Thesis prize awarded to Alexander Hoss

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The first Ward Vleugels Q-Park thesis prize was awarded at the Erasmus University Rotterdam to Alexander Hoss for his thesis entitled ‘On the effectiveness of downsizing: new evidence from the service industry’. This thesis is about paying for smaller units rather than the ‘normal’ price increases for parking fees.

The thesis prize has been established in cooperation with the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Q-Park. On the one hand, the Erasmus University endeavours to provide high quality academic education, embedded within societal requirements. On the other, Q-Park, as a leading company in the field of parking solutions, strives for sustainability based on the three pillars of sustainability – people, planet and profit. Both parties are convinced that this joint venture promotes student interest in research into the societal problems of parking.

The research area encompasses:

  • Parking passenger cars on the street and in purpose-built facilities;
  • The interaction with accessibility and the development of urban amenities;
  • The perception and the behaviour of the parties involved as a result of policy and operational measures as well as societal circumstances.

The prize is open to Masters' theses from all universities in the Netherlands and Flanders. In the first year in 2014, eleven Masters' theses were submitted.

A jury of academics from various universities selected three finalists from all the entries based on the economics of the submissions. A panel of experts subsequently selected a winner from the finalists.

A number of interesting conclusions and indications, some confirming earlier research and some new findings, can be derived from the total set of theses submitted:

  • It appears that people parking are less sensitive to getting fewer parking minutes for the same amount, than if the parking tariff for fixed period of time is increased. In other words, adjusting the parking tariff from EUR 1.00 per 20 minutes to EUR 1.00 per 18 minutes has less impact than increasing the tariff from EUR 1.00 per 20 minutes to EUR 1.10 per 20 minutes.
  • If residents and future residents of an inner-city area are informed of the costs of parking facilities, they place fewer demands on the parking facilities (parking spaces, walking distance, own space of shared space) than when these costs are not charged explicitly, for example included in the purchase or rental price of the accommodation.
  • In smaller municipalities with lower parking tariffs the occupancy rates (total number of hours parked) are much more sensitive to price increases than in larger municipalities with higher parking tariffs (above EUR 1.60 – EUR 2.00 per hour)
  • A relationship between parking tariffs and the proportion of shoppers coming by car to shopping areas in the Randstad conurbations was sought. Zones with the most traffic congestion also have the highest parking tariffs in order to limit the use of cars. The proportion of shoppers coming by car shows a relatively small difference for areas with paid parking compared to those with free parking. And furthermore, there is hardly any relationship between the proportion of shoppers arriving by car and the retail revenue per square metre. Areas with the highest parking tariffs exhibit equally high retail revenue per square metre.
  • The effect of parking guidance systems on motorists' behaviour is limited. The majority of motorists do see the signs, but only a limited group allows themselves to be guided. Information about parking tariffs does not seem to make a difference. Only in extreme situations will a proportion of the potential visitors look for an alternative car park than they usually use.
  • Redistributing the ownership rights on parking spaces to user rights at working and residential locations seems to be an interesting concept to enable parking spaces to be occupied more frequently and to reduce vacancy rates. This will require a shift from predetermined parking standards to a ‘responsible market supervisor’.
  • In medium-sized municipalities (20,000 – 40,000 inhabitants) it appears that locations for essential shopping where paid parking applies have an average lower revenue per square metre than at locations where parking is free. The situation is the reverse at shops for non-essential goods. Actually, the attractive shopping areas in these medium-sized municipalities sometimes experience accessibility problems which have been resolved by implementing paid parking. Despite paid parking these shopping centres remain attractive for non-essential shopping. For the essentials (such as the supermarket) it appears than many visitors then look for an alternative in the vicinity, away from the paid parking zone in the centre.