Parking Trends for 2022: COVID’s Long-Term Impact on the Parking Industry
By: Eddie Westerfield
The pandemic disrupted nearly every major industry in the world, especially those whose success hinged heavily on predictable consumer behaviors, like retail, food service, and transportation.
The parking industry, in particular, saw significant changes during the pandemic. In 2020, the volume of consumer parking rapidly decreased as people stopped driving to work, socializing with friends, and attending in-person events. This decrease in volume led many to believe that something had permanently changed about our society’s relationship with driving as a whole – until data started coming out showing otherwise.
Now, some consumer driving behaviors have gone back to pre-pandemic levels, while other changes in how we use transportation have persisted.
This article explores several telling ways the pandemic impacted parking trends and consumers’ transportation preferences as a whole.
City Dwellers Want More Public Parking Options
During the pandemic, the demand for public parking grew quickly as disrupted daily routines left more residents home during the day — and competing with visitors and their neighbors for an open parking space.
Even now, many cities are struggling to provide enough parking spaces for their residents. It’s challenging to get funding for public transportation initiatives when cities spend so much money on infrastructure creation and maintenance of roads, bridges, and highways.
Financial insecurities brought on by COVID prompted several cities to dissolve their parking departments because of a lack of funding. What’s more, it’s becoming more difficult for cities to provide adequate enforcement services if they no longer have the revenue from fines and booting violations.
As conferences and other live events ramp back up and office tenants head back to work, the need for accessible, adequate public parking services will only continue to increase. Cities are looking for financially friendly ways to provide free or low-cost public garages and above-ground parking, ideally near transit stations and downtown areas.
Rideshare’s Future is Still Uncertain
COVID led to decreases in certain consumer behaviors associated with parking, but it also increased the demand for and revenue of many other consumer behaviors related to transportation, such as ridesharing.
Even before the pandemic, American taxi companies lost the majority of their local business to rideshare services, leading to their eventual bankruptcy or acquisition by Uber or Lyft.
Now, they’re leveraging their flexibility, convenience, and safety commitments to bring riders back into the fold. Over two-thirds of rideshare services are used solely to get to and from an airport. Many rideshare companies provide transportation to and from transit stations and airports for people traveling between cities. They even offer “one-way” fares so riders can travel directly between cities.
While most prominent rideshare brands didn’t go belly up at the height of COVID-19, they did see inconsistencies in business as people tried to avoid close contact with strangers. And when ridesharing fell in popularity, personal vehicle usage rose in turn.
The increase in single drivers, paired with those returning to in-person work, has put a growing strain on urban traffic, congestion, and parking. Four out of five days, people choose to drive themselves rather than take public transit or ride with a friend in their vehicle—a trend that only time will tell if it stands as a permanent change.
Smart Parking Technology is Ripe for Expansion
As drivers return to the road, they’re on the lookout for parking solutions that match their pandemic-era expectations: combining convenience with safety and self-service.
The events of 2020 and 2021 created several frustrating restrictions across the parking industry, but they also gave organizations a chance to focus on emerging innovations, like smart parking. For example, drivers can now use app-based interfaces to register their vehicles, pay for self-parking, and receive real-time expiry notifications.
Even without a dedicated mobile app, parking managers can give drivers contactless self-park options through conveniently posted QR codes that facilitate all of the necessary self-park tasks right from a smartphone.
At the office, drivers can leverage flexible parking membership to manage their parking preferences and payments without navigating their way through frustrating support bots. Instead, they can control every aspect of their membership — from license plate registration to recurring payments — from their mobile device or computer.
In the valet and assisted parking space, operators are turning to technology to enable ticketless services that minimize driver-to-employee contact, cut down on paper costs, and simplify operations management for employees and managers.
The parking industry is not what it used to be. Parking trends have shown that COVID has forever changed how people interact with parking. Organizations within the industry need to adapt to keep up and meet the needs of American drivers in a post-pandemic society, which likely means turning to technology that prioritizes safety, convenience, and user experience for consumers and simplified management for operators.
Want to learn more about how GET IT can help you navigate the new normal for parking? Contact us today to start the conversation.