It’s 7:30 a.m. You’ve just woken up and you are preparing to go to work. One hour later you’re stuck in traffic. People around you are frustrated and impatient. You were chill until 5 minutes ago, but now, you’re starting to feel stressed as well. On the radio people announce that the air quality is over it’s acceptable limit in the city. When you finally arrive at your workplace, you circle around the parking lot, looking for a spot, but it’s already full. You waste time and fuel while looking for another spot on the street, only to find that you have to walk 10 more minutes to get to your office. By the way, did you know there’s a term for this? The excessive use, abuse or outright poaching of on-street parking or neighbor’s off-street spaces by drivers who can’t find a place to park at their actual destination is called “parking spillover” or “overspill parking”.
It’s now 9:15 a.m. and you’re late for your meeting.
And this is going to happen all over again tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow…
And this is a scenario happening all over the world, because cars are the dominant mode of transportation from home to work in cities. And what’s worse, according to the 2022 Commuting Census Survey, 46% of commuters drive alone in traditional cars (with an internal combustion engine).
In some areas, the drive alone rate is even higher. 75% of Bay Area workers commute to work solo in personal cars, leading to traffic congestions al pollution.
What does this mean for us?
The topic of office parking management can be looked at from a broader perspective.
Office parkings are integrated into the landscape of a whole community.
The act of commuting influences how a city looks like.
This is why we need to find mobility solutions that tackle both issues.
So, in this chapter we’re going to give you examples of organizations getting smart with parking lot management, as well as of organizations supporting other means of commuting to work.
1. UCLA encourages ride sharing
UCLA Transportation launched activities for National Rideshare Month on campus, back in 2019, and managed to push employee drive-alone rate to 48.9%, the lowest on record. Ridesharing was the secret.
To encourage ride sharing, UCLA Transportation collected pledges from people to try commuting to campus using a more sustainable form of transportation. Each pledge will count as an entry to win prizes such as gift cards, Metro passes, a $100 credit to rent an electric bike, and more.
The program is still working, but only in October, which is Sustainable Transportation Month.
I think they should get even bolder than that 😊.
- Encouraging ride sharing
2. University of Florida transportation strategic planning
Back in 2018, the University of Florida defined its Transportation and Parking Strategic Plan (TPSP). Its scope was to find innovative solutions to the transportation and arrival challenges faced by students, staff, faculty, and visitors. The vision was defined for 10 years.
What insights did they have?
- More than 60% of employees drove to work alone.
- Only 5% of faculty staff were commuting by transit, as compared to 27% of students.
- While scooters have been prioritized by the University in the past, they ended up creating several transportation problems on campus. 88% of scooter crashes were severe. 44% of scooter holders live within half a mile of campus. This could be a short walking distance, so instead of making traffic easier, they were introducing a greater burden on the transportation system.
- Being a pedestrian or bicyclist was difficult on the campus. The most heavily used bike lanes and pedestrian paths along the campus edges were narrow and close to vehicle traffic. Additionally, bicycle and pedestrian connections to the community are lacking and discourage arrival by foot or bike.
Which were recommended solutions?
- Prepare a separate Bicycle Master Plan.
- Encourage the use of environmentally-responsible scooters.
- Develop drop-off zones for ride share.
- Implement a unified physical and digital wayfinding program in the parking lot.
- Remove and replace inefficient parking structures over the next 15 years.
- Evaluate future class scheduling and employee work schedules to help alleviate peak-hour traffic congestion
- Collaborate with the City of Gainesville to enhance pedestrian and bicycle facility connections on and off campus.
- Improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings.
- Establish policies that encourage employees and students to live closer to campus and in range of alternative transportation options.
- Carpool program.
- Increase parking efficiency and user experience through technology.
- Encouraging sustainable means of transportation.
- Collaboration with the city administration for developing a bicycle infrastructure and improving the public means of transportation.
- Use data to understand which are the most crowded days in the parking lot. Connect the data with what is happening in the office. Try to schedule office activities in days when there is less pressure on parking.
- Think long-term and plan ahead if the parking lot is being used by more than 1000 people.
3. Fortum says bye-bye to stress in the office parking lot
Head quartered in Finland, Fortum is a market leader in the field of green energy. Fortum provides customers worldwide with electricity, heat and cooling, and intelligent solutions that allow for more efficient resource use.
Fortum was looking to ensure comfortable parking for its employees, while minimizing security gaps.
Fortum had 150 employees and it was renting 57 parking spaces. Despite this, many employees were forced to look for a parking space, often paid, outside the company’s parking lot. Fortum employees believed that there were enough parking spaces, but a proper parking management tool was missing.
This when they introduced Tidaro as a tool for managing their parking spots.
From the beginning, the tool for sharing and booking parking spaces became more and more popular, and the company’s employees began to regularly provide their friends and colleagues with their parking spaces during their absence. Each employee received an access card that allowed them to enter the car park.
“We did not have to look for additional parking spaces in other car parks in the area – it was enough to use a tool to manage the spaces that we already had, which directly translated into savings also for the company “- says Dorota Waligórska, Procurement and Real Estate Manager, Global Travel Category Manager at Fortum.
This is a success story that shows that technology can help organizations effectively manage their parking lots, while reducing friction and visits at the reception.
- Use software to improve the capacity of the existing parking lot and maximize its efficiency.
4. Adform stopped overpaying for parking spots
Adform is a global digital media advertising technology company. Its operations are headquartered in Europe. It was featured as a Leader in Gartner’s Magical Quadrant for Ad Tech.
Adform wanted to have a more convenient and predictable parking. It was facing the same problem most of the companies are facing: too few parking spaces provided by the building manager.
Their solution was Tidaro. Adform chose the Tidaro app because it allows employees to share spots, book spots for guests, and make the parking lot more predictable.
In less than 3 months, Adform had already saved minimum EUR500 as they did not need to buy extra spaces (the cost of 1 extra parking space for 3 months).
- Use software that allows parking spots sharing and avoid paying for extra parking spaces.
5. Seattle’s Children Hospital reduced the employee commute single occupancy vehicle rate
In 2010, to build more clinical space, Seattle Children’s Hospital committed to the city, the state, and its neighbors to reduce employee SOV (single occupancy vehicle rate) from 73% to 30% by 2030.
In 2015 SOV reached 38% and the Seattle Children hospital avoided the construction of a $20 million parking garage and strengthened employee engagement.
On the other hand, the hospital seeks to reduce its impact on generating greenhouse gases, because asthma and bronchiolitis are two of the top four reasons patients come to the hospital, and air quality has a direct impact on those illnesses.
The hospital’s 20 year plan included strategies to:
• Reduce SOV commuting made by workforce members,
• Invest in a safer, more efficient transportation network,
• Invest in infrastructure for people walking and biking,
• Develop a new campus that enhanced the bicycling, walking, and transit experience as the preferred way to arrive at work.
How was the strategy implemented?
The organization dropped monthly permits and parking prices based on market rates. Additionally, it developed a suite of subsidies and amenities to support all other commute options, including:
• Daily $4.50 commute bonus for staff who commute by transit, biking, walking, carpooling, or vanpooling,
• Free employee shuttle (propane powered),
• Highly subsidized transit pass,
• Personalized commute planning,
• Free company bikes and bike tune-ups, and full-service bike shop,
• Vanpool fare subsidy and free vanpool parking,
• Premium carpool parking,
• Free emergency rides.
- Commuting bonuses can serve as incentive to use public means of transportation.
- In order to declutter the parking lot, the demand for parking needs to be reduced. So, instead of focusing on the actual capacity of the parking lot, what about finding the answers to “How to get fewer cars into the parking lot?”.
6. Samsung (Austin) involves its employees in generating mobility goals
Samsung Semiconductor in Austin, Texas, has over 8,700 direct and indirect employees commuting to their facility. And, since they run 24/7, they were facing lots of challenges when looking to maximize the efficiencies of everyone entering and exiting our buildings at the same time.
To fix this, they created an internal challenge and conducted an employee survey to gauge interest for a mobility solution.
As a result of the survey, Samsung defined 5 mobility goals for their YEAR 1 Targets:
1. Samsung has set up concrete options for commute alternatives and public transit.
2. Samsung has launched an internal portal with sign-up options with associated subsidies and cash incentives.
3. Samsung has implemented 2 policies that are identified as golden nuggets through benchmarking other companies.
4. Samsung has reviewed and found a last mile shuttle service that includes commute service from rail stops and specific bus stops and pickup points.
The company was also looking at connecting with other employers in the area to develop strategies to create more vanpool options or commuting solutions in the area.
Let’s not forget that Samsung, globally, is issuing parking vouchers to the disabled, pregnant and mobility impaired employees who experience difficulties in commuting. This is part of a bigger Samsung policy on sustainability goals.
- Involve employees when developing mobility solutions and goals and ask for their feedback.
To wrap this chapter quickly, when talking about office parking management we can get tunnel vision. We need to think outside the parking lot. Office parkings are integrated in the landscape of entire communities. At the end of the day, parkings affect how cites look and feel like.
The main question is: are we building cities for cars, or for people?
This is why when we start conversations around the topic of efficiency in the parking lot, we need to talk about mobility and sustainability as well. And there are plenty of success stories out there to inspire us.