Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Parking as a ‘Commodity’? Hmmm...

Is parking a commodity?  If it is then we could manage it better, value it more and it could play a major role in revitalising a city.

The definition of a commodity is a marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs.  The definition from Wikipedia is a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market. Or in plain terms, a commodity is not a high value product, it is common, in plentiful supply and almost always anyone can provide it. Parking is possibly seen as a commodity.

As in the case of some commodities, the price of parking is also derived from the function of the market, that is, supply and demand in the parking market tends to set the price for parking as one parking operator competes against another parking operator.  In a lot of cities, this rule only applies to some classes of parking, such as off-street parking.  Parking on-street is not competitive in most places and therefore this class of parking is mis-priced and mis-managed.  Parking is seen as a plain, simple, valued but not a valuable product.

So is parking a commodity?  Mostly yes but only in a functioning market place.  In the real world, in some cities, the market is not functioning well and so some cities have too much or too little parking as a result.  It is common, its value is not that high, it is mostly in plentiful supply and there are little or no restrictions to the provision of parking (you need land in the same way you need a factory or farm in the production of other commodities).  In this form, parking is a commodity.  To get the full benefits of a commodity though, that is the right value at the time you purchase or use it, there must be a functioning market and this is where most cities let its constituents down.

The problem is that the major suppliers of parking in a modern world view parking though old glasses.  In city decision making, parking is seen as a capital asset and not as a commodity.  This devalues parking and draws valuable resources to support the wrong activities.  Some cities spend time on major ‘parking plans’ that are all about dealing with parking buildings and assets, but have little interest or knowledge on how to make those assets then work efficiently.  In other words, over simplistically, it is acceptable for those assets to be poorly managed as long as they are in the right place.  For example, a car park is built at a cost of $30m, but its impact on the surrounding retail area will have a positive affect of $160m over its life time, that’s not counting its own revenue or inflation.  Yet the energy expended on getting the building in the right place, how it fits in with other parking resources and how it links into a transport network, is disproportionate to the economic benefits created by the parking operation.  Parking is about car park buildings as much as I-Pods are about the Chinese factory ‘building’ they are made in.  It’s important but not that important.

So what is the benefit of defining parking as a commodity?  It’s not a pork belly or orange juice traded out of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  It is the moment in time, that people consume, not the piece of turf the car sits on.  When a customer buys parking, they don’t get a piece of tarmac, they get a start time and a finish time. They get the ‘b’ in the ‘a to b’ relationship.  When viewed properly as a commodity, it is a marketable and competed for resource to the benefit of the consumer and supplier. It gets the right ‘value’ attached to it.  Notice here I didn’t say price, but value.  Cities have a history of mis-valuing parking and therefore distorting the market, setting incorrect prices and subsequently creating the wrong supply or demand volume, that is too much parking or too little parking.  Cities have caused the wrong supply of parking because of the mismanagement of the value of parking.  Parking should be marketed as a commodity and allow the market to solve the issues of supply and demand, for the benefit of all.  The market will allow to be built just the right amount of car parks required.

Let’s look at other marketable and competed for resources like a seat on a plane.  A seat on a plane is priced exactly to match its value.  The internet provides many ways to market this commodity these days in fact this is one of the most competitive markets in the world.  You can be on a plane and all of the people surrounding you will have paid totally different prices to be in that seat with you, just so the plane can be filled.  Price is a product of when you purchased the ticket or what time of the day the flight is at.  It has the right value.  The benefit of seeing parking in the same light as the airline industry is that they understand how to utilise the resource.  They have to draw the maximum opportunity out of it to benefit the consumer and the owner.  Having a functioning ‘market’ where parking is competitive and variably priced, ensures just the right amount of parking will be provided, with the right value attached, for the benefit of all.

A market functions well when the supply and demand of the commodity are in relative balance.  If it is out of balance, the market sends signals to the price that the commodity is now more valuable or less valuable.  The affect of this is that the suppliers or consumers then respond by buying or selling or not buying or not selling the commodity, and therefore rebalancing the value.  Most cities don’t allow the market to operate by interfering with supply as this is the only component they can affect, as they can’t affect demand.  So parking is then deliberately mis-valued and mis-priced to drive the outcomes they want.  The result is inevitably traffic jams or streets of vacant car parks, where the ‘goldilocks’ car park is required, that is just the right amount of cars for just the right amount of car parks.

Most cities would love to reduce their reliance on parking and mode-shift to other transport methods such as cycling or public transport.  The method they use is Travel Demand Management.  This is just another tool to interfere in the market.  Colloquially, if the public transport system is set up well with greater worth placed on people’s time in buses than in their cars, and the road corridors are set up to allow for greater worth for peoples time on those corridors than a private vehicle, then far less parking would be needed, other than for community access functions.  Sadly, this is not the case.  Most cities will try to regulate the heck out of the routes, the medium and the destination and force us into a poorly functioning parking provision with artificial prices and over or under supply.

In conclusion, commodities require a market to give them the correct ‘value’ at the time of the sale.  The value of the commodity usually relates to its price.  Many cities interfere in the market and this distortion creates an over or under price and supply. The consequences of that interference is a much longer battle to get mode shifts to other transport choices and a slower revitalisation of the city through increased traffic jams or streets of vacant car parks, neither are good outcomes.  Parking is a commodity that needs a full blown market to benefit us all.

Read the Article Here

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

And here comes the Parking Revolution!

Television New Zealand missed the point here with this news item.  Its not that the car park has sensors or there are no barriers or its a Pay by Phone car park site alone, no this is the first 'dynamically priced' car park in NZ.

Now most people wont understand what that means but they need to because this means you are now only ever going to pay for parking, exactly what it is worth!  No more over-priced or under-priced parking, just parking charged at the correct value.  Wow.

Dynamic pricing in parking means that the price will move with the demand, that is, if the car park is empty, the price will drop and if the car park is full, the price will rise.

I said this was a revolution.  How is this a revolution I hear you ask?  Well, in two ways it is a huge change in the parking industry and the consumers need to note this.

One, all organisations that don't use this method of charging will be found out.  They will be identified as lazy or just not caring enough about the user to amend the prices to actually what the parking, on that day, in that location, is worth.  Those that act like a monopoly will be forced eventually to change or hey will suffer ridicule from the public.

Two, the public will not have parking to use as its subject of folly any more.  The emotion that most people attach to parking will be removed.  The emotion is attached to parking because some organisations that manage parking have mis-managed the pricing of it.  Ask yourself, if an organisation just adds CPI (inflation index) to a price, is there really competition here, are we as consumers really getting the best price and is the inflation adjustment related to anything other than revenue gathering?

In a fully functioning market where consumers get the best price related to what they want to buy, that is low prices if they want a slap up job or the best price for the best widget, parking in some quarters has been a fixed price, one price for all and unrelated to the value you get for the time in that car park   No wonder everyone has been emotional about parking.  Amend the price to relate it to demand, like almost every thing we buy in the world today, from petrol to broccoli, and people will understand why they are paying the price they do, and that will remove the emotion.  We may not like the price but we will understand it and who doesn't like to get  a bargain, especially in parking.

And here comes the revolution.

Read the Story and Watch the Video Here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Is it time to review parking fines????

Parking commuters swoop - Is it time to review the parking fines????

Amy Calway            Cynthia Beeby

Residents of Freemans Bay and Ponsonby in Auckland are struggling with commuters who circle waiting for residents to drop their children off at school and nab their car parks, then put on their running shoes and jog to work.  They may get a $12 parking fine, but that is a good trade off when parking in Auckland can cost more than $12.  Is it time to review the level of parking fines so they become a deterrent?

Read more here .......

Monday, March 10, 2014

Frog Opens High Tech Car Park ...

Frogparking Business Development Manager Michael Tuttiett using a iPhone Frogparking app via a frogparking sensor attached to windscreen.

Palmerston North has become home to what may be the world’s most high-tech carpark, where the amount drivers pay depends on how many spaces are available.

The 33-space carpark in the city’s Church Street has been kitted out with solar-powered sensors by local parking technology firm Frogparking that can tell which parks are occupied. Drivers pay for parking through their smartphone.

Frogparking has been providing ticketless parking systems to Palmerston North for a few years, but director Don Sandbrook said the new system was its most advanced yet, with cheaper parking if there were lots of spaces available and higher prices if they were nearly all taken. The tariff ranges from 50 cents to $2 an hour.

Regular patrons can use a GPS-enabled windscreen tag that will automatically bill their credit card, but there is no cash option.

Sandbrook said there was plenty of on-street parking nearby for “little old ladies” who found the technology complicated. “If you don’t have a smartphone, we don’t want you to park in the carpark.”

He believed everyone would be paying for all parking by smartphone within 10 years. “There will be no other way.”

Drivers pay only for the time they are parked and local retailers can send codes to customers’ smartphones that entitle them to have their parking fees refunded if they take up shopping offers.

A local cafe, Cafe Moxies, has been the first to do that, but three other retailers are offering parkers in-store discounts.

Sandbrook said Palmerston North could become the “world’s innovation hub” for the parking industry and help cities around the world revive their retail centres.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Read Article Here ...........

Friday, March 7, 2014

Parking Nation Tradeshow & Exhibition- CALL FOR ABSTRACTS – Last Minute Reminder!

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS – Last Minute Reminder!

Parking friends,

The Parking Nation Exhibition’s CALL FOR ABSTRACTS is about to close.

On behalf of Parking Nation Exhibition 2014 (PNX14) team, we would like to invite you to submit abstracts for oral presentation at PNX14 to be held at the Chateau-on-the-Park Hotel, Riccarton, Christchurch on 27-29 May 2014.

Parking Nation will be attended by all of those in parking in councils & municipalities, commercial operators, airports, hospitals, universities and campuses, property, agents, service contractors, parking equipment, technology, hotels, transport & traffic engineers and planners, parking consultants, enforcement, mobile phone technology suppliers, design & construction, lighting suppliers, printing, tender contractors and retail & mall operators.


The following topics are some of the themes that will be addressed at PNX14. However other relevant topic subjects may be put forward by presenters:

  • License Plate Technology
  • Lighting & LED Technology
  • Electric Vehicle in a modern parking world
  • Sensor Technology & guidance systems
  • Smart Cities – data integration
  • Tech camp
  • Successful parking RFPs & Tenders
  • And more

 The closing date for abstract submissions is Friday, 7th March 2014.


  • Abstracts must not exceed 300 words, excluding title, authors and institutions. The abstract should include the essential technical qualities of the paper. No acknowledgements or references are required with the abstract. 
  • Abstracts may include a simple table or figure.
  • Must include a succinct overview of the intent and purpose of the oral or poster presentation.
  • No specific abstract format is required.  The key requirement is to give the organising team a clear understanding of what would be presented.
  • Prior experience in speaking should be noted.

To submit your abstract, please go to and go to the link to attach the Abstract.

Please circulate this information as widely as possible and encourage your colleagues to submit abstracts for PNX14.

If you have any queries on the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.

You just have to get your Parking Enforcement right or we all look like Plonkers!

A 47-YEAR-OLD woman is warning other motorists using Burton’s Queen’s Hospital’s controversial parking system to keep their receipts with them – after managing to get her fine quashed.  

05/03/14 hospital parking storyQueens Hospital parking complaint / Parking Eye....Kay Tomlinson

Kay Tomlinson, of Sunnyside, Newhall refused to pay the £70 fine she received for parking in the hospital last month because she said she had paid the correct amount to park.

She was only fined after Parking Eye claimed she input her registration details incorrectly – which she denies. Despite paying the correct amount she was still fined.

Article Here

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Well readers, I have finally gotten rid of my Internet Explorer 8 and now have Google Chrome.  This means I can now add to the Blog without all of the issues I have had over the last few months and start to write regularly again.  Watch this space.