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PT THE AUDITOR Nickeled and Dimed – Who’s Paying?

A few days ago, I was observing the morning traffic fill a busy location (Garage A). Usually between 8:15 and 9:15 a.m., the self-park garage goes from 100 vehicles overnight

to 1,000 vehicles entering for daily business in the area. And half of the overnight vehicles exit. Thus, I was seeing a turn of about 1,050 vehicles in a 60-minute window. About 90% of the inbound vehicles entered from two lanes, merged into a single lane down a ramp, and then split into two lanes dependent on which nested area they were assigned. Most days, traffic flows well. At times, an errant daily customer gets in the wrong lane or a monthly customer has an access card problem, and then, real quick, a line of cars forms.


An “instant” can be described as the duration of time between when the line stops moving and the horns start blowing! To alleviate the problems and to provide a “good morning” to all of the arriving customers, an employee is stationed

Now, the immediate problem was that Garage A had a traffic jam backed up and out into the street. The police will break the line on the street, because it causes traffic-flow problems. Some customers in queue go to the next parking facility, and Garage A loses that revenue. Repeat customers are miffed, because they are delayed and worry about running late for work. As we discussed the situation later in the morning, I found


described as the duration of time between when the line stops moving and the horns start blowing!

in each lane during the peak hour of the morning rush. This particular day, the employees were in place. All was

going smoothly. The next moment, however, there was a line of vehicles stretching back more than 300 feet — past the inbound ticket dispensers and out past the curbcut on the street. The garage’s Floor Director called on his radio for “Al,” who was missing from his post. No answer from Al. Again and again, Al was called. On the third attempt, the Manager on Duty (MOD) responded that he had sent Al on an errand to deliver “stuff” (a technical term in parking) to another parking facility (Garage B) a few blocks down the street that was operated/managed by the same company. Seems the garage down

the street (about three blocks and a good 12- to 15-minute walk one-way) is a small, non- 24-hour, one-person location. Frequently, items for Garage B are dropped off at Garage A, and its staff delivers them to Garage B once it opens in the morning.


that this was not an uncommon occurrence. If “Bill” from Garage B is late to open the location, or if he needs a bathroom break, lunch break or is simply very busy, the MOD of Garage A sends over “Al” to help or relieve Bill. No biggie, according to the MOD of Garage A — we all work for the same company, and we do this all the time.

can be

Now, as the other shoe dropped, it seemed that Bill frequently asks if he can “borrow” a

few items — toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, a pad of forms, safe-drop bags. Or could Garage A run off come copies of his paperwork for him? Etc., etc., etc.

It seemed that Bill from Garage B always had a supply problem but, no biggie, Garage A is there to help out. After all, it is the same company, right? Well … no, it is not allright. An operator has two basic

types of parking accounts. Normally they are Managed locations and Leased/Owned locations.

The primary difference is

that the owner of a Managed location pays all of the expenses and banks all of the revenue; the operator simply gets a fixed fee and maybe an incentive fee for its services. However, in a Lease or Owned location, the operator pays all of the expenses and keeps all of the revenue. Now, Garage A covers

for Garage B twice a day for meal breaks, runs delivery errands a couple times a week, and frequently provides small amounts of supplies to Garage

Continues on Page 75 Parking Today

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