Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sooner or later, a visitor or resident of New York City, regardless of whether they own a car or not, will most likely have to deal one of the least favorite activities here - parking. Visitors unfamiliar with the situation should be ready for sticker shock.
A careful and resourceful individual can shop most any commodity or service in this city and find a broad range of pricing. However, anything requiring the rental of SPACE is going to cost you dearly here - there is only so much to go around. The garage in today's photo is $400 per month, with an additional $422 per month for exotic cars. See the rate sign here.
One fascinating development is automated parking garages. Manhattan's first is in Chinatown, at 123 Baxter Street. Here, beneath 24 condos, are 74 parking spots in an automated garage. The system is the work of AutoMotion Parking Systems, an American subsidiary of Stolzer Parkhaus of Strassburg, Germany, which has built 28 automated garages in 11 countries since their first in 1996 in Kronach, Germany. Benefits include reduced cost due to reduction of personnel and more efficient packing of autos. See the New York Times article here.
The wildest twist on parking is a German company, CarLoft (carloft.de), which is building an apartment tower in Berlin that permits residents to park their cars on their balconies. Similar ideas are brewing Manhattan. From the New York Times article:
A German company, CarLoft (carloft.de), is building an apartment tower in Berlin that lets residents park their cars on their balconies. A New York architect, Annabelle Selldorf, has offered a similar vision for a Manhattan building with elevators that would let tenants drive their cars into garages next to their high-rise apartments.
There are many other recent developments in the city to reduce cost, increase efficiency, and provide consumers with more information. There are Zipcars for short term rentals, Internet sites to find parking spots, websites for comparison shopping, and competitive bidding for monthly garage space.
Some may argue for elimination or drastic reduction of cars altogether. Within city limits and nearby suburbs, the subway or train system is the best method of travel.
One problem lies with travel to areas outside New York City with no public transportation at all, which is quite common in the United States, even in parts of the Northeast with a high population density. For example, I grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, with a population over 60,000 (the eleventh largest city in the state), but there is no public transportation. Getting there will require car travel at some point in the journey.
Rail travel is much more deeply implemented in many developed countries outside the US. Here, buses are, by default, the public transportation of choice for many destinations. The Chinatown bus revolution, led by Fung Wah, has brought pricing to much more attractive levels.
Personally, I always thought a good online rideshare/carpool system would be useful for trips out of the city, not just for commuting to work. There are so many people who travel alone by car - it seems such a waste of resources. My online searches, however, yield few promising results. I think there is a critical mass at work here - without a substantial number involved, there just isn't enough momentum to make it viable. The websites I found had a serious dearth of rides offered or wanted. Safety with unknown passengers is a big issue here - perhaps one of the biggest impasses.
There are many problems with automobiles, parking, congestion, and public transportation. There are also many proposed solutions. I hope for successful implementation in the near future, so we can truly Pull Ahead :)