We have explored the true size & cost of parking problems and exposed the technical and economic issues that are creating them. There may even be too many parking spots. We will now understand why, if that is the case, we can’t seem to find parking spots.
So, why can’t we find parking if it’s there?
With so many parking spaces, why do drivers still feel frustrated looking for parking spots and how can we better help drivers (the demand) to find the most relevant spot?
The answer lies in addressing these two areas:
1) a lack of visibility of what parking is available in real time, and 2) archaic pricing structures that do not reflect market demand.
1) Real Time Parking Visibility
For most cities, parking spots follow the approach of ‘I’ll know it when I see it’. Drivers use their hunch to find a parking spot, (usually by circling the block) and then physically check the legality and conditions of each spot they find. Drivers need to be lucky enough to drive by a spot at the right time and understand confusing ‘sign language’. There is no way to do this in advance, or from afar.
Visibility is restricted to being onsite at the right time.
2) Unresponsive Parking Prices
Both street and lot prices follow predictable pricing schedules which make it easy for drivers to establish their parking ‘rule of thumb’: Street Parking = cheap, Lot Parking = expensive. Drivers will typically circle the block, looking for cheaper, less available street parking and only park in more available, expensive lots as a last resort.
Parking pricing is ‘known’ and does not adapt to fluctuations of demand.
The combination of these two factors leaves drivers with the sense that there is no parking. But a better interpretation of this would be that they can’t easily find street parking at their destination and that they have been ‘trained’ to avoid the ample, expensive parking lot spots.
In our next series, we will examine what smart-parking initiatives are underway that are improving visibility and that are enabling more dynamic pricing.