By Nicole Chinea, CAPP & Benjamin Sands, CPP
The Covid-19 crisis has been devastating to most public and private parking operations. The pandemic-driven shutdowns, school closures, and corporate moves to remote work, coupled with curtailing of business travel, reduced parking demand by as much as 90% across not only Canada, but the entire global community. The crisis didn’t simply decimate parking revenues; it wrought societal changes that may be with us for years to come.
While we are starting to embrace our “new normal” and see an upswing compared to where we were a year ago, it still may take many months, or even years, for parking demand return to pre-Covid peaks. What are parking owners and operators to do? How can they respond to, and take advantage of, changing market conditions if people require less parking? How can they adapt their parking facilities and operations to be as productive as possible during this period, and prepare for whatever future demand holds?
Flexibility is Key
For many parking operations, the answer is found in operational optimization, resiliency planning, and designed flexibility. Operational Optimization is essentially the efficiency of doing more with less. Parking operations are likely to be working with dramatically fewer parkers and staff, and less revenue — at least for the foreseeable future.
One option is scaling the operation to meet current needs. If demand has diminished by 80%, there is no need to maintain and keep available 100% of the inventory during this period. Where possible, parking operations, process, and spaces available for use should be consolidated to minimize expense and liability (e.g., closing satellite locations to consolidate parking use to central locations, closing vehicle access to unused levels, automating cashiered operations, changing operating process, etc.).
Alternative approaches to facility use…