Parking allocation planning

A lot to plan; planning your lots with parking allocation planning.

Whether you’re embarking on a full-scale parking master plan, or continually revising your plan year-to-year to accommodate changes and improvements, understanding how to manage your lots and parking allocations is fundamental to the planning process.

A good parking plan is well rounded, and allows for both future planning and revenue growth.  At the same time, it maximizes the existing potential in your operation in the most effective way possible.  At the core of your strategy should be two main categories: parking lot planning and parking allocation planning.

Parking Lot Planning

In lot planning, you start with the basics.  Define and document the physical locations of all the parking lots you have, the number of parking spaces available, and how much you charge users to park in these spots. You should also document the type (annual, semester, monthly, visitor, etc.) and number of permits you issue each year. This will help you determine the total number of permits you need and the range of permits needed for each lot.

Here’s an example.

We have three lots: lot “A” has 158 spaces, lot “B” has 223 spaces, and lot “C” has 54 spaces.

It would be easy to just number the permits 0-158 for lot “A”, 159-382 for lot “B” and 383-437 for lot “C”. That will, however, limit any future expansion or changes that might occur with your lot or number of parking spaces available. It is recommended that you add a buffer to each parking permit range for unforeseen changes or growth. Remember, permit numbers can be reused year after year depending on your parking management system, this lets you track the history of each permit over time.

There are many types of numbering plans available, this is only one suggestion that will allow for expansion and efficiency.

Actual # of spaces Lot Name Permit Range System Start # System End # # of Permit Records
158 A 1000-1999 1000 1157 158
223 B 2000-2999 2000 2222 223
54 C 3000-3999 3000 3053 54

In this permit range we include a lot of extra numbers for any type of expansion. This example also adds an identifier for the permits, with permits in the 1000 range specific to lot “A”, the 2000 range for lot “B”, and 3000 range for lot “C”.

Expanding the Permit Range

There are many reasons for expansion that have nothing to do with the size of the lot.  For example, a user may lose a permit and need to get a replacement. Another example is adding a new parking structure or permit category to an existing lot. Or perhaps you physically expand the lot to accommodate more spaces.

Back to the example

We acquire additional space adjacent to Lot “C”, and increase the number of parking spaces by 100.

At the same time, we decide to add premium permits to Lot “A” which is 10 parking spots wide and 16 rows deep. As you can imagine, the walk from the last rows could take a while, and the front spaces are more desirable. Here is an opportunity to increase revenue by charging higher fees for the premium spots closer to the building. We make rows 1-5 premium parking spaces with 25% higher fees.

Actual # of spaces Lot Name Range Plan System Start System End Permit records
108 A 1000-1999 1000 1157 158
50 A Premium 1500 1549 50
223 B 2000-2999 2000 2222 223
154 C 3000-3999 3000 3153 154

By moving 50 spaces from Lot “A” to the Lot “A Premium” we keep the 1000 range consistency for all Lot “A” permits.  And, because we planned ahead, we easily added the 100 spaces to Lot “C”.

Parking Allocation Planning

How does a parking manager decide to allocate permits to different user groups? This is a common question.

With the use of virtual lots, it’s easy to subdivide a physical lot into sub lots for different user types.  User types can be used to define who parks where in a lot and how much they pay.  An individual lot can be configured to accommodate multiple user types depending on your operations,

You can define user types based on your specific operations.  They might include annual or part time, students or staff for a campus, or other specific user groups.

Parking allocation planning also includes defining when certain permits are available for sale and when yearly permits will rollover.  The best way to understand time allocation is to think of it as a window of sales. For example, you may have time allocations set up to sell permits that are valid for an entire year, a semester, a month, etc.

Back to the example

We might decide to offer all of the Lot A Premium spaces to only a FT Staff user type.  The reasons might vary and may be because the space is preferred, closer to the building, and higher priced.  We could also create three “virtual lots” for Lot B.  The first virtual lot is for annual permits only and makes up 125 of the 223 spaces.  The remaining 98 spaces are the second virtual lot and are sold on a monthly basis with sales opening two weeks prior to the start of each month.  The permits for the first two virtual lots are valid from 7 am to 6pm, with the third virtual lot making up temporary parking access for evening parking. The lot setup allows us to accommodate different user types and maintain a high level of demand for our permits.

ParkAdmin makes it easy to set up different user types, virtual lots, and assign permit ranges.  Learn more about virtual lots or contact us for more information.