It is A LOT less expensive to manage parking now
Not that long ago, a parking facility would need to generate at least $50k a year to make managed parking solutions worthwhile. Today, the costs have lowered to the point where it’s financially feasible to manage parking in facilities with much lower revenues.
Here’s how that all plays out in the future of parking.
No expensive equipment
Everything’s on mobile! So there’s less need for expensive equipment that’s not just costly to install but expensive to maintain (tickets and thermal paper isn’t cheap!).
People get extremely frustrated when they can’t start parking from their phones. We don’t blame them because we’re the same way! Our lives are increasingly managed from that mobile device - and parking is no different. What that means for parking is that there’s less usage of machines, which are expensive to install and maintain, as well as greater compliance and even longer stays, since parking is easier to extend. In practice, that means that it’s possible to enforce a parking paradigm in new types of areas. Whereas before installations may be limited to infrastructure considerations, now it’s easy to place signage, put it into an enforcement paradigm and you get great compliance. The cost of operations falls dramatically - and a lot of that is because of the smartphone.
With expensive equipment eliminated as a barrier to intelligent parking, compliance is actually much improved. Since mobile phones make it easier for drivers to manage their parking, fewer compliance issues related to long lines or malfunctioning machines. Assuming that signal is strong, it’s quick, easy, and convenient to manage parking on mobile devices.
Portable tech also makes parking easier to enforce. Staff doesn’t need to worry about visually reviewing each printed ticket or fielding complaints about non-operational machines. Handheld devices can be used to verify parking compliance and issue tickets. Even better, automated systems can also prioritize labor to allocate it more effectively to problem areas.
Evolving parking minimums
With lower equipment costs, more efficient labor, and a better parking experience, we can now redefine how we approach parking in our communities. We dedicate a lot of valuable real estate to parking, mainly because parking minimums became a standard in zoning laws across the country.
With “free parking” imbued as a central tenet of urban planning, we’ve bundled the cost of parking into the cost of goods and services for much of what we purchase. As we evolve parking minimums from a fixed number of spots based on a dated concept of “free parking,” we’ll unlock tremendous new opportunities in how we use public spaces.
When you decouple parking from the purchase, there’s a mindset shift. The shift will benefit the community, as parking becomes about managing space that’s more equitable and desirable for the community - and less a fundamental right. Reducing or eliminating excess parking also drops the costs of new developments, which boosts affordability and further accelerates the ability for parking to become a component of a broader urban mobility evolution.
A larger addressable market - and better cities
As parking management costs drop, there’s also a more accessible path forward for innovating not just the equipment but the parking strategy itself. Without being constrained by steep upfront costs, we can focus more on designing parking to serve real-world needs - and less on gating, compliance, and other infrastructure that doesn’t improve the experience.
Ultimately, this means that there’s a larger addressable market for managed parking. It’s now possible to invest in parking solutions for a larger variety of applications that may once not have made economic sense. These tailwinds are massive drivers of industry innovations. That’s why we’ve launched things like Flex Lots and Star Spaces, each of which better serves customers and optimizes available space for owners. Just as no one is going to “win” parking, the future of parking will be determined by how we choose to build our cities. Parking isn’t just parking anymore. It’s a statement about how we want to live.