Ford Parking Solution Hints of Bigger Mobility Issue at Hand

Ford Research and innovation Campus (RIC)
A new Ford parking solution | Ford

Ford Motor Company has been on the job trying to improve mobility while doing the usual product development work you expect from a huge automaker. In the effort to reduce issues with parking, the FordPass team leaned on results of a Harris Poll that revealed extreme distaste for delays that drivers encounter when trying to drop off the car after the commute. While offering a solution, Ford’s data also suggested an excellent way to counteract the ugly realities of modern commuting.

According to the poll commissioned by Ford, 34% of drivers said they choose not to drive to work or school because of issues with parking. Instead, they take public transportation services — including ride-share services, buses, and taxis — in order to make it on time and do so with considerably less stress. By clicking onto the FordPass app, anyone can book and pay for parking before heading out the door. So much for parking anxiety.

Parking feature of FordPass
Use the FordPass app to reserve and pay for parking, with or without a Ford | Ford

Over here at the Hybrids & EVs desk, it got us thinking about the other side of that Harris Poll. Many drivers have thrown up their hands in despair at the parking situation for two reasons: a) the stress and b) the time wasted. Those who responded said they spend an average of 14 minutes looking for a spot before heading into work or school. That’s 70 minutes a week parking a car.

There are several positives involved when drivers leave the car at home and take public transportation. For starters, the traffic on the morning commute becomes more bearable and more efficient for those not traveling underground. Buses and ride-share carpools only get the job done when streets are not snarled in gridlock. So municipal officials may want to make parking even more difficult if mobility is the primary concern. Sounds counterintuitive, right?

Source: iStock
This type of parking situation is rare in U.S. cities | iStock

By our math, the percentage of drivers opting out of the morning commute would grow significantly higher than 34% the closer parking got to impossible. New York City, always a good test lab for congestion and parking issues, has done its best to scare away drivers with high parking fees and the occasional removal of street spots to make way for Citi Bike and other community-oriented projects.

Everyone who drives in New York knows a big problem is the delays caused by vehicles circling the block as drivers look for parking spaces. Not only does this issue create delays; it also prompts horn-honking sessions and confrontations between drivers everyone could do without. So there is the quality of life factor to consider here as well.

Some people have to commute to their jobs because there are no public transportation options. Likewise, a vehicle may be essential to perform a day’s work. These cases are not the problem. The problem is drivers choosing to travel alone when there are other options. It’s a free country and you can’t ban commuting. But — as some cities have done — you can make it more inconvenient for drivers to park downtown, thus de-incentivizing the commute.

Who are the losers in this scenario? Drivers are likely to save on the cost of a commute by pooling their resources, while parking fees would be eliminated. Meanwhile, the dip in traffic would be beneficial to all parties. Maybe a few wrongs (i.e., raising parking fees and limiting spots) can make a right after all.

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