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No, I’m not at the NPA Show      

I made the decision last weekend not to attend the NPA event this week in Orlando. I’ll miss seeing old friends and making new ones, but I think its best for all concerned. I have a world class cold and spreading it around the industry was not the best thing to do.

In addition, Robyn had a knee replaced a week ago and although she said “go” I felt it was better to stay close to home. A little moral support at times like this is a good thing, right.

Besides, I have the best team on the ground in Orlando with Marcy and Astrid meeting, greeting, and representing Parking Today. Please take a few minutes and chat with them.

I know that Christine Banning and her crew are doing a great job and the event is stellar. All the best to all of you there.




No, I’m not at the NPA Show

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The Buried Lede

We have finalized the November issue of Parking Today. It’s the Veterans in Parking issue. Todd Tucker has edited the articles and all but four are written by veterans who work in the parking industry.

I am impressed with the content of the articles, both the stories the authors tell about their time in service and the information they give to help you do a better job in your day to day operations in the parking industry. Its amazing how easily management techniques translate from the military to civilian life.

It is simply wonderful how humble these heroes are as they tell their stories as if they were simple daily activities. Most saw combat and survived some of the most arduous experiences imaginable.

I’m sure you have heard of the concept of “burying the lede.” The ‘lede’ is the major thrust of a story and if you bury it, you hide that information well down in the article. As I was reading one of the vet’s articles, I found that the author was a true hero.

He was the recipient of two, count em two silver stars and two purple hearts. He served in both Vietnam and the Gulf War and left the army as a full colonel. The silver star is the third highest award given in the military and is given for gallantry in action.

We were casting about for a picture to use on the cover, and when I discovered this ‘buried lede’ I knew that his picture would be perfect for the pront page of Parking Today November. I would tell you his name, but I think the cover shot will do just as well.

The pictures in November’s issue may be a tad fuzzy and a bit strange, as they depict these vets as they were when they were in the military. Thinking about it, I don’t think any of us were ever so young.

Here’s the picture we are using on the cover of Parking Today for November. If you don’t recognize him, take a look at page 38.



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The Chicago Way

Chicago is considering slapping a “congestion charge” on Uber and Lyft. You can read all about it over at Parknews.biz.

Cities in Europe, London particularly, have used the congestion charge to help reduce traffic in certain congested areas of the city. And in many cases, it has worked, moving people out of private vehicles and into public transportation.

Chicago doesn’t seem to be concerned about congestion but is using the tax as a way to collect and additional 40 million a year to help fill a budget shortfall. I doubt if a couple of bucks additional on a Uber or Lyft ride will make much difference in whether folks take the TNC or move over to the metro. And since the tax doesn’t apply to private vehicles, those drivers will be unaffected.

There is no question that congestion charges are difficult to get through in any political environment and most likely extremely difficult in Chicago. However taxing TNCs is relatively easy and calling it a ‘congestion charge’ makes it easier for the Windy City to swallow.

Oh, well…another way to collect revenue and little or no result to show for it.


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My favorite Law is Raising its Head Again…

I live in the belly of the beast. LAX is a traffic disaster and although the airport is working to alleviate the problem, it will be a few years before  change will be felt. I’m sure that by the mid 2020s, much of the issue will go away with people movers, off airport auto rental centers, and passenger drop off facilities combined with new metro lines making it easy and convenient for passengers outside the airport proper.

In the meantime, the planners have come up with a scheme to take between 500 and 1000, Taxi, Uber and Lyft cars an hour out of the ‘horseshoe’ and move them to a near by parking lot. To reach it, you can walk – not far from one terminal, quite a hike from others – or take a dedicated shuttle. The airport says that you can be on your way in less than half an hour, less than the sometimes hour it takes now.

Uber says that the plan will cause more congestion around the new pick up point and other unintended consequences. Fair enough.

I sympathize with the airport. They are trying to do something.

The question is: “Why do I take a taxi, or TNC in the first place?” For me the answer is convenience.

I have just arrived off a six hour flight – I have walked from my plane to the street. In some cases I have stopped in the baggage claim area to pick up my suitcase. Frankly, I want to meet my driver, have him/her help me with my bag, and sit in the back of the car until I get home when I will walk a few more feet to my living room and a glass of adult beverage.

What I do not want is to schlep my bags on to a shuttle, ride for 10 minutes, then climb off the shuttle, walk across a waiting area, try to find my tax/uber/lyft driver, then head off home. If I wanted to do that, I could have driven my car to the airport.

Most of the off airport locations have valet services that bring my car to the off airport shuttle stop, take care of the charges in advance, and hand me a water to drink on my drive home.

This extra step has taken away the reason why I took Uber in the first place.

I understand the issue as far as the airport is concerned, but have they really looked at their traffic. Removing cars is going to help, but frankly the traffic appears, at least to me, to be buses, vans and shuttles with privately owned vehicles lost in the milieu.

So not only are the arriving passengers being inconvenienced, but the airport is ADDING shuttle traffic to the mix.

I realize that I know nothing, but the law of unintended consequences is going to kick in and its just possible that this will be a boon to off airport parking operations. If they can keep their service bar set high, my guess is that their vans will be full again, and the TNC business will drop.


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Driverless Technology – It’s going to happen – Someday

As autonomous vehicles take to the streets in test after test, the limitations of the current technology comes to the fore. In about 225 locations across the country, shuttles carrying folks from metro stops to parking areas and vice versa are in full blown test mode.

They have two people in the driver’s seat, an engineer and a driver. And in most cases, limit their speed to under 25 MPH (it seems that if you hit someone that that speed you probably won’t do a lot of damage.)

A quote from an article in the Washington Post:

Traveling under 25 mph means there is less risk of killing someone if a pedestrian is hit, and the vehicle requires less-sophisticated sensors because stopping distances are shorter, said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research. But even for slow-speed vehicles, there are still significant technical hurdles to overcome.

Huei Peng director of Mcity, an autonomous-vehicle-research center at the University of Michigan, said the technology is advancing, but even low-speed self-driving cars have severe limitations. He compared them to the Wright brothers’ early airplanes.

 “They flew a very short distance: not very high, not very far, not very fast,” Peng said. “They were not very exciting. They were not very useful.”

Perhaps the most obvious challenge: getting the vehicles to be truly driverless. Optimus uses modified six-seat electric buggies manufactured by Polaris, but two of the seats are occupied by a safety driver and an engineer.

This is not exactly roaring praise.

Don’t get me wrong – These AVs are coming. But it isn’t easy. It’s easier, MUCH easier to write a program to fly an airplane from New York to Los Angeles than to successfully guide an AV from the Village to the Upper East Side.

If every vehicle was an AVT, many of the problems would go away. However predicting what a driver will do is hard for a machine, actually much harder for a machine than for another driver.

AV companies are proud of the fact that they have mapped cities down to the inch and know where all the curbs and turns are. But have they checked with the department of streets and highways and checked just where the lanes will be blocked, where the flagmen will be positioned, or where a construction site has moved in a huge crane for a few days.

These little problems will be solved. But not tomorrow, or even the day after.


H/T Kim Fernandez – IPMI

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Off Airport Owners Sue New York Port Authority

We have an article on Parknews.biz about irate owners of off airport parking facilities entering into litigation against the owners of the three major airports in the New York area. Coincidentally to that, I received the following missif yesterday from one of them…Read on.


Interesting interview with Jeff Folland of the Parking Spot in the September Issue of Parking Today..  Not sure if he is very familiar with the off airport lots relationships at the NY area airports! They’re not so good.  A number of the off airport lots here are currently in the process of suing PANYNJ (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey).

While we met with PA people years ago to “discuss” an access fee, we were told by the head of the PA, former State Senator Bill Barone, to either pay up or we would be charged with trespass.  We would have our shuttles impounded and put out of business.  We “agreed” to pay as his threat seemed pretty official.  We had no choice.  They also require us to have higher than necessary insurance coverage’s which cost us more….

They would give us passes, stickers for all permitted vehicles.  The passes would make it possible for the PA to know who has paid and who has not. ( who knew that this really did not matter)

For their side, we would receive the following:

A phone in airport with direct contact to our offices

All transportation centers would have our info and be able to pass it along to travelers when needed.  Pick up areas etc..

We would have set signed places for drop off and pick up..

As of now, 6 or so years later, they have not done a thing.  To top it off, as new parking lots have popped up, and not contracted or paid the PA the access fee, the PA realized that they have no way to police these new facilities and NO WAY to make them pay. So these guys are free to come and go as they please while people with access passes are forced to charge higher prices to offset their fees. For my company, this has worked out close to a million dollars.

How’s THAT for partners??


Mike Moreland


Newark Airport Long Term Parking


Mike pretty much says it all. I will have more comments on this issue in upcoming issues of Parking Today.

Stay tuned


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Parking is “holding its own.” “Spikes in the other boroughs have been dramatic.”

If you log on to Parknews.biz you will find an article from the Old Gray Lady (The New York Times) about high end parking garages in New York City. Although this is a fun read, it isn’t really news. We have seen “condo” parking facilities in New York and other major metropolises for decades. If the rich want to pay, there is someone out there who will supply the product at a price.

The key to the article has been buried. And I quote:

But efforts to discourage driving by making it tougher to park may not have had the desired effect. Indeed, cars are on the rise, or at least holding their own. In 2017, there were 225,179 non-taxi cars registered in Manhattan, on par with 2007, when there were 225,047, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which counts cars used for ride-share services like Uber in its totals.

The spikes in the other boroughs have been dramatic. In Brooklyn, there were 457,980 cars in 2017, up from 387,328 in 2007, according to the data, and in Queens there were 725,906, up from 671,816. Added congestion has meant increased demand for the dwindling number of parking spaces, advocates for garages say.

Parking is “holding its own.” “Spikes in the other boroughs have been dramatic.”

Wow – in a time when our betters are doing everything possible to denigrate the privately owned vehicle, citizens in one of the most ‘mobility’ friendly cities on the planet, if you take consider subways, buses, light rail, and TNCs mobility friendly, are either maintaining the POV numbers, or in the case of Brooklyn and Queens, buying cars like hotcakes.

What this tell me is that you can’t legislate vehicles away. You can institute congestion pricing, café rules on automakers, control the media with articles about impending doom caused by automobiles, reduce parking, and even attempt to tax cars out of existence, but freedom loving citizens will do what they will.

If you don’t provide the infrastructure to handle the cars, the free market will find a way. And of course, the poorest among us will be hurt the most. The rich will always have a parking space.

Its time for the parking industry to stop wringing its hands and step up and focus on the problem. If we don’t, someone else will.

Oh, and note — the parking ‘condos’ are striving for an excellent parking experience. Its time to clean up our act.


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“We are all fighting for every last car”

Thus Chicago Parking guru John Hammerschlag describes the parking marketplace in Chicago. He goes on “It’s a much more competitive business than it once was.”

The quote comes from an article in Chicago Business concerning the trials and tribulations of the “Millennium Garages,” three underground facilities beneath the city’s Millennium and Grant Parks totaling just over 9200 spaces. The facilities have had a troubled history, but under the guidance of Rick West, are looking better financially. However Rick is looking for alternatives to parking to fill much of the space. Read all about it on Parknews.biz.

When an attendee complained at a PIE seminar last year in Chicago that numbers were down, I told him to sell bananas. The idea is, I said, that you need to market your garage like a grocer sells bananas. You can buy them by the bunch, by the each, or you can buy them green or just before they rot. People need them and use them differently. One size doesn’t fit all.

Surveys tell us that people take alternative transportation (like Uber) because parking is such a pain. They don’t like to try to find it, don’t like to park in dark, uncomfortable confusing garages, and don’t like to deal with paying for it. With Uber, they have none of these issues. They even take the TNC if it costs more. Parking is a frustration.

How do we take the frustration out of parking and make it easy? There must be an app for that.


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Are we speaking to our customers? Shakespeare was on the right track


Actually, this sign is fairly clear. Can’t park from 11-1 on Friday for Street Cleaning. 2 hour parking 8 to 5 Monday – Saturday including holidays, unless your have a district 7 permit and then I guess you can park as long as you want. You can’t even stop from 5 pm to 2  am any day unless you have a District 7 permit,  then you can park during those hours…Now take Sunday…I guess all bets are off on the 2 hour parking restriction, but not on the 5 PM to 2 AM restriction. Except for District 7.

Then there’s the “Once per day per district”. I would surmise that this is District 7. That means that you non permit holders can park in District 7 for 2 hours but then have to move your car to district 1-6, wherever they are, for an additional 2 hours, assuming the same rules apply in other districts.

I do have a couple of questions for the Culver City, CA parking folks.

1. If you don’t enforce on Sunday, why enforce on holidays? One may assume that the same reasoning for not enforcing on Sunday would apply for other holidays? Right?

2. Why not note that you are in District 7? See 4 below.

3. Why note that District 7 permits are exempt? People having the permits know they are exempt, as do the enforcement people. It only makes the signs cluttered and confusing.

4. It would seem that the “Once per day per district” rule was there to ensure that people simply don’t move their car 30 feet and park again for another two hours — turnover. This is a residential neighborhood a block away from a shopping center. The goal might be to keep center employees from parking in the neighborhood and taking space from the residents. By the way — here is the regulation quoted from the Municipal Code:

For any person to park a vehicle on any public street or alley subject to a “Time-Limited Parking Except By Permit” limitation for a period longer than the subject time limitation, unless a preferential parking zone permit therefor has been issued by the City of Culver City and is displayed on the vehicle. For purposes of this Section, successive acts of parking upon any public street subject to a “Time-Limited Parking Except By Permit” limitation, or portion of such street within the same preferential parking zone, shall be deemed a single act of parking, subject to the time-limit parking restriction applicable to that preferential parking zone.

This fixes the move for another 2 hours problem but adds confusion – move after 30 minutes four times and you use up your parking, but only in that zone. This of course begs the question, how the hell do you enforce this. I know, I know — LPR…but does the algorithm take moving after 30 or whatever minutes and add up the time in the zone. By the way, “Once per day, Per District” on the sign doesn’t cover all the possibilities created by the regulation. A judge would run screaming from the courtroom if one tried to explain this when you were challenging a citation.

How about

“You may have one 2 hour (or less) parking session per day per district.”

5. If a resident had a visitor coming for dinner. They could not park on the street, but I’m assuming they have a one day permit that could be placed on the car to notify the towing crew that the car is legitimate.

I could go on and on but your get the point. The sign was written, I think, to please the lawyers, not to communicate with our customers.







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Driving VS Uber

Shelly came to the PT offices for a meeting this week. When it was over, we asked for her parking ticket so we could validate. She said “Oh, I took Uber, the parking here is so confusing.” She would rather pay about $25 for the round trip than pay nothing to park in our building because of the confusing signage. This is a person who is tangentially, at least, in the parking business. (Shelly is our graphic designer.)

I went down and looked at the garage entry and subsequent directions through the eyes of someone who didn’t park here every day and sure enough, the place is confusing. Far better to take a TNC and be dropped off right in front at the curb.

Its not just the technology, or lack thereof. Nor is it the staff, or the lighting, or the cleanliness. It can also be the garage design from 30 years ago, or the confusing signage, or battle going on daily between the two buildings that share the garage.

Is it possible that we get so used to parking in mediocre parking facilities that we don’t see the issues like our guests do? I can sail past confusing signage and around tight corners because the facility has trained me to do so. Is it time for a second look?

A little thinking outside the box and a good graphic designer (can you say Todd Pierce) could turn our place into one that people would want to park in, not just tolerate or use our competitors. As for the cost, how much revenue are we losing? There is a lot of empty space.

Just Sayin…


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