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PIE 2017 Nearly Sold Out

Marcy reports that our Parking Industry Exhibition to be held next March in Chicago has its exhibition floor all but sold out.  Only 9 booths are left and are going fast. She says she will be sold out by Christmas.

Eric reports that attendee registrations are running well ahead of last year and expects a record breaking attendance for the March 5-8 event.

This promises to be the most exciting PIE yet with two amazing Keynote Speakers, a special workshop for vendors, networking events, and plenty of time to see the exhibition over the three days.

Look for Wednesday to be a special time for attendees, as more than a dozen seminars, focusing on Technology, will be held, as well as a third Keynote Speaker, first thing in the morning.

PIE 2017 will be the best ever. See you there


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Elon Twigs to Charging Valet

I wondered why I got off on the screed above and then realized it was because I read this article on Parknews.biz.

PN Editor Astrid lead the charge a couple of years ago concerning Range Anxiety. Of course the goal was to have a charging station in every garage so EV owners could ‘top up’ when they were at work, shopping, or clubbing. It didn’t take long for a major problem to appear — how do you deal with the person who plugs in their car and then leaves for the day?

According to engaget Tesla’s Elon Musk is reacting to “jerks” who do this at the company’s Supercharging stations. He hasn’t come up with a solution yet, but look out, if he can go to the moon, he can solve this little issue.

If you read my piece above you see the problem. You are in Barstow — its going to take an hour to charge your car.  So you go to the local eatery to relax. Its down the block.  Your car “tops up” and you don’t know it. You finish your lunch and return to find other Tesla owners waiting in line. What’s the new rule?  You cannot leave for the time you are charging? Wow.

I have a couple of ideas — 10 minutes before the charging is complete, the Tesla could call you and tell you to hot foot it over to the charging station and move your car. An elegant and high tech solution. Not good if the restaurant just delivered your Filet Mignon.

I proposed a couple of years ago a “Charging Valet.”  A person at the site who jockeys cars around when they are charged. My friend Dennis Cunning says that it would cost upwards of $200,000 a year to cover two shifts, seven days a week.  I see no problem. If a person can afford a $100K Tesla, they can afford to pay to get their car charged. But wait, Tesla provides electricity free at its Supercharging station. But wait, that little benefit is going away January 1, so adding personnel to each site would be a no brainer.

Of course, high tech Elon may go for door number one and the phone call rather than the expense of door number two.   It would probably solve the problem since most people wouldn’t want to face electron deprived drivers in the desert wastes of Barstow.





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Range Anxiety Just don’t talk to a Tesla Owner

He gave the example of friends who live in Gilroy (near silicon valley, the ground zero of Tesla owners). Its about 80 miles south of San Francisco. My friend lives in Torrance, about 300 miles south. The Tesla owner drove to Torrance, stopping once on the way to recharge.  He then confessed he forgot his “trickle Charger” and would have to go to charging stations to ‘top up.”

After arriving in Torrance, my friend followed him to a charging station and they dropped off the car.  In a few hours they went back and picked it up. Tesla then headed out to San Diego. He stopped once on the way down to charge, charged in SD, and stopped on the way back to charge. Once again he dropped of the car to charge and my friend picked him up. Later they returned to pick up the Tesla. It is not known how many stops he made on the way back to Gilroy.

My “car guy’s” comment.  “Great toy for city driving. Fun second car. Will I buy one? Not until they fix the battery problem — not enough range.”  He also commented on the time it takes to charge.  I didn’t believe him, so I looked it up —

Tesla says the 60-kwh battery provides a range of up to 232 miles (the EPA pegs it at 208 miles), and the 85-kwh battery (a $10,000 option) provides up to 300 miles (the EPA puts it at 265 miles). Here are some examples for recharging times: With a single onboard charger plugged into a standard 110-volt outlet, Tesla says you will get 5 miles of range for every hour of charging. From zero to 300 miles would take about 52 hours at that rate. With a single charger connected to a 240-volt outlet, which Tesla recommends, the pace speeds up to 31 miles of range for each hour of charging, and a full 300-mile charge takes less than 9.5 hours.

Step up to twin chargers on the car and connect to a 240-volt, high-power wall charger (an extra-cost charging unit, not just a 240-volt line) and the charging speed zooms to 62 miles of range per hour, and the total charging time drops to under 4 hours, 45 minutes.

Really in a hurry? Stop at a Tesla Supercharger station and you can top off the tank with 300 miles of range in just an hour, as long as your Model S is configured with Supercharger capability If a Supercharger station is out of reach, most public charging stations can recharge the Model S at the rate of 22 miles of range per hour of charging.

I then stumbled on a chain of comments on Driving from LA to Las Vegas, 280 miles.



If the 90% charge doesn’t cost you any time (because it’s at home while you sleep, for example) by all means, do that. To optimize charging time, you want to arrive at the supercharger with as little charge left as you are comfortable with. There’s really nothing to gain, time-wise, by adding an extra supercharger stop to the first leg of your trip.

Once you get to Barstow, though, the most time-efficient thing to do is charge just enough to make it to Primm, so you’ll be at a minimum state of charge in Primm, and thus charge faster. If you’ve got something else to do in Barstow, like eat a meal, that might change the equation.

Even though arriving with as little charge as possible is theoretically best, please leave a buffer, so you are sure to get to the next supercharger!

Let’s see — I get in my car, fill up at the local station, and drive nonstop to Las Vegas. I never for a second consider all the issues above. When I stop, its because nature calls, not the battery.


PS — I asked a Tesla owner about this and was told that there is no problem and these folks just don’t plan sufficiently.  Oh, did you know that if you buy the BMW electric car and then want to go to Vegas, you take it to the dealer and they give you a full size gas powered critter to make the trip?  What a clever solution.

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ParqEx: Airbnb for Parking

In Chicago, reports chicagobusiness.com, an app called ParqEx is helping people rent out their under-used parking spaces. Participants register their parking spot, pay a 20 percent service charge for the app to administer the transaction, and make hundreds of dollars a month. The peer-to-peer marketplace requires approval and cooperation from condo associations and hasn’t meant with any real resistance so far. One ParqEx user, Brandon Arnold, rents out his two spots because he doesn’t even own a car.

Using an app developed in Chicago, Arnold rents one of his spaces to a woman who keeps a car downtown for weekend use, and the other to a man who parks during working hours Monday to Friday. On weeknights and weekends, when that latter space is empty, Arnold occasionally rents it to people coming to the neighborhood to shop or eat.

Another user says he tried renting out his parking space through craigslist.com, but felt more secure having payment handled by an outside source.

Airbnb has been taking heat lately as state and city governments demand the application of taxes, apply limits the amount of time property owners’ can rent out their dwellings, and even outlaw vacation rentals in residential areas altogether. Complaints from neighbors have put pressure on Airbnb participants, and opposition from the hospitality industry is affecting the way the business is carried out.

Maybe ParqEx will get by without similar challenges, but I recommend a high degree of discretion. Part of Airbnb’s difficulties have arisen from its widening base. As the business grew it went from a kind of underground vacation rental network to a worldwide trend. That popularity is what has made it so threatening to outsiders.

Read the article here.

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In Four Short Years — From PIE to Success – ParkX Purchased by Passport

We won’t take any credit for the success of Thomas Maguire, Ross Shanken and Austin Weiss, the founders of Park Genius later renamed ParkX. But we were around at the beginning.

It was announced today that their company had been purchased by Passport. What more could you want, to have your hard work honored by a larger competitor. Passport tells me that they are a great crew and wonderful to work with.  Here’s what they wrote for Parking Today in 2012.

Grad Students Launch ‘Park Genius’

A Week at 2012 PIE, and a New Company Is Born

Three students in the University of Arizona (UA) McGuire Entrepreneurship Scholars Program used the 2012 Parking Industry Exhibition as a research laboratory and came away with an idea for their school project. Editor

We have seen the future of the parking industry, and it is “Park Genius.”

We are three determined students from three different backgrounds, growing up on opposite ends of the country: San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, respectively. Despite the distance in both miles and backgrounds, we shared one thing in common: students at the University of Arizona with a love for entrepreneurship. It was on this common ground that we met in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Scholars Program at the UA in Tucson. This is where our journey into the world of parking began.

In conjunction with the dry desert heat, parking continues to be a nuisance both on campus and throughout the city of Tucson. Our professors in the McGuire program, being experienced entrepreneurs, saw a problem and assigned us to research the parking industry. Specifically, our goal was to find an innovative and sustainable business concept that would be applicable both now and well into the future.

Amid our investigation into the parking industry, we stumbled upon the Parking Industry Exhibition (PIE) website promoting a conference and expo where the top minds in the parking industry would be convening to share ideas and experiences. So, we thought, what a great opportunity this would be for us to learn from the experts!

A combination of a UA grant and the generosity of Parking Today magazine allowed us to attend the 2012 PIE March 18-21.

After the excitement of being in Chicago wore off, we got down to business, planning out the days to come: which seminars to attend, what booths to visit, and where to find the extra drink tickets for the evening mixers!

We have to admit, coming from a college atmosphere, we thought PIE might be a bit boring, but that notion could not have been further from the truth! From the inaugural “opening of the gates” to the end-of-the-week re-cap, we were thoroughly impressed and entertained each and every day, and honestly couldn’t wait for the day’s activities to start.

Though we were probably the youngest people at the expo, that didn’t stop anyone from being overly nice or helpful to us throughout the entire conference. All the attendees were excited to see some fresh faces interested in the parking industry, and we were equally excited to listen and learn all we could from them.

It was probably easy to see our “deer in the headlights” reactions when we first showed up at 2012 PIE, but after the week was over and many friendships were made, it was clear that we shared the swagger of parking veterans. We left with our heads held high and suitcases full of business cards, fliers and pamphlets from every registered attendee at the event, and even some who weren’t.

We arrived back in Tucson with a wealth of information that needed to be refined into an idea that would be our end-of-the-year project, ultimately determining whether or not we graduated from the McGuire program. Clearly we took this process seriously.

After combing through all the material and sending several follow-up emails, we believed we had found a true problem, or “customer pain,” as our professors would say. The problem: paying for parking meters and spaces using a credit card or mobile device without having to upgrade to any new hardware.

What we came up with was Park Genius, a unique identification system that could be implemented to allow for mobile methods of payments for both coin-only parking meters and parking lots. Our cost-effective solution is designed to be quick and easy to implement, and simple and convenient to use.

After visualizing our web application concept, we spent the rest of the year consulting with parking providers in the Tucson area, creating prototypes and finalizing our project presentation.

With plenty of hard work and a plethora of support from our friends at PIE, not only we were able to graduate on time, but we also secured a first place finish in our program of 22 different teams!

We knew what we wanted to do after graduation, so we decided to launch Park Genius. With the app, the future looks bright for us, and the parking industry!

Pretty bright, all right. Congrats to the three founders of Parking Genius, now ParkX, now Passport.  We at PIE and Parking Today salute you.


PS — Here’s what they sent to us this morning:

We are very excited about the merger!

You have been a key piece to our success, we can’t thank you enough for all the love and support you have given us!! Thank you thank you thank you!!



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Economics, Mr. Trump, Carrier, and a Parking Garage

I love it when those not schooled in parking try to use our business as an analogy to some other business.  Justin Wolfers, a professor at the University of Michigan and writing in the New York Times gives it his best shot, but I think misses the target.

Basically his column says that President elect Trump’s actions with Carrier is useless in the intergalactic scheme of things.  It will make no difference. Here is how he compares it to a parking garage:

Think of the American economy as a 10-level parking structure or garage, where each car represents an active firm, and the seats in the car are the jobs available. A well-managed business like this is usually pretty full. But it’s also in a state of constant flux, with new cars entering as some people arrive, and previously parked cars leaving as others head home. Every hour, around a tenth of the cars leave the lot, just as a tenth of existing business establishments close each year and leave the labor market.

The deal at Carrier is akin to Mr. Trump’s intercepting a driver on his way to his car, and trying to persuade him to stay parked a little longer — perhaps by pointing to the enticing Christmas specials at the nearby stores.

It’s an approach that no parking business bothers trying.

But you might look at it another way.

Prices in parking garages are set based on how long a parker stays, and often on when they entered or left. They purpose is to attract parkers to stay based on their self interest. If someone knows they are going to stay all day, they park in a garage that has a lower all day rate (perhaps an early bird.)  The garage owner may want cars that are long stay, to keep his facility full.

In another garage, the charges may be based on the availability of space at a certain time. If the garage is empty, the price goes down, if it is full, supply and demand pushed the cost up and perhaps parkers go there because there is no alternative.

These pricing techniques are like labor costs, taxes, energy costs incentives, labor availability, unions, and regulatory policy.

The deal at Carrier is like Mr. Trump adjusting the pricing to entice more parkers into the garage when there is space available (perhaps a space being a worker). If we were at full employment, there would be no need to cajole companies to keep their factories where they are.  However we used incentives (different types of pricing) to get customers into our garages. Sure in the global scheme of things, its a drop in the bucket, but perhaps its representative on a tiny scale of what can be done. The goal must be to provide an environment where companies WANT to stay.

It seems to me is that the government has many tools at its disposal to jump start the economy and keep jobs parked in the USA.  A bully pulpit is only one. Its useful, political, and important, but there are others needed too.  A less onerous tax code, favorable regulations, and an educated and engaged work force can help too.

But what do I know – I don’t teach at a major university.


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Parking Strategies a Good Model for Government Policy

You have to be careful talking about politics these days. Unless you’re sure the person sitting across from you shares all your views and opinions, you could be preaching to the choir or throwing water on the Gremlins. Nobody can deny that the political climate in our country right now is charged, heated, overexcited and occasionally rabid, but a recent article on nytimes.com has appealed to the intelligence, instead of the emotions, of its readers. And it just so happened to make an interesting analogy about the job market and parking industry practices.

The article compares a modern economy to a parking garage. In terms of the job market, fluctuation is inevitable and acceptable as long as overall numbers are consistent or growing. The author explains that trying to keep cars in the garage is known to be a waste of time – turnover is inevitable and desirable. Inspiring regular parkers to return and attracting new customers are the best way to ensure profitability. Making and keeping jobs in the United States is about making the country a productive and supportive place to do business – we’re talking perks and amenities that make the experience positive.

The economics of parking contain a big lesson for the Trump administration: A parking garage stays full, and an economy stays healthy, only if it’s constantly refreshed.

It will come as no surprise that the article is critical of the president elect, but it offers that criticism with sanity and uses a metaphor that many, in the industry and out, comprehend easily.

Our country is going to need all the help in can get in the year to come – there are no perfect people or perfect solutions to our challenges. It’s good to see a topic so familiar used to shed light on an important issue.

There’s also a very cool picture of a 1937 multi-level car storage tower in Chicago.

Read the article here.

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It Depends on How You Want to Pay for It

Columnist Mark Wilson is writing a series on what the country will look like under our new president. He quotes another naysayer:

Urbanist journalist Greg Lindsay imagines a darker scenario in which all public transit is handed over to private corporations. Imagine Uber running trains with surge pricing on your way to work each morning. Individual neighborhoods might be tolled on entry, effectively cutting off parts of the city to people without the means to pay. Consider having to pay $2.50 every time you go shopping in Tribeca or commute to your job in SoHo—perhaps through an RFID-powered deduction system that tolls users seamlessly across the city.

Oh My Goodness.  It would seem that Mr. Lindsay doesn’t understand that everything we do costs money. The only discussion is how we collect and pay for it, and in dealing with cities, how much we want to subsidize certain services.

These are decisions that cities wrestle with daily. Can they continue to raise taxes to pay for services, or do we charge individuals to use those services based on what it costs to deliver them. A private entity (like Uber) will charge enough to cover costs and have something left over. That how capitalism works. They will be as efficient as possible, and also ensure that the infrastructure they install will be properly maintained so their investment will be protected.

Consider WAMATA – the DC Metro. A large portion of it is closed, unusable since it was not properly maintained and there is no money to maintain it now. This is also true of water mains in Los Angeles. The city is in a drought, but thousands of gallons of water is lost daily to leakage.

Is it possible that the city didn’t charge enough for the use of the Metro, or for water, to ensure that the systems could be maintained? Ya Think.

Mr. Lindsay’s concerns are already in place in London, where you cannot drive into the central city during certain hours (congestion pricing) without paying a healthy fee. Yikes.

Wilson, Lindsay and Co worry about folks having to pay for services that in the past were subsidized by the government. Do they realize that we are paying for them now, just in a different way (taxes)?

It has been said that those in the UK, for instance, pay a 20% sales tax, but they don’t realize it, since its included in the price of the item. Here in the US, sales taxes, where they are collected, are added separately. Wonder what would happen if the city tacked a 20% surcharge on all items bought and you saw it every time you bought a candy bar ( or a car). Can you say torches and pitchforks?

The new administration seems to be made up primarily of business folk. I’m not sure whether this is good or bad, but it certainly will be different.




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Musings on 2017 and Parking

In January, wags are supposed to enter a list of predictions as to what is going to happen in the upcoming year.  I thought I might preview my thoughts here on the first Day of December.  Its usually a pretty safe thing to do, since no one really goes back and holds you to what you said.

I looked back in the PT archives and found that I haven’t given any predictions for the past couple of years. Probably lazy, or perhaps I’m off the taste of crow. I think I can come up with a few, since I’m supposed to know all and tell all. Here goes:

Venture capital will continue to flow into the parking industry, but will focus on companies that involve Apps, the IoT, connected vehicles, and alternate methods of payment. Look to Apple, Google, and other giants to be sniffing around these companies.

I attended a seminar put on by a major legacy company this past month, and the speculation was on “who are we going to buy?”  We are going to see more consolidation as companies grow and want to become more pervasive. Think Amano Mcgann, Tiba and Skidata and how they are buying up their dealer networks. Look for more of that in the future.

Innovation will be in the forefront. As you attend PIE and the other trade events, you will see ticketless parking, an expanded use of License Plate Recognition, Shopping Centers providing apps for parkers, the use of many different types of payment methods including Apple Pay, credit and debit cards, and pay by cell.

Speaking of Pay by Cell, at least one and maybe two of the companies you see swimming in this part of our market will either close up shop or be purchased by a competitor. You read it here first.

Parking will expand into transportation and ‘smart cities.’ If you don’t have your toe in this pool you neglect it at your peril. The really successful companies will coordinate and consolidate technologies cities and transportation divisions can deal with one vendor, and not a dozen or more to solve their “smart city” issues.

Innovation to watch:

  • Controlling off street parking using ticketless entry and exit
  • Automated Parking Systems will be featured in more and more developments, but will remain relatively small
  • Lighting will be changing to LED in a big way. It’s a no brainer, and provides huge cost savings
  • On Street enforcement will continue to automate. In street sensors will be popular but will give way to video in tracking whether a space is empty or full. This technology may take a few years to grab the interest of major cities.

OK, that’s enough – I think this is general enough so that no matter what happens this coming yes, I will be right


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The temptation to write the typical anodyne piece about Thanksgiving and all we have to be thankful is overwhelming. Its easy, quick and readers will smile and feel warm and fuzzy.

I thought I would make my life difficult and take a different approach. As you sit around the table tomorrow and make lists of those things that you need to thank the good Lord for providing, take a moment and consider just how much you were involved in the process.

There’s a story about a man who was caught on a roof top during a flood.  He prayed to God to save him.  A few minutes later a log floated by but he said, no, I’ll wait for God. Then a rescue boat, same response.  Then a helicopter and the local fire department. Same response. The water was rising and finally he fell off the roof and drowned.  When he met his maker, he asked why God didn’t save him — “What do you mean, I sent you a log, a boat, a helicopter and the fire department. All you had to do was get on.”

I wonder at this time of year if we don’t give thanks for the wrong things. We give thanks for the bounty, but not for the creative and hard working people that gave us the bounty. We give thanks for good health, but gloss over the scientists and doctors who worked endlessly to bring us that health. What about all those fancy electronics that connect us to the world, or keep planes in the air, or allow you to read this drivel.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the Maker provides the raw materials, and sometimes logs, boats, helicopters and fire departments, but we have to make wise use of them. We can’t sit by and wait to be saved. We must take action, or at least some must take action.

Perhaps this Thanksgiving we could list those who made the bounty possible. Police and firefighters who keep us safe, military who keep us secure, farmers who grow the food and energy workers who provide the power to get it to us and yes, maybe even our families, spouses, partners, and friends who work tirelessly so we can have that bounty.

Don’t get me wrong. We must remember the good Lord. Without God’s having our back, its doubtful if we could make the bounty happen. Hey, I guess one could say we make a pretty good team, God and us.

Please have a safe, wonderful, and Happy Thanksgiving. From all of us here at PT Media, All the Best.



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