2020 has been a massively disruptive year for most industries. Very few have been affected as heavily as the parking management sector. Some reports have indicated that parking transactions have decreased by as much as 90% in city centre car parks.

With a vaccine on the horizon, what is in store for parking management in 2021? We’re going to have a look across the whole spectrum of employee, on-street and commercial parking.

1. Less people in city centres is bad news for car parks

COVID has changed the way we use our cities and it seems that this is something that will stay with us forever. Urban centres will always have a vital role to play in cities. Yet, the days of commuters traipsing in and out of cities for work everyday appear to be over.

Most experts are predicting a blended model approach will emerge.

“This will see people work from home maybe two days a week and from the office for the rest of the week. This isn’t the death of the office but it is a 40% reduction in commuter traffic.”

That’s a lot of lost business for car parks, many of whom depend on lucrative business parking to fuel profits.

How will car parks respond to this? So far around the world as lockdowns have lifted car parks have been very slow to lower prices to try and entice drivers back to cities. Potentially in the short-term this is on the cards.

In the long-term we will probably see a lot of under-used car parks which will be chalked down for alternative developments.

2. Employee parking will become hot property

On the flipside and a potential saving grace for parking management companies is the expected short-term surge in employee parking demand.

As the world yo-yos in and out of lockdowns waiting for a vaccine, many people don’t trust public transport. In fact a recent McKinsey survey showed upwards of 90% of commuters wouldn’t feel safe using public transport to return to work.

With 81% of employees stating a preference for driving to work upon return, it is safe to say that employee car parks will become a key focus.

This will be a saving grace for many car parks who stand to benefit by providing much needed overflow facilities to business. Particularly in the first half of the year until a vaccine becomes widespread.

“It is worth noting thought that parking management software will come to the fore for many companies as an alternative to extra space. COVID has seen many companies accelerate their digital transformations.”

Workplace parking
Increase parking efficiency by 40%

Zoom, Slack and Teams became part of the new office vernacular overnight for many companies. As we learned to work remote, people learned a whole new set of tools quickly. It will be the same as people return to the office with new solutions to book desks, rooms and parking spaces commonplace.

The pandemic is proving something of a tipping point for parking management software. For example, ParkOffice.io which is recognized by G2 & Capterra as the market leader can increase parking availability by up to 40%.

ParkOffice.io offers a “hotdesking for parking spaces” style feature which massively parking supply. Softwares like this will become commonplace for employers as they return to the office and look to manage spikes in demand.

3. Employee parking data is a strategic must-have

The surge in parking demand will not last forever. In fact it will probably die off with the vaccine. This will lead to a period of reflection on employee parking lots.

You’d be hard pressed to find a business around the world who hasn’t been having hard conversations about office space recently. People recognized we’ll never work the same way again. Most business realize that reducing office footprint is on the cards.

“Everyone who is having this conversation, also needs to reflect on parking. However, unlike offices where most employers have occupancy data to underpin decision making. Parking lots tend to be something of a wild west, with key strategy decisions being made based on anecdotal experiences.”

The good news is that the growth of the aforementioned parking management software category will change this. Companies will turn to software to track employee parking usage. This will allow them to identify exact amount of space needed for future, ensuring optimum real estate spend.

Employee public transport
Increase employee public transport usage with ParkOffice

4. Less on-street parking, more cycling infrastructure

One welcome development of the pandemic was a global move to reclaim the streets. For too long under-used parking spaces have been blocking up our cities.

“Many local governments have used COVID to reimagine their streetscapes. Large amount of on-street parking has been repurposed into cycle lanes.”

As technology continues to improve and connects motorists with parking spaces, the need for on-street parking reduces. Hopefully as a result we will see more city councils getting rid of on-street parking. I think almost everyone wants to see them replaced with improved transport infrastructure.

5. Transport quotas to continue growth in prominence

“Transport quotas are a big part of life in the USA but have struggled to make inroads in Europe to date. Basically transport quotas see local government sit down to agree transport quotas with local employers.”

They agree how many employee can drive to work, how many should cycle etc. The employer can then be fined if their staff have over-dependency on car usage. The quotas are then managed by TDM (transport demand management) professionals in cities and companies.

Many cities have gotten a glimpse over the lockdown of what city life is like without gridlock. Will an impending return to congestion accelerate adoption of transport quotas in cities? It might not be mainstream in Europe in 2021 but it’s definitely something which is on the cards for the future.

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