The Parking Garage of the Future
Many garages run by SP Plus, a Chicago-based company across the country, are using hands-free door-to-door systems and mobile payments “to create a contactless experience,” said Jeff Eckerling, director of business growth. company. Overall, the company oversees “more than two million” parking spaces at several thousand locations, including more than 70 airports, he said.
Despite contactless technology, stay-at-home restrictions that were imposed over a year ago due to the coronavirus have wreaked havoc in the parking sector. An empty parking space is like a subway car without runners, a baseball stadium without fans.
“Our entire industry has been hit hard, from hotels to airports to event venues,” Eckerling said.
Not surprisingly, he said, New York City was among the first cities where parking was reclaimed. “If you go back four months, we were almost at the pre-Covid level,” he added. “So many workers used public transportation, but it only takes a few to get back to the office and drive, which is a real victory for our company.”
The history of parking in the United States is not particularly romantic. Most reports date the earliest public garages to the early 1930s, when car ownership began to flourish. Car “jockeys” ran the business, and the cars were often placed on platforms and transported to available spaces.
By the 1950s, a construction boom had filled city centers with garages, giving people more convenient access to stores and businesses. The mid-20th century also brought the introduction of multi-story garages with ramps and “do-it-yourself” parking.
Some elements of Vision Flash were in effect recently in Hoboken, New Jersey, where the company partnered with LAZ Parking in one of its garages. High-tech cameras at both entrances are programmed to read license plates to identify cars whose drivers may have prepaid online, or have a monthly residential contract, or only want an hourly ticket. (No need to remove one from a machine; just wave at a screen and the ticket is distributed.)
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