An interview with Prof. Kay W. Axhausen from the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems at ETH Zurich looks ahead to the future.
What trends do you think will define the next 10 years in transport and public parking?
A key trend in road transport will be driverless cars. This will undoubtedly affect transport and parking planning in the foreseeable future. Another topic will be the remodelling of financial revenues. The arrival of electric powered vehicles will signal the end of tax revenues from oil. This in turn will result in a change in financing in transport infrastructure.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities and risks in today’s public parking design?
The question here is how we want to continue managing public parking. In other words, whether or not we try to systematically get on top of negative behaviours, such as search traffic. The classic approach here is to create more capacity. However, this is currently very difficult to achieve in city centres with conventional solutions as there is not enough space. Another approach is based on the thinking of Donald Shoup. It involves setting the prices so that there is always a parking place in the respective section of the route for those who are looking for one. The SFPark project and the management of parking places in Japan shows that it is possible. (http://sfpark.org/)
Do you think automated parking systems (APS) could be a way to optimise ever-smaller parking space? Where do you see further advantages of APS for transport and city planners, for
politicians, communities, users, etc.?
Automated parking systems can only play a part when they always work reliably. You have to ask yourself whether these systems can actually be economically viable (including the return on capital) and how they can be integrated into the city landscape - which is becoming an increasing problem for car parks in urban areas.
The topic of APS can only be of interest to the likes of building contractors and operators when APS can be used in central locations where it is possible to charge high parking rates, when a visual design can be built in that is adapted to the surroundings, and when APS work reliably.
Which hurdles do you think APS have to overcome here in Switzerland and in Europe?
The biggest hurdle I see for APS is in delivering the service that they promise. It is not only the guaranteed reliability and speed (car ready to drive away within one minute) that they have to provide. I cannot assess this technical side. There also has to be the right location for such systems - a place where building contractors/operators can push through prices that would finance the complete project. And the question is, will they find this location?
I would say that once systems that are built work reliably, drivers will not even stop to think if it is an APS or a traditional car park they are using. If a new project were to fail here in Switzerland or in a country nearby then there would be no future for these kinds of systems.
How do you see the future of APS?
By 2036, driverless cars will have gained acceptance. At this point, users will no longer have to worry where their vehicle is. Operators of large vehicle fleets still will, though. And they will be very interested in optimising their parking space. This plays into the hands of APS providers as long as they are in a position to deliver flexible solutions that can be integrated into the urban environment.
This interview was conducted by Skyline Parking AG.