We put Adam Bidder, Managing Director of Q-Park UK to the test to find out the real reasons behind paid parking.
Q: Why do we have to pay for parking?
The truth is that ‘free parking’ simply doesn't exist. Creating, maintaining and managing parking facilities costs money and somebody must pay!
Q-Park carries out a number of customer surveys and over 86% of respondents agree that the fairest way is for car users to pay rather than the cost be covered by increases in tax payments.
Q: Is the parking charges killing city centre retail?
No, in fact, paid parking actually helps create a thriving economy! Paid parking in urban areas is vitally important for making an effective and efficient city centre with good mobility. Having ‘free’ parking in busy city centres would result in chaos with supply not being able to meet the demand. The idea of shoppers not being able to park because all the spaces are filled with early morning business traffic doesn’t lead to a thriving economy!
We fully acknowledge that we have a responsibility not only to our bottom line but also to the cities that we serve. Although we also believe that we should provide a service which adds to the customer journey experience by providing high-quality car parks which are clean, bright, ultra safe and secure with friendly parking hosts offering exceptional customer service.
So in a nutshell, having paid parking allows for car travellers to find a space more easily which reduces traffic jams, improves accessibility to promote economic growth in the city and keeps traffic moving which reduces air pollution and noise.
Q: What is the strategy behind paid parking?
First and foremost we believe that parking should be a positive experience for our customers. Our high-quality car parks are clean, bright, ultra safe and secure and adding value with exceptional customer service which is reflected by our tariffs.
Our pricing strategy is aimed at not having tariffs where we have empty car parks and reducing footfall into the city but also not pricing the tariffs too low so the car parks are full and affecting mobility within the city. We also take into account the location of the parking facility and we try to entice parkers with lower tariffs at slightly further away facilities and encouraging visitors to walk into the city. The effect of this is reducing the amount of traffic coming directly into the centre but not the footfall!
Q: So would Q-Park like to see an end to on-street parking in the UK?
We actually believe that on-street parking can play a big part in good mobility in the city.
Although we do think that on-street parking plays an important role for disabled travellers but should also be available for those people wanting to park for minutes rather than hours. This approach results in a high turnover of on-street spaces and reduces search traffic for those travellers planning on stopping for 10-15 minutes.
Q: Why are parking tariffs not consistent from one city to the next?
Well, in addition to the pricing strategies that I’ve mentioned it’s also heavily affected by the price of land. This is obviously driven by the attractiveness of the local surroundings, just like all real estate.
The price of land in Central London is very different to that in outer suburbs with less demand. The parking tariff will always reflect the success of the area rather than the tariff being a problem.
Q: Q-Park have a CSR policy, is this not a contradiction?
No, because the business that we’re in is all about helping the mobility in urban areas which executed correctly results in lower CO2 emissions and the reduction of fuel consumption. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that we highly discount season ticket rates for zero emission cars!
We also minimise the effect of our operational business by using materials which are eco-efficient where possible such as sensor controlled lighting which eliminates around 50% of wasted energy and provides an improved lighting experience.
Our charity partner is Brake the national road safety charity who exists to stop road deaths within communities and helps victims of road collisions as well. We raise awareness of the charity whenever we can and donate money towards this great cause which helps communities across the UK. The role that we play is relevant to everyone and to future generations.