free parking - flickr user alancleaver_2000Enlarge Photo
Cities throughout the nation are facing budget issues and left scrambling for ways of increasing revenue. For some, that means turning a focus toward making more money from publicly owned parking structures or repurposing them for the changing needs of commuters who are affected by higher gas prices—and in many cases, to use those parking revenues to fund non-parking-related services.
So it's not surprising that in a major survey of parking professionals, 44 percent reported that they are trying to find ways to increase revenue.
The results are from a 2011 Emerging Trends in Parking survey, conducted by the International Parking Institute (IPI) of its members.
More than a third of respondents noted an increased demand for green and sustainable parking solutions, while more than 19 percent noted the need to accommodate alternative fuel vehicles—especially charging stations for electric cars.
The public sector is also increasingly looking at some of the parking facilities built in the private sector as models for sustainability; for instance, Porsche recently announced that as part of a new U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, it will include a solar-powered parking structure.
It's a $25 billion industry, according to the IPI, and the organization says that a well-planned parking can actually increase the use of mass transportation and decrease the number of drivers cruising for a parking spot.
Parking operators are anticipating more demand for cashless solutions, like electronic payment passes, and more than a quarter of operators think that more will be using smartphone apps to reserve or pay for parking.
Other high-tech parking solutions in the works include automatic vehicle detection, alternate pricing solutions based on peak/off peak use, and multiple uses for parking facilities.
"Sometimes parking professionals aren't part of the planning process," the IPI says in a promotional video (below). "This can lead to things we don't like, such as sprawl, congestion, frustration, and pollution."
The organization hints at, in addition to high-tech solutions and green considerations, how those revenues might be increased: better design of the structures themselves. When asked about problems, more than a fifth reported issues with design and the flow of vehicles and pedestrians. Poor public or project planning and poor rate structures were other common complaints.