All posts in “parking”

Lyft reveals surprising results from its ’Ditch Your Car Challenge’

Why drive when Lyft's paying for your ride?
Why drive when Lyft’s paying for your ride?

Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

For 30 days in October and November, 2,000 people across 35 North American cities vowed to get around without driving their own vehicle — with a little help from ride-hailing app Lyft.

The Ditch Your Car Challenge offered personal driving alternatives, paid for by Lyft. More than 130,000 offered to participate in the challenge. In the end, only 1.5 percent of those were chosen to receive these credits for a month of commuting:

  • $300 Lyft Shared ride credit or Lyft all-access plan (if Shared rides weren’t available in your city)

  • $45 bike-share credit

  • $100 Zipcar car-sharing credit

  • $105 public transit monthly pass

Following the month, it wasn’t that surprising to see the highest ranking forms of transportation for commutes were 75 percent for ride-sharing, then 42 percent for public transit, and then 32 percent for walking, which didn’t even offer anyone any credit from Lyft. 

Ride-sharing funds for the month were the highest ($300 of the $550 available) and came with the easiest buy-in — challengers likely already had the Lyft app downloaded and didn’t have to sign up for a new service like a bike-share or car-sharing program. And quick reminder, this challenge was from Lyft hoping to encourage future use of its platform, not the local bus system.

Even less surprising, 99 percent of people said they would participate in the challenge again if they could — I mean it was essentially free money to get around for 30 days. Why wouldn’t you want that? That 1 percent must really like their car.

Breanna Ruby, a 24-year-old challenge participant in the St. Louis, Missouri area, said in a phone call she went in assuming the challenge would be easy, but quickly realized it was indeed a challenge. “I would have to relinquish control over my commute and life,” she said about depending on a car service and the light-rail public transit system to get to work. She would have to plan ahead instead of jumping in her car whenever she wanted.

Some post-challenge findings were more aspirational, with 53 percent of participants saying they plan to use their car less after the Lyft-sponsored ditch. Not even 30 percent said they’d use public transit more, but more than 50 percent said they’d opt for a shared ride on a ride-hailing app. 

The results from the challenge match ride-sharing patterns discovered in a consumer preference survey from consumer insights company Crimson Hexagon earlier this year that found ride-sharing is more popular than ever.

Ride-sharing is getting more popular.

Image: crimson hexagon

Looking at online posts about transportation, people are talking more about ride-sharing than public transit. That’s a trend only going up in the past few years. Uber and Lyft are a growing part of the transportation lexicon, and considered a top option to get around.

One testimonial Lyft shared from a post-challenge survey noted the experience using more ride-sharing was “very economical…I feel like it’s the perfect choice between public transit and driving a single occupancy vehicle.”

And it seems like it should be that way, but recent research indicates that ride-sharing apps are adding to road congestion, not decreasing it. Instead of using more efficient public transit, more people are getting into cars they can order from their phones.

Recently the National Parking Association commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to research congestion in cities, and also found that ride-sharing increases congestion. The researchers even predict the eventual arrival of fully autonomous vehicles could worsen traffic and dissuade more people from public transit. To combat our busy streets, researchers suggest changing the way cities use space for street parking, optimizing streets for deliveries and ride-sharing drop-offs and pick-ups, and reconfiguring lanes for bike- and scooter-shares, among other ideas. 

The main finding from the Lyft experiment: if you pay people they’ll give up anything.

UPDATE: Dec. 13, 2018, 11:12 a.m. PST Updated to include comments from a challenge participant.

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SoftBank invests in parking startup ParkJockey pushing valuation to $1 billion

SoftBank continues to invest in the future of transportation — this time in ParkJockey, a startup that has built a technology platform aimed at monetizing parking lots. And ParkJockey, which was founded in 2013, is already using that capital to scale up.

Along with the SoftBank investment news, ParkJockey also announced that it was acquiring two of the largest parking operators in North America. The startup, with help from Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Capital and debt financing from Owl Rock, said it had reached an agreement to acquire Imperial Parking Corporation, a North American-based parking management company often referred to as Impark. The agreement follows ParkJockey’s acquisition of parking management operator Citizens Parking Inc.

The investment puts the ParkJockey valuation to more than $1 billion, reported Miami Herald.

Miami-based ParkJockey developed a parking management platform that helps commercial property owners better monetize parking lots as well as handle operations at large venues and stadiums. The company’s platform offers features like automatic license plate recognition and pay-by-app, among others.  The company’s app also can be used by drivers to find parking spaces more efficiently.

Financial terms of the SoftBank investment or the acquisitions weren’t disclosed. The announcement follows an Axios article last week that reported SoftBank was backing the startup.

The Impark transaction is subject to regulatory approvals. The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2019, ParkJockey said. 

SoftBank’s investment in parking might seem rather, well, pedestrian. It’s actually a bet on an automated future from present-day parking management issues like electric vehicle charging, designated areas for ride-hailing and automatic pay, as well as a day when vehicles are fully autonomous.

Future cars could park themselves, even in the toughest spots

Forget self-driving cars. The future is all about self-parking cars.

For anyone still traumatized from learning how to parallel park, a new patent from Bay Area-based electric vehicle company SF Motors will soothe your bumper-filled nightmares.

The company’s approved patent for design and methodology for a self-parking system takes sensors, cameras, and LIDAR (a laser system to measure distance between objects) to supply data to a computer that can direct the car on how to park. The system with sensors is mounted on the car at bumper level for prime parking data collection.

A look at the patent application approved last month shows how the sensors tell the parking system about objects that may exist as well as how far away they are. In the patent, SF Motors says the cameras can identify pedestrians, cyclists, cars, parking spot lines, markers, signs, curbs, trees, roads, and other things you’d find on a street or in a parking lot. 

How the self-parking feature works.

How the self-parking feature works.

Image: sf motors

It’s like that self-docking boat from Volvo, but way more useful for all of us who actually have a car. SF Motors says the self-parking feature can work in most conditions regardless of the weather or visibility outside. “Hand, facial or body gestures or cues to signal intentions between human operators can be limited or impossible under poor visibility conditions such as at night or during poor weather,” the patent reads, knocking humans abilities to gauge whether you’ll actually fit into that spot or not. 

This also seems like a swipe at Tesla’s self-parking and summon features available on its driver assistance system, Autopilot. Tesla’s autonomous parking capabilities are fairly limited to clear-cut spots like those in lots or in garages.

Now that SF Motors has the patent, they want to incorporate it into their vision for an intelligent electric vehicle that has other autonomous features, like those that help with safe driving.

The company plans to have its first vehicle equipped with features like this autonomous parking sensor available in China toward the end of next year.

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Bird will let you complain about bad e-scooter parking

Mind how you park your Bird.
Mind how you park your Bird.

Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Irresponsible scooter parking is the scourge of any city overrun with the motorized devices. So on Thursday, e-scooter company Bird unleashed “Community Mode” on its app, which includes a way to report or complain about bad parking jobs or damaged Birds blighting city streets.

The new feature is part of Bird’s GovTech platform that lets cities work with the scooters within established transportation systems. That was released a few months ago, but now the Bird reporting is open to anyone on the app. Bird said cities will see the option in the coming weeks.

The Bird app lets you report problem scooters.

The Bird app lets you report problem scooters.

Image: bird

Through the Bird app you can report a Bird parked in the wrong spot or a broken Bird lying around blocking things. Once it’s reported, the scooter service will send someone out to reposition the vehicle. For damaged scooters, so-called “mechanics” will head out to remove the device and get it repaired. 

For those who want to complain about Birds strewn every which way on city streets, you have to download the app. It’s not a total free-for-all for all the Bird haters out there.

More importantly, will Bird start to track down the last rider on poorly-parked scooters? The company hasn’t said so, but I could see a future with fees added to your account for leaving a Bird in the middle of the sidewalk or in front of a shop door.

It could soon be time to shape up our sloppy parking ways. Bird competitor Lime already claims to have e-scooters that can detect if you’re riding on the sidewalk or in a no-parking zone.

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BMW acquires Parkmobile parking app to help tackle city traffic

BMW has acquired Parkmobile, an app that provides guidance and services for those looking for parking in North America, including on-street and garage parking payments and spot reservation. BMW Group had already held a minority investment in the company, and owned its Parkmobile Group Europe affiliate, but today it increased its holdings to reach majority ownership of Parkmobile, LLC, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

This will provide BMW with a significant foothold in the U.S. parking services market, since Parkmobile is available in over 300 cities stateside, including NYC, Philadelphia and Phoenix, to name just a few. Parkmobile will become part of BMW Group’s Mobility Services portfolio, which is expanding in scope and influence now that mobility is an area of increasing interest for automakers in general.

The Parkmobile acquisition will also help address a growing issue for anyone seeking to get people around within cities: Traffic. BMW points out that as much as 30 percent of traffic in any given city is caused by people looking for spots to park. Especially when a city is unfamiliar, figuring out where and when you can park is a daunting challenge, and one that can cause a lot of hesitation and stop-start driving on busy streets.

Parkmobile processed 50 million transactions from people finding parking in North America last year, and reach over 8 million registered users. It also worked with BMW on building its services directly into the vehicle, and I’d expect that to continue now that they’re one and the same.