Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Park like the New Zealand All Blacks

Watching the mighty All Blacks beat the USA rugby team at Chicago in November made me think about how this team has become one of the most successful sports teams the world has ever seen.  The ‘All Blacks’ (reference to the colour of their uniform) are the national rugby team of New Zealand, and even taking into account the fact that there are only 4.5 million people in New Zealand, their achievements on the world stage and against much larger countries, have been mind-bogglingly successful.

To give you some idea of their stature, over the 144 years rugby has been played in New Zealand and the 130 years the All Blacks have been playing other countries, they have only ever been beaten by 5 countries, won 400 of their 524 games played at a win rate of 76%.  As of September 2014 this year, they are on a streak that includes 20 games in a row unbeaten and 36 games unbeaten at home, all against tier one international teams and in some hostile environments from Johannesburg to Buenos Aeries and now London to Chicago.  They became the first rugby nation in the professional era to achieve a 100% winning record in a calendar year.

 It’s difficult to compare their success because of subjectivity but records show some of the best local and international teams of all time are,

Win % Wins    Losses Year                Team   Comment

.764     400      124      1884-2014       NZ National All Blacks Rugby

.673     70        34        1914-2014       Brazil National Soccer Football

.878     72        10        1995–96          Chicago Bulls  best 82-game season

.825     60        8          1976–77          Montreal Canadiens

.798     67        17        1880                Chicago White Stockings

How do you create a winning team like the All Blacks?  How does an organisation go out to fashion a record almost unmatched around the world for any local or international sporting team, over such a long period?  I have tried to put down on paper a few of the immediately obvious traits that the All Black organisation clearly used to their benefit and these traits can be transposed over to a commercial parking organisation.


The definition of talent is a natural aptitude or skill.  I don’t believe this.  I believe talent comes from hard work and years of preparation.  You may have heard of the 10,000 hours (Malcolm Gladwell) it comes to becoming an expert.  Take Tiger Woods, he achieved expert status probably by the time he was 5-7 years old, and today that would be Lydia Ko. 

Access to or attracting the best talent is a major challenge for any organisation, but for one that has its eyes on being world class, it needs the best talent on board, with the best talent coming through in a wave right behind, pushing standards higher and higher.

To test this I went through a number of parking job vacancies online to check out what the vital and typical skill or talent was that if in abundance in your organisation, would transform you into a world class parking outfit.  There are no single set of skills that makes a parking person like accounting makes an accountant or law makes a lawyer.  Organisations have advertised for public administration, business administration, engineering, Bachelor Science, Bachelor Arts, or ANY 4 year degree.  To cloud the water even more, for my team here, I look for economics skills – the balance of supply & demand must be understood as a priority.  You can sub-contract the other skills.

Maybe identifying talent young, with basic skill sets and investing in them until they become world class is a way to improve your business. I don’t know of any parking company that does that.

Clarity of Purpose

The structure must be set to be focussed on ONE goal, success.

 The All Blacks are blessed with a structure in New Zealand where every town has a rugby club.  When New Zealand was being developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the rugby club was the place where all of the farmers and town folk would meet up.  It was like the town hall and so the game spread around the country.  Today you could not replicate that infrastructure simply.  Most sports organisations short circuit that process by having commercial relationships with other clubs around the world.  Parking companies should look at something similar to extend their influence and to access resources limited in their own environment.

The New Zealand Rugby Union controls ALL rugby in the country.  Every town has a team, every suburb or region has a representative team, every region flows into a provincial team and 26 provinces in New Zealand form the five Super Rugby franchises that compete with teams other countries that go from South Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand to Argentina … the long way around!  Each of these franchises from New Zealand form the All Blacks.  With that pyramid structure, it’s easy to see how THE single goal of a small country is a winning national rugby team.

Many companies including parking companies do not know what their single goal is and in not knowing that goal, they can’t organise themselves to achieve it in a world class fashion.  The All Blacks organise themselves to win international rugby matches better than anyone else in the world, what does your parking company do?

Complete Trust

 The management structure of the New Zealand Rugby Union gives the right to organise and run the rugby programme of the All Blacks to the All Blacks management.  They understand that the coach and players are the experts and will get it right.  Rugby Union focus is on supporting the team through good times and bad.  They trust completely that the team is doing the right things to achieve its goals.

How may cities, councils and perhaps companies trust their teams to get the job done?  An example of this is when the Councillors, Mayor or even the CEO give direction of operational matters like pricing.  Operational matters belong to operations and in this case the All Black team.  You wouldn’t hear of the Union instructing the All Blacks on tactics.

A Healthy Impatience

With a positive and achieving culture, supported by a trusting management structure, you can develop a team that pulls together during bad times and still manages to win, even in the last minute of the game.  However, to consistently beat the world, you must get there first.  This means that developing new technologies or new methodologies to operate your car park should be trialled and tested, even if no one else in the world has ever done it before.  Not rushed, just impatient.

Developing a healthy impatience or a positive edginess should be encouraged.  The All Blacks score more points than any opposition, even when they go a player down with a yellow card.  Even when they are 14 on 15 players, their record shows they rise and score more points.  This is a staggering achievement based on a desire to be the best in the world. 

The All Blacks have shown the world that to be world class you have to get a bunch of things right, all at the same time.  They don’t wait for others to achieve, they don’t wait for others to learn how the All Blacks do it and catch up, they keep challenging, testing, trialling, watching, adapting, recruiting, trusting, desiring and building.  Aren’t these traits we want in our business and the industry?

Kevin Warwood

Friday, December 19, 2014

What will you ponder over Christmas???

Things to ponder over Christmas…… 

I note no one has yet tackled the issue of what happens when you send your driverless car to a car park (or home depending on the value of fuel vs. parking costs), after being dropped off, and its full? 

Do you send it to a car park in the same parking company’s livery or will competing parking companies have to speak to each other to communicate vacancies? 

Will the commercial parking companies have to allow vacancy data out for Google, Audi or BMW to use? 

Will pay by Phone companies finally set up a single common ‘wallet’ like Paypal etc so uses don’t have to have 5 Apps on their phone and uptake can be sped up? 

What will you ponder over Christmas???

Have a great Christmas.

Kevin Warwood

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Celebrity Complains about a Being Infringed in a Christchurch Car park. (Video)

Gary McCormack Furious About Parking.  The problem is, the car park he is showing in the video is one of the better ones in Christchurch.

Free Parking has Mixed Results on Retail in Nelson

In Nelson, at the top of New Zealand's South  Island or Te Waipounamu (Maori name), there is a hive of activity around trying to solve a main street retail parking problem.  Regularly the sunniest place in New Zealand, the issue is creating chills with some of the abuse hurled at the poor old Enforcement Officers, so much so that nelson may be showing it up as an unfriendly place.  Why?  Because they cant solve their retail parking problems.

Retail parking is a very simple issue to solve.  It’s straight up economics, not emotion, not traffic engineering, not planning, just economics.  It’s the balance of supply and demand.  Whether by time restriction or metered charging, its still just about economics.  This fact eludes most people.

I’m not sure the Council and the retailers have actually defined the issues here, so that would be a great place to start, so I will have a go here. 

1.         Provide enough parking for shopping customers to come and stay as long as they are shopping, and no longer.
2.         Provide some parking for the staff of those shops and commercial premises to park all day.
3.         Its not really a number three but I thought I would throw this in - Council will get its revenues anyway, either by parking meter or by enforcement (due to the extra traffic generated by free parking)….its never free.

There, done it.

Firstly, you have to understand how to manage the parking resource in the city. It is limited. There are only so many car parks to go around.  Generally, more people want them than there are car parks.  This makes it a scarcity so you must actively manage it.  But to what levels should you manage it?

In modern parking methodologies, the ‘occupancy rate’ is the Number 1 KPI in parking now.  You must set up your system to ensure full utilisation of parking, that is a working occupancy rate of around 60% to 85%.  Any higher, then the price should go up to control it (occupancies higher than 85% start to show signs of congestion).  Any lower then the price should go down to improve utilisation. 

There is a large amount of work now showing that people looking for car parks are up to 45% of the actual traffic in a busy city.  The answer to that is to get the pricing or time restriction signals right and then communicate that in depth so that the parking decision is made before you leave home or work.

Price is a tool but not the main goal ….. occupancy is the main goal of retail parking although retailers will try to jam you into their car parks anyway because parking relates directly to footfall and they generally don’t care about you until you get into the mall (see most malls in the country).

These days we have a lot of modern tools & technologies in the tool box to set up a modern parking system, pay and display machines, pay by phone, barrier gates, licence plate readers, parking sensors, signs, paint on the road, education and finally, parking enforcement officers.  You can use some or all of these together.  Taupo uses an enforcement only model, which is say P60-P120 with sensors on the street to keep the cars turned over.  Most big cities will use parking meters and pricing to turn cars over. 

New modern methods of setting up your parking operation work very well around the world and will be in New Zealand in no time, that is an inverse pricing method.  Most cities have a price per hour where each hour costs the same amount, e.g. $3.00 per hour plus a P120 time limit.  The new approach is to charge more for the extra hour and have no time limit.  The affect appears to be people who want to stay can – they don’t get forced out – but they must pay for the privilege.  This might look like,

1.         1st Hour - $2
2.         2nd Hour - $3
3.         3rd Hour - $5
4.         4th Hour - $7

As you can see, the rates climb significantly at the time you want to turn the car park over.  It also has the affect of being positive in nature versus the inherently negative enforcement and infringement approach; in fact it is proving around the world to reduce the need for enforcement significantly.

For staff and office workers, they can park in areas away from the parking for shoppers because, for a major proportion of them, if you can’t park shoppers, they wouldn’t have a job.  In this case you make it cheaper or with longer time limits where you want them to park to incentivise them away from the main shopping areas..  You can always improve public transport to incentivise them on to the bus (see my article on TDM here).

See, parking is easy to fix, you just need an economic bent.  Parking is about economics, not only traffic engineering or planning and certainly not just enforcement.  I suggest taking the more positive approach and organise the balance of supply and demand and cut the poor old Enforcement Officers some slack…. It’s the system, not them.

Kevin Warwood

Read the Article Here.....

These views are my own.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Is TDM designed to cause inefficiencies and now dated?

Most of my ‘parking’ working life has been primarily about trying to optimise a parking operation by getting as many people into a well run and attractive facility as possible.  The single aim has been to achieve a high occupancy level, with a tipping point of too many customers demanding spaces, because the facility’s promotion and operations were too successful, then triggering a price rise.  That tipping point meant I could then put prices up and start the process of marketing all over again.  It doesn’t always work that way because occupancies and prices can go down too. 

This is in a commercial environment and not a municipal environment that may not enjoy the freedoms from community outcomes that private facilities may.  The commercial environment supposes you run each car park as a separate business and not as a single synchronous entity and I have found that this has more pros than cons. 

Transport Demand Management (TDM) is about synchronising not only each individual car park space and facility but each and every part of the transport programme being, Public Transport, Road Corridors and Parking.  This tends to run against the ethos of competition between car park sites and car park companies which means, it is doomed to failure straight away. 

It supposes firstly that all car park companies will work together to achieve the lofty goals of TDM (they wont).  Secondly, it supposes that all parts of the TDM paradigm are working efficiently (they aren’t).  Thirdly, it supposes that TDM will deliver more benefits to the community than competition does (it doesn’t).  TDM could be called a type of socialist transport (tongue in cheek).

I tend to think of TDM as a ‘flow’.  It deals with the flow of people into the city each day, almost like a river.  At its source the river starts quietly, gently working with gravity to go to a destination.  As it picks up volume as more tributaries and estuaries join in, it is squeezed by its banks and forced to go where the banks want it to go.  The river may get a blockage every now, causing all sorts of flooding and chaos, as the river works its way to its destination. It can’t be stopped without major construction or investment.  At the destination the river is large and the combination of the collection of smaller flows, all settle into the vast peaceful ocean. 

Imagine how surprised I was when I started to work in a city environment, being surrounded by traffic engineers and transport planners who spoke about using parking as a transport demand management tool.  To the lay person, this speak means artificially fiddling with the price at a facility or destination to discourage customers to park and to consequently force them to take the bus, train, bicycle or suffer the fake prices.  In other words, they want to dam up the river as it flows to the sea.  Good luck with that.

Being a glass half full person, I could never understand how a city might try successfully to force people to travel by a mode through penalty and punishment rather than the positive outcome of enticement, incentive and motivation.  People will always travel where the incentives point them.  Penalties require enforcement automatically which means there will need to be a large administration of the punitive regime.  Incentives require no such level of administration. 

In Wikipedia, transportation demand management, traffic demand management or travel demand management (all TDM) is the application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand (specifically that of single-occupancy private vehicles), or to redistribute this demand to other methods of travel.  I get this.  I really do.  This should be about encouraging a different method of travel through incentives, attractiveness of the product and lifestyle or even competing values, not about hitting people over the head with the blunt mallet of pricing for parking. 

In practical terms, this means that if people won’t use the bus service because it is a poor option, then the city will force us to use that bus service by hiking up parking prices by the advent of local taxes, the forced reduction of parking supply or redesigning Road Corridors to make car travel difficult.  Whatever method used, this is not acceptable to most people.

The answer is very simple.  Run an awesome bus and train service, reconfigure the on-street parking to allow for transport options to flow smoothly through the Road Corridors (no on-street parking impediments) and then let parking operations respond to the left-overs in a well run, efficient manner that offers a great service to those who must use a car.  Incentivise those who use Public Transport with a faster, smoother and cheaper service where a person’s time-value is revered.

Symptoms of a poorly run and designed Public Transport system and poorly configured Road Corridors are easy to spot.  They are spiralling parking costs due to rising parking demand, circulating and double parked traffic again due to rising parking demand and Road Corridors at a standstill during the peak hours again due to rising parking demand.  Parking demand is the cleanest method of determining the how well your Public Transport system and Road Corridors are working and thought of by the public.

This is an issue that should be solved in other areas up-stream, such as Road Corridors design and operations or in Public Transport operations, not parking operations.  It feels very much like the upstream road corridor, Public Transport design and traffic operations have not been able to do their jobs well enough and the result is to flush it on to parking operations to clean up!  This is designing a system to run inefficiently on purpose!  A city municipality owes it to the tax payers to run the parking operations well, not to artificially run it poorly …. on purpose.

Another challenge to TDM is the arrival of self driving cars and the now increasing growth of electric vehicles.  Self driving cars may actually double the traffic into the city as the car parking in the city not only competes with the time values of sitting on Public transport, but also the costs of sending a car home or to a cheaper car park lot in the suburbs, awaiting the call to come into the city and pick up the owner. Cars could make four trips a day instead of the current two.  On the other hand, electric vehicles should be encouraged as they don’t bellow greenhouse gases.  TDM is a blunt instrument that will not filter out desired vehicles, rather punish them all, missing the chance to incentivise the right behaviours.

In the coming modern world, congestion charging or road tolling, where road users are charged based on when, where and how much they drive is a better way of controlling the travel demand.  Why?  Because electric vehicle can be singled out as those who can be incentivised to encourage this type of transport while four trip a day self driving cars or fossil fuelled cars will be discouraged. 

However, the best method of encouraging the type of behaviour a city wants is to improve Public Transport, design better Road Corridors and allow the inner city parking stakeholders to compete and be run efficiently.

Be positive, do away with TDM.

Kevin Warwood

Parking Operations Designer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Minister to reform Hospital Parking Rules ........

New guidelines have been drawn up to put an end to the stress of 'unfair' charges

Opinion:  I have to say that if a Hospital hasn’t organised their parking charges yet and grasped how the start of a Hospital visit is not with a Physician but a Parking Attendant yet ……   Readers here know my feelings on this subject.

From the article here that tells us that a Minister of the Crown must force District Health Trusts in the UK (Boards in NZ) to get their parking organised properly and look after the chronically ill and disabled, tells us a lot about the actual Boards and their governance.  They appear to believe that the Hospital only starts at the swoosh of the automatic doors on the front of the building. 

While the patients suffer poorly designed and operated car parks and with contracted operators who take advantage of the lack of oversight, the Trusts (Boards) may wonder why they have a high number of non-appearances or patients worried about their car while they should be worried about their health!

This article is a good reminder to District Health Boards in New Zealand to take the opportunity to get it right before the Minister of Health intervenes.

Relatives of chronically ill patients must be given free or cheap hospital parking under new rules announced by the Government.

Patients with disabilities and those with frequent appointments as well as staff working shifts will also benefit from the shake-up, according to Jeremy Hunt.

The Health Secretary said new guidelines for English hospitals had been drawn up to put an end to the stress of “unfair” charges.

Trial technology for car parks by Smart Parking in Hamilton

Cashless car parking could be on the way for Hamilton.

A trial has started in Grey St, Worley Place and the Riverbank carpark using new sensors that sit under cars.

The sensors, designed by Cambridge company Smart Parking, could lead to a parking system with no roadside payment machines.