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Point of View

Gambling, Parking in Space, Apps and Stewards…

By John Van Horn

The PT Blog headline read: “Roll the Dice, Park for Free.” OK, that headline was a bit misleading, but just a little.

The CBC News story (“Parking a gamble for Halifax woman”) was about a Nova Scotian who works near a downtown casino. If the woman goes into the casino and plays $10 in the slots,

she can park all day for free. The best regular parking deal she can get is $10 a day or $150 to $200 a month. So she decided to experiment. She’s not a gambler but understands that mostly you lose. So she goes into the casino every day and gambles her $10

and gets her parking. She never gambles more than $10. So far, it seems to be working. She parked most of February and is down

A European freighter that arrived two days earlier, joining Japanese and Russian cargo ships and two Soyuz crew capsules.

only $80. The casino garage is a five-minute walk to her office. Even if she were down $140, she would be money ahead. Now that’s thinking.

*** Shoupistas in space? It appears from a Discovery Channel

report that there may be a parking problem at the International Space Station. When the space shuttle Discovery pulled up in late February, it faced the following: A European freighter that arrived two days earlier, joining

Japanese and Russian cargo ships and two Soyuz crew capsules. It sounds like “Babylon 5.” Add a few Minbaris, Narn and Cen- tauri, and who knows? I wonder if there is a charge for parking your space ship?And

who gets the money?Wanna bet it goes into the general fund? ***

I’m not really to into “apps”, or applications, that can be

downloaded onto your iPhone or ‘Droid or BlackBerry. There are supposed to be millions, and they usually cost about a buck nine- ty-nine.

However, there is one app that should be on everyone’s

phone. Called Parking Mobility, CBC News said that the iPhone app “not only helps users find accessible parking spots, it also lets them report the cheaters who misuse them.” You can snap a pix of their license, their front window (to

show there is no handicapped permit) and of the offending car in the parking space. The app automatically correlates all this info, adds the GPS coordinates and a time stamp, and sends it off to the local authority so they can mail a ticket to the S.O.B. Parking Mobility was developed by a pair in Vancouver,


Canada, one of whom is disabled. The Vancouver government is taking it under advisement, but with all that photographic data, maybe they will yield. The only thing I would add is a small pad of notices so one could be slapped on the vehicle saying something like, “You have been caught and will be receiving a citation in the mail.” I hope it takes off like the app that allowed you to tell your

friends where the enforcement officers were working so they could move their cars before he got to their street. This new app could really help in our ongoing campaign to “get” those scofflaws who take disabled parking spaces.

*** Parking Manager Brandy Stanley, from the city of Man-

chester, NH, has agreed to help keep me on an even keel as I periodically post on PT’s Blog about how we in the parking industry may be able to change the perception of our profes- sion. Here we go: First, what is our goal as “stewards of parking” – I’m not

sure what it is, but I know what the goal should be. Amunicipality, a university, an airport, a hospital, a business

complex all have a limited number of parking spaces at their dis- posal. In each case, our goal should be to maintain and allocate those spaces, as appropriate, to the workers (students) and visi- tors. The question is, of course, how do we do that? In hospital, business and airport settings, it’s fairly straight

forward. We control access and people decide if they want to pay a fee to park. The fee enables us to maintain our parking resource and, in some cases, limit who can park. The fees can be arbitrary and often provide substantial income to the entity (air- ports, particularly). Municipalities have a different type of problem. Historically,

parking has been inexpensive or free, the ideal being “free” park- ing. Folks got used to that, and as we began to charge, raise the rates, and place restrictions on where and when they can park, enforcement began to take on importance. How do we ensure that people follow the rules? Our goal is to alter parking behavior – from free to paid.

From parking all day to per hour. From parking in handicapped spots to not parking…You get the idea. There appear to be two ways to alter behavior – a carrot or a stick.We have been using a stick – If you break the rule and get caught, we will give you a citation and fine you. There is a problem – we write only about 10% of the citations

that could be written. There just aren’t enough enforcement offi- cers or enough hours to cover all the possible violators. So most people are trained to believe that the chances of being caught are slim; after all, there is no theft involved, no murder or mayhem. No one is really hurt if they don’t feed the meter or if they park in a reserved spot. There is no moral code, no commandment bro- ken when you overstay your parking. Some parking managers will say that increased enforcement

Continued on Page 9 Parking Today

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