Another year, another summary. In what has become an annual tradition, we try and distil the key news and trends from the Wayfinding Forum blog. It’s no easy job, with just under 200 posts published every year…
Parking rates and sentiment
In 2011, Australian parking rates and the construction industry sentiment were inversely proportional. Sydney announced another on-street rate hike, and Australian parking rates continue to be amongst the most expensive in the world; due to both policy and appreciation of the Australian Dollar.
The value of car parks continues to soar, with an off-street private park adding up to $200k-150k in Sydney, and up to $100k in Melbourne and $80k in Brisbane. It seems the lesson here is to invest in ownership of the space, not in parking your own car!
Meanwhile, the construction industry grows gloomier, with Davis Langdon’s quarterly sentiment monitor declining every quarter throughout the year, and painting an increasing negative outlook on the industry for the future. Gosh, we’re a miserable bunch.
Innovation and technology
In what is most likely the most significant event in the industry this year, the SFPark program in San Francisco was switched on in April, as the world’s first large-scale application of demand-based parking fees. Later in the year, Los Angeles also announced that they would trial demand-based parking fees, to commence in April 2012.
Unlike the sentiment monitor however, on the technology front it appears to have been quite the ‘appy year. Mobile technologies exploded throughout the parking industry in 2011, with apps launched for probably almost anything you can think of. There are now apps for reporting on the misuse of disabled parking spaces; find nearby parking stations, to connect people who want to seel their private off-street parking, show locations of electric recharging stations, probability of getting a parking ticket, remembering where you parked, finding available spaces, to play car parking games, and more.
Another technology to take note of for the future are in ‘near-field communications’, with Google announcing the launch of their ‘Wallet’ product (allowing users to pay bills by tapping their phones to a device); and the emergence of EMV credit Card technologies. Both of these will have a significant impact on how payments are made in our industry into 2012 and beyond.
Government regulation and policy
One of the biggest shifts in policy this year was around minimum parking requirements in inner-city buildings and constructions. Both Sydney and Melbourne led the charge, reducing the minimum required car spaces for new residential and commercial properties, and were followed by Canberra, Adelaide, Wollongong and more. It’s not just governments who see this as the future – apparently the users have also reduced their demand for inner city parking spaces, instead being replaced by increased demand for shower facilities and access to public transport.
Melbourne City Council has led the way with increased technological implementation and installation; this year introducing a number of automated technologies, including in-ground sensors, license plate recognition systems, pay by phone technology, and an electronic monitoring and enforcement system throughout Melbourne’s CBD and Southbank.
Around the country, Wollongong City Council introduced paid parking meters but repealed and amended much of their program, leading us to believe that they should have done their homework a little better before pushing go. Brisbane City Council expanded their on-street metered areas of the city and inner suburbs, and Perth’s announced that inner city churches were made exempt from paying parking taxes. Meanwhile, it was reported that the revenue from Perth’s parking levies were not being reinvested into public transport – the intended destination for these funds.
Politically, the NSW State elections saw a new government installed, with big promises to address transport issues in NSW. Sadly, (?) the No Parking Meters party failed to win a seat.
Transportation and planning
One of the key topics we explored in 2011 was the contrast between European cities and car policies, compared to Australian and American policies. We published a number of articles this year on how Europe is leading the way in moving their societies and cities from car-based to people based, instead investing in alternative means of transport and supporting infrastructure.
Car parking is integral to this process, however: a Parisian study found that most urban trips are influenced by the car parking conditions at their origin and destination; and a subsequent UK study found that effective parking management will provide impetus to shift drivers to more sustainable modes of transport; providing these options are available to them!
Back in Australia, congestion in Sydney in particular continues to increase, with six of the major seven roads to the city getting slower in peak hour commuting. Sydney’s main transport hub of Wynyard saw a lot of focus, due to both the Barangaroo development on the north-western edge of Sydney’s CBD, and the fact that the commuter hub is reaching capacity – for both the train lines and the bus lines.
Alternative and environmental transport
Whilst in 2010 we predicted that electric cars would be a key focus for 2011; it appears that this was shadowed by other non-car transport methods. For us, the most interesting news on electric cars this year came from lifestyle assessment studies published in May, examining not only the electric cars’ output, but the entire chain of powering electric vehicles from production to disposal, concluding that electric vehicles still have a long way to go to overtake the petrol-driven engines for energy efficiency.
Bicycling seems to have been the key focus for urban and transportation planners as an alternative transportation method in 2011. Most of the major (western) city centres have been investing in infrastructure to support bicycling. New York has led the way, implemented their bicycle lane infrastructre program to much press and attention, and it would seem, significantly increased demand. It has seen some teething problems in managing the balance between cars and bicycles, pedestrians and enforcement, but for the most part seems to be going well. London is also seeing significant success in their bike sharing programs, with the Boris Bikes scheme very popular and bicycling on the uptake.
In Australia, Melbourne’s bike sharing scheme was revealed to being significantly underutilised in June, with possible causes identified as pick-up points, poor weather, compulsory helmet laws, and a limited number of bike stations. It is still Australia’s leading city in terms of bicycle usage, and saw a significant police crackdown in June – trying to establish and teach bicyclists that they also need to obey the road rules.
Sydney opened their new dedicated cycleways in April, and has seen a significant increase in users since. We’ve also come across studies proving the health benefits of bicycling, with significant benefits for the population of cities with high usage. Aside from health, the new dedicated bicycle lanes have also seen apparent increased property prices for the houses on the cycleway routes, noted in Melbourne and Sydney.
Putting our bicycling money where our mouth is, PTC’s resident cycling nut Andrew Morse was very active this year, participating in the Sydney Tweed Cycle event in July, and blogged for us comparing the benefits of owning a bicycle to owning a Porsche.
Worth a mention
To wrap, there were some other ‘notable achievements’ in the industry we felt warranted a mention.
Congratulations to both Barbara J. Chance and Ronald Fleming were both named Parking Professionals of the Year.
The car parking structure at 111 Miami Road, Miami, has redefined architectural innovation.
We hope that Los Angeles residents and administrators are able to learn a lesson from LA’s ‘Carmageddon’, that ended up being just pure panic in a city that doesn’t realise it can’t do without a car for a day.
And one of our favourite examples of parking enforcement for the year was watching the Mayor of Lithuanian capital Vilnius run over an illegally parked car in a tank. That’ll show them!
Over and out!
Thanks to all our readers for your interest and interaction with our blog this year. We hope that you’ve found it useful, inspiring, or entertaining! We wish all of our readers a happy holiday and we look forward to enlightening you in 2012!