• Frank

How To Better Manage Parking Demand and Solve Parking Shortages

Parking minimum at residential and mixed-use buildings, especially the buildings near transit hubs, has resulted in numerous cases of either parking oversupply or shortages co-existing in the same location.


While other public and private buildings such as schools, revenue-constrained churches or even some commercial properties which historically have been off-limits to both nearby comutters going to work, residents, or off-hour drivers going to nearby restaurants, movies, and shops. However with the advancement in smart buildings, IoT technology and sharing economy, demand for parking at the undersupplied parking lot can be offset with ease of reservation, space access, and online payment, while parking shortages at undersupplied parking lot can be alleviated through better operations and technology as well.

Even for gated underground parking lot with garage doors, Internet-of-things technology can enable any driver access to parking using their smartphones after permission has been granted in the form of either payment or via the property manager. Some property owners such as condo or rental apartments are still uncertain about sharing their parking with the public due to security reasons.

Modern technology such as mobile apps can vet the drivers before granting them access to the building parking lot, and enable building owners the ability to process payments directly via the driver's credit card.

In areas where there is an abnormally high demand for parking and limited supply, there are still a few ways to alleviate the demand and resolve the parking shortages.

1. Improved bikes storage facility

The number 1 reason residents or tenants avoid purchasing a bike is "bike theft". If the building can significantly improve security measures around bike storage, educate residents on bike security best practices, and provide complementary services such as seasonal bike maintenance programs then there could be a reduction in parking demand freeing up more spaces.

2. Separate parking spot with home sales / enable parking opt-out

This increases housing affordability for prospective owners without a personal vehicle. Some developers even go a step further by completely unbundling the residential unit with parking. In this case, the residents or owner can rent none or as many as 2 or even 3 spots from the building management, and be able to adjust the number of spots rented factoring in their needs on a monthly basis. This type of parking arrangement turns parking in the building into a free market in which rental income from parking adjusts based on variation in parking demand. The consequence is that the developer would not be able to sell off parking and the parking revenue is not always consistent.

3. Pooled parking

Instead of assigning specific parking spot to each unit, leveraging statistics and the assumptions that not all cars will show up at the same time, the developer can calculate the peak demand for parking to size the parking lot. This removes the phenomenon of lack of parking among tenants while many assigned spots sit empty days on end.

4. Tandem spots design

This is where 1 car park directly behind another car. This parking space design requires the car in front to move in order for the car in the back to leave, but it can significantly increases the lot's capacity.

If most of the parking spaces at the lot are large, tandem spots for compact and subcompact cars has the potential to double parking revenue.

For inner-city areas where shortages for parking are severe, people are willing to park at tandem space and work out the details with the other driver. Just ensure that the lease clearly states that tenant is responsible for moving their cars and letting one another out.

5. Stack parking system

This is a mechanical lift system which essentially doubles the capacity of the parking spot by allowing 2 cars to park on top of each other. The car on the top can be moved down using a hydraulic lift. The major downsize of implementing such a system based on some owner's experience is that systems are prone to breakdowns which requires expensive repairs with on-going maintenance.

6. Embrace car-sharing programs

Developers can encourage car share providers such as ZipCar or Maven inside their parking lot. Studies have shown that millennials are more likely to use such service than to own a vehicle, especially for residential buildings within city centers. Since a few parking spots will be reserved for car-sharing vehicles, the car-sharing companies will provide a stream of consistent parking income to the developer or the property management as an added bonus.

7. Parking amendment after pre-sale

A more accurate predictor for parking demand happens after the pre-sale, so this is a good time for developers to file for amendment before construction. This way parking facility at the building is further optimized based on accurate parking demand projection from the pre-sales data.

8. Regular occupancy surveys

The occupancy of the parking lot should be measured periodically. The data collected can be used to improve parking revenue and operations while reducing parking-related issues and complaints. Revenue is optimized through automated adjustments in pricing based on historical supply and demand for parking at the building and various other factors. Furthermore, the number of spots allocated for the visitor, tenants, and paid public (both hourly and monthly) can be more accurately predicted using the results of these surveys, which can be done both manually or using parking software which automates the process.

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Author: Frank Jing, Strategy & Operations at GoParkr

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