BY KEITH B. JONES | March 27, 2019

Hope springs eternal, but optimizing the commuter’s journey takes effort. Nonetheless, it’s one of the most important endeavors in parking and mobility today, and a necessary route along the road to Tomorrowland. You could spend all day exploring the many and deep rabbit holes of journey optimization (believe me, I have). But I’ve saved you some time and narrowed it down to three that I’m convinced are particularly critical.

1. CROSS OUR SECTORS, NOT OUR FINGERS

Optimization isn’t organic. Public agencies, with their ability to enact regulations, and private organizations, who offer an abundance of data and tech innovations, have equally large roles in parking and mobility and can offer equally significant contributions to commuters’ journeys. So long as they collaborate.

In San Diego, for instance, ACE Parking assists the city by managing its parking facilities. By no means is the collaboration exclusive; but it is exemplary of how a city can rely on a private company to handle its infrastructure, introduce new and convenient customer services (like mobile apps and payment systems), offset traffic congestion, and provide important data and feedback that help strengthen the entire mobility ecosystem.

Much as I’m proud of these contributions, they’re still relatively small scale. For a macro example of cross-sector collaboration, I often look towards the bustling metropolis of Toronto.

Like many cities, Toronto faces significant challenges in terms of commuter congestion, heart-beat-skipping high rent prices, soaring population density, and fewer available opportunities. But a new transit-oriented development called Quayside, offers to fix these issues—putting the lifestyle and the journey of its residents first and foremost on its list of priorities.

The joint effort by tri-government agency Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs, a division of none other than Alphabet (Google’s parent company), blends progressive urban design with digital innovation to develop a more connected, attractive, and yet highly livable new district right on the city’s lakefront.

Toronto officials recognize the dire need for progressive, rather than reactive, new developments and Sidewalk Labs understands the importance of a people-first approach that puts the commuter’s journey atop the priority list.

It’s a shared vision encompassing “a mobility system that is safer and more convenient than the private car at a much lower cost.” Good news for the 8th most congested city in North America.

Unifying the needs of cities and the capabilities of corporations, we can swiftly and efficiently harmonize the commuter’s journey through data, emerging technology, and shifting mobility trends—instead of just hoping it will happen on its own.

2.MIX IT UP

Intertwined with cross-sector collaboration is the need to adopt a mixed-use mentality toward transportation.

Today, most commuters (urbanites included) rely on cars as their primary mode of transit. This reliance is stifling to mobility optimization and creating a congestion and pedestrian-safety nightmare.

Mixed mobility is changing that. New trends are favoring convenience over independence and status, and the result we’re seeing is an emergence of shared mobility and a demand for better public transit. From eBikes to new bus lines, new options are making the last mile of transit all the more seamless.

A driver can park her car in a nearby garage and take a dockless scooter to meet her friends at their favorite restaurant. Another commuter can catch a Lyft to a nearby station, ride the trolley to a mobility hub and choose between a driverless shuttle loop, bus route, dockless scooter, or TNC to get him to the office.

Depending on the city, the above options are either in the works or actually available (like in Chicago, where a driverless shuttle is currently serving commuters in the central business district). While the mobility options vary place to place, the constant is their goal: a seamless journey that makes urban cores more livable.

3. GOODBYE TO GOING IN CIRCLES

You know what’s interesting? I find it difficult to even consider ACE a “parking company.” Like so many in the industry, we’re so much more than just a place to put your car.

Perfectly positioned to support both cross-sector collaboration and mixed-use mobility, parking agencies are raising the bar in a huge way when it comes to streamlining the journey: by bringing an end to the search for parking.

It’s an alarming statistic, but up to 30% of the traffic in urban areas is due to circling for parking stalls. City to city across the country, we waste an average of 100 hours per year circling for parking.

That’s a heck of a lot of time wasted in frustration, a lot of money wasted in gas, and a lot of good luck that could have gone to something more valuable!

To solve this problem, some parking companies are beginning to step up as consultants for mobility agencies, helping to implement parking strategies geared towards reducing circling.

One of the main strategies is using dynamic pricing models that quickly draw drivers off congested streets and into on- and off-site stalls. Prices fluctuate based on demand indicators, such as peak traffic hours and available stalls.

Then there’s the popularization of app-based strategies that allow people to find, reserve and pay for parking within a mobile app. Right now, it’s not a one-app-fits-all approach. But remember, technology favors demand. Don’t be surprised if sometime soon we’re able to pay for all parking, perhaps all transit, with one system.

At the end of the day, these strategies are nothing if not journey-purposed, saving commuters from wasting all that time, gas, and luck looking for something so readily available as a parking spot.

FINAL THOUGHTS

– Mixed-use mobility will play a key role in strengthening the mobility ecosystem of tomorrow’s cities. But we have to start today.

– Cross-sector collaboration is perhaps the biggest factor in streamlining the customer journey at the micro and macro levels.

– Because car commuting is still so prevalent, parking can be incredibly important to helping commuters get to their destination with greater ease.

– Value-driven parking strategies can pull drivers away from heavily trafficked arteries and into parking, thus alleviating up to 30% of traffic congestion in cities.

“Ace Mobility Solutions isn’t just a business. It’s the Mobility Revolution in action.”

Keith B. Jones
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