A strong sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is embedded in everything that Q-Park does as a company. It underpins every major management decision, every new project, and every engagement we have with our community of users. It’s part of our Quintessence, which is how we bring together all of our ideas about regulated and paid parking, and about how we work with our partners and stakeholders to contribute to the quality of life in our cities.
The fundamental choice for functional quality forms the core of our vision on our corporate social responsibility. With our parking facilities and associated services for our parking customers, Q-Park wants to be an integral part of the mobility chain. Regulated and paid parking, preferably in clean and safe facilities, offers an answer to the current and future challenges posed by the urban environment. It is on these topics that we engage in dialogue with local authorities.
The five major challenges faced by cities today relate to mobility, facility, society, economy and environment. In each of these areas paid parking has a role to play. We have a programme of CSR actions designed to meet these challenges, and we monitor our progress against well-defined benchmarks and performance indicators. For more details, please read our CSR Report online.
Supporting responsible mobility
Cities have to contend with limited space to facilitate mobility, while the number of cars continues to grow. Together with its partners, Q-Park is committed to a coherent mobility policy in which economic growth, quality of life, sustainable development, and environmental protection go hand in hand.
A regulated parking and a well-thought-out pricing policy as part of the city mobility policy helps to manage the growing demand. It also shifts the cost to the user and limits unnecessary car use. Additionally, linking parking facilities with public transport, for instance by creating sufficient parking spaces for those who continue their journey by public transport and combining paid parking and public transport season tickets, also offers opportunities.
The ideal parking tariff
Ideal parking tariffs are part of the mobility policy. They encourage motorists to look for cheaper alternatives, such as another means of transport (public transport or bicycle) or to park away from the centre.
A parking tariff set by market forces helps to distribute parking spaces efficiently. There is therefore always sufficient space for those who want to pay to park in the inner city. Q-Park has extensive knowledge of this topic and advises city councils in this area.
- By providing parking spaces that integrate with public transport provision – at public transport nodes such as bus and train stations;
- By integrating with navigation systems to guide motorists to available parking spaces;
- By working within public–private partnerships (PPPs) to develop appropriate and sustainable parking facilities that meet the needs of motorists.
Responsible facility: enabling access
Parking facilities are the showpiece for a city, shopping centre, station or hospital. At least, if they offer hospitality, because it is an art to make them both functional and attractive. Q-Park is committed to making parking facilities which are easy to find and accessible, available and easy to use, and which are also clean and safe and fit in with their surroundings.
Many private parking facilities are empty in the evenings and at weekends. To make better use of the limited space available, we work together with the owners of these locations to open them up for short-term parking. For this, we have developed a specific service whereby we also create value.
The user or the local authority pays for the facilities which are essential to an attractive, accessible and viable city. Parking is not an end in itself. It is the shops, cafés and restaurants, offices, culture, nightlife and centres of education that attract people.
Visitors want to park their car near their destination. For them, the price is less important than being able to park nearby. Currently, some cities are developing into magnets, and for these centres, offering free parking is not the solution.
All of our parking facilities work within cities to facilitate access to homes, workplaces, offices and shops, and to places of leisure and recreation. Many of our facilities integrate with public transport hubs and facilitate transfer from the private car to public transport.
We make sure that our facilities are easy to use and provide parking customers with as pleasant an experience as possible. Friendly staff, appropriate and visible security, generous parking bays, a clean and well-lit environment, and clearly marked parking routes – these are all qualities that set Q-Park apart, but they also make it easy for customers to access their destinations, and they are part of the way we meet our responsibilities to our customers and to the destinations we serve.
Thinking of the wider society
Parking facilities are more expensive and more sustainable than on-street and off-street parking. Compared to the higher cost of construction, operation and maintenance, a car park contributes to pedestrian-friendly and high-quality public spaces.
A well-organised urban area offers ample space and encourages people to move around on foot, by bike or by public transport, which has a positive influence on their health and wellbeing. Q-Park is not in favour of unnecessary car usage, but promotes good parking facilities that function as nodes. Squares and streets change from traffic areas to places where people can move informally, safely and socially. In addition, a clean and safe parking facility seems to encourage responsible behaviour, not only in the facility but also in the surrounding area.
As parking company, Q-Park offers interesting attractive work for people who like to take a practical approach. Our Parking Hosts and call centre staff are the local face or the familiar voice of Q-Park. They have direct contact with the customer and make the difference. We ensure that our employees are well-trained and have customer focus. We also work on improving their resilience to aggression or violence, because that occurs occasionally.
The great convenience and increased mobility that the car brings comes at a price. We need to think of the costs of maintaining the roads and infrastructure as well as the economic and environmental damage caused by traffic congestion. And we must also consider the loss of usable public space that occurs when we allow cars to park ‘for free’ on our city streets.
Increasingly, civic leaders are realising that the more public space we make available for cars, the less there is for people. This is especially the case where there is no charge for on-street parking. We need to remind ourselves that there is no such thing as free parking: somebody always pays.
- Move towards a more sustainable and socially responsible model of car use;
- Liberate urban streets for more exclusively human use; and
- Encourage responsible behaviour among users who are influenced by our clean, safe and welcoming environments.
Furthering economic well-being
The population is still growing and urbanisation continues. More than two-thirds of all Europeans live in urban areas. This is also where approximately 85 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is generated. This increasing economic activity also has consequences for the quality of life.
Cities have to contend with congestion, traffic cruising for a place to park, reduced accessibility, air pollution, and unattractive and unsafe streets and squares, full of parked cars. To prevent economic activity coming to a standstill, it is essential to develop and pursue an integral mobility policy.
- Help achieve a sustainable balance between private and public transport – in particular, by encouraging the use of public transport alternatives where these are available; and
- Reduce the gap between the cost of parking to society and the costs that users pay – effectively, users of parking facilities are making a contribution towards the full cost of providing the road and parking infrastructure.
Improving the environment
Paid parking helps reduce car usage in cities, thus also reducing CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Good traffic flow, for instance with parking route information systems, has a positive effect on air quality. Dynamic parking tariffs - more expensive during peak hours - help to channel car usage.
In an increasing number of Q-Park parking facilities, customers can recharge their electric car. We also reserve special parking spaces for partners who offer car sharing programmes.
Q-Park endeavours to improve the environmental performance of its own parking facilities, its fleet, and its offices. In addition, we seek to influence the environmental performance of our major business partners in the value chain.
- When designing, constructing and renovating parking facilities, we use the most sustainable methodologies available.
- In saving energy, we install LED lighting and emphasise operational measures, such as lighting sensors and time switches. We make all of our staff aware of the costs of energy consumption and of how they have a role in reducing these costs.
- We are actively committed to making our own mobility more sustainable. We travel less frequently than in the past; and when we do, we use more sustainable modes such as public transport or more environmentally friendly cars.
Cities are the undisputable engines of Europe – and these engines are increasingly becoming choked. Regulated and paid parking are therefore logical choices for cities faced with the following five challenges: Mobility – Facility – Society – Economy – Environment.
The Q-Park Quintessence is about regulated and paid parking as a solution for these five urban challenges as it is a particularly effective instrument for influencing mobility and keeping the urban engine from ticking over.
Our Quintessence is to guide those who are interested along the way of understanding ‘the logic of regulated and paid parking’. As a mnemonic, Quintessence is illustrated as a five point guiding star, where each point in itself is a good reason to regulate or pay for parking.