One of the main aspects that must be analyzed in the field of parking management is the pricing policy that must be applied in such a way as to obtain an efficient and correct management of the parking spaces.
To price adequately means to try to influence the behavior of users so that they may park in a way that resembles the model conceived by the owner of the parking area.
This model is based on different types of necessities: the goal might be to favor a frequent vehicle turnover, and therefore brief parking times; or it might be to apply discounts to users that leave their vehicle parked for multiple days; or finally it might be to discourage long parking periods in certain time frames, such as in the morning, while favoring other times of the day, such as in the afternoon.
These are just a few examples that can be made when it comes to pricing policies for parking and only a small part of the different aspects that must be considered and therefore solved, mostly, through the study of rates to be applied using parking meters.
Explained in a more simple way, the main concept which is the basis for pricing configurations is that one can act on two different aspects of parking: the “when” and the “how long”.
Acting on the “when” means favoring or discouraging particular times of day (or the week), by increasing or decreasing the cost accordingly.
For example, morning parking could be penalized compared to the afternoon by applying a higher hourly rate for that period of time. In general, when trying to favor the turnover of vehicles, the price should be higher in the days and time frames in which one expects a higher flow of vehicles.
Acting on the “how long”, on the other hand, means reasoning in terms of parking duration and, in other words, in terms of increasing or decreasing the cost of tickets based on how long the vehicle is parked.
For example, in an airport or garage parking, and idea might be to lower the hourly rate for parking proportionally to the duration of the parking itself.
Determining all of these different aspects translates into an adequate pricing configuration.
In general, there are different factors that influence the calculation of rates in relation to parking duration. The main ones are:
- the time of year (for example, during the month of August parking is free)
- the calendar (for example, on a holiday parking )
- the day of the week (for example, no parking is allowed on Friday mornings because of the local market)
- the time of the day (for example, the hourly rate for the morning is higher than the rate applied in the afternoon)
- the location of the parking area, depending on how close it is to the city center or other frequently accessed areas
Other factors that influence how people park are the minimum and maximum duration allowed per day, the minimum and maximum payable amount, the possibility of caring over any excess payment of the current day to the following parking period, the time frames in which it is possible to pay for parking. Configuring one or more of these criteria allows the parking administrator to determine how the parking installation is used.
Obviously, at a certain time and with the same parking meter, different active rates can coexist and be used by different drivers: this makes it possible to differentiate rates for vehicle or class of users.
Finally, it is possible to have special “privileged” rates reserved only for specific users who are identified by means of a personal ID.
This is most commonly used for applying discounted rates to residents of a specific zone.