules better than human drivers, not park as often, and in the end they will reduce the number of vehicles sold, thus reducing sales taxes.

The article offers no solution to this shortfall, which could be billions of dollars a year, but laments the poor governments at all levels that will have to exist on less money.

Is there any thinking person on the planet who believes that will happen?

Logically, fewer cars would mean less wear and tear on streets and highways, and therefore lower maintenance costs. Fewer accidents means fewer casualties, less hospitalization, fewer repair bills, and lower insurance costs.

That seems like a good thing.  However the government at all levels reducing income seems like a good thing, too. But wait.

Governments have been relying on fines and fees more and more as people push back against higher taxes.  If those fees go away, what will they do?

Lower costs? Oh give me a break. It is true where public agencies have been forced to ‘make do’ with less money the services continue and in many cases even do a better job than before. Humans are clever that way. But notice I used the word ‘forced.’ If the government can find a way to collect money,it will.

In Oregon, for instance, they are ‘experimenting’ with a road use tax. You pay based on the distance you drive. How many nano seconds do you think it will take states to follow that lead. It seems fair until you remember that you already pay taxes on gasoline to cover road use. That little pesky fact won’t stop them. More money will be collected.

The States and Feds are already bellowing about lower gasoline prices. I thought that was a good thing, but if you are collecting money based on a percentage of monies spent for gas, and the prices per gallon is going down (plus more fuel efficient cars means less gas purchased) then your revenue goes down. How long do you think it will take for some legislator to come up with the great idea of raising gasoline taxes to cover the shortfall.

There is an irony here. The government has forced automobile companies to develop more fuel efficient vehicles and they have done so. Now the government is complaining that their revenues are down because people are using less fuel.

Ah yes, that law of unintended consequences. “A” seems like a good thing, but one of the results of “A” is “B” which isn’t so good.

Remember my posit a few weeks ago that before a law is passed or a tax is raised, a study needed to be done to determine the results of that law or tax and just who is helped and who is harmed by it. Sort of an “Environmental Impact Report” on legislation. Seems to me that here is a good place to start.




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It’s about Freedom

We hear almost daily that millennials are abandoning their cars and moving to the central city. They walk, take Uber, or take rapid transit.  If they need a car they rent one. Really…

I’m not so sure.  What does car ownership mean, in the end. Does it mean status, or does it mean freedom. I vote for door number two.

In this article, posted on parknews.biz, we are told that in spite of a dearth of parking space, residents of large Chinese cities are buying cars like hot cakes and then fighting over the places to park them. The author, a Chinese citizen, says that the reason is status. People want others to see them in sitting in their cars, even though they can get where they are going cheaper and faster on the metro.

I beg to differ.

I think that automobiles offer the Chinese something they have little of. Freedom. When they are in their car, they are their own boss. For that few minutes they set their own destiny. They can go where they wish, when they wish, and as fast as they wish (traffic allowing).

We know this freedom, and take it for granted. I am not certain the Chinese do.

If you drill down through the demographics, you will find that even though it ‘appears’ that central cities are the destination of the young, automobile purchases are strong.  The numbers in the US have been hovering around 7.5-8 million per year (Except for during the recession) for the past decade and are expected to double by 2020.  (Aging car fleet).

There are a heck of a lot of people who want to drive. We want to feel that we can go and do when and where we want. We aren’t restricted by timetables and rail lines.

I think the Chinese are getting a taste of that, too.  And their auto sales, no matter how difficult it is to park there, show it. Don’t see your garage just yet.



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