Q+A with Charley DeBow: Parking and Mobility
Q+A with Charley DeBow: Parking and Mobility
Charley DeBow joined Parkhub in 2021, as the company acquired his payments integration startup for parking management, CurbTrac. Now, with CurbTrac fully integrated with the company’s suite of parking management, payments, and business intelligence solutions, Charley heads up the business development’s focus area of strategic partnerships.
A parking industry veteran of two decades, Charley DeBow brings the unique perspectives he developed from running commercial parking in his native Philadelphia and municipal operations in State College Pennsylvania, as well as his time working for parking technology firms like Premium Parking and Parkmobile.
We sat down with Charley ahead of his panel appearance on the topic of parking and mobility at the 2022 VenuesNow Conference in Austin this week.
ParkHub News: Where do you see the role of the parking industry with regard to promoting mobility?
Charley DeBow: I can be perceived as a bit of a contrarian sometimes, because I don’t see parking as a direct player in the mobility space, but more of a partner that optimizes at the edges. And that’s because we don’t actually move people–we’re more of an endpoint in their journey. We’re not trains, buses, or scooters, so I don’t see us as inside the mobility framework that municipal leaders need to consider. Yet, we do have a role to play and an impact to make through that role, especially in the urban core. We can be a part of solutions that turn stops or terminals into hubs, so that citizens can change modes of transportation to achieve what mobility is all about–moving people safely, efficiently, and affordably.
ParkHub News: What’s does mobility do for parking in return?
Charley DeBow: Again, in the urban core, where most arenas and other sports and entertainment venues are now located, we’ve seen cities around the country invest in modes of transportation like light rail and street cars to increase mobility. When this happens, people coming from the suburbs and farther out can have a better arena experience with fewer traffic jams associated with events. Ultimately, this means venue operators and their parking partners will see increased revenue from those better experiences over time. With the advancement of ParkHub’s technology we can now start to change customer behavior with event parking. The old ways of charging a flat amount for parking may be numbered. Incentivizing people to come early, or penalizing them to come 30 minutes before kickoff with a higher fee is now possible with the digitization of payments.
ParkHub News: In what other ways is the parking industry impacting quality of life in cities?
Charley DeBow: First, unlike many aspects of municipal services, we’re a revenue generator rather than a cost center. Parking management, done right, can bring in significant revenue that’s ultimately targeted to pay for infrastructure investments and other budgetary needs. Some forward-thinking leaders are looking at reinvesting parking revenues within local neighborhoods where the lots, decks, and street parking assets are located.
But it doesn’t all boil down to municipal revenue. You can also use parking management to increase quality of life and give urban businesses a boost. When I managed parking in State College, nuanced changes to paid parking hours versus free hours, as well as where those spaces were targeted, made certain parking facilities available to workers at downtown businesses at reduced rates. In turn, we freed up spaces in closer proximity to area businesses for patrons to utilize. Agile parking management has always been an area of expertise, a skill to be honed over time.
Now, with tools like we have at ParkHub, we’re giving both municipal and private sector operators the tools to ramp up their management expertise much more quickly and efficiently. The data and associated insights are just much better, and getting more so all the time.
ParkHub News: Any final thoughts on parking and mobility?
Charley DeBow: Mobility is in a state of continuous innovation, and to play a role in that innovation, we have to be thinking about parking as part of a journey that usually involves different modes of transportation. For example, if I want to go to a baseball game here in Philadelphia, it may take me an hour-and-a-half to drive to the ballpark. Not optimal, right? If I have a combination of trains and buses that take me most of the way there in 30-45 minutes, that might take my car off the road and many more. However, if I have a five to 15-minute drive to a parking deck located next to a train station, and that deck is dark, unsafe, is noted for break-ins, and has outmoded payment systems like cash or honor boxes, I start to reconsider the hassle of public transportation.
So, parking has a role to play in making that experience frictionless from a payments standpoint – perhaps integrated with rail passes – and perhaps we can use IoT technology to improve and automate lighting and other aspects of the experience to promote safety and accessibility. It’s a combination of a lot of small, yet painful considerations – and we’re used to thinking about these things in parking technology – where we can have a real impact in moving mobility forward faster.
ParkHub is optimizing the world’s journeys by providing cutting-edge enterprise technology to support the parking industry. The company’s products offer contactless payment options, real-time operational data, robust performance analytics, and leading integrations with ticketing and parking reservation providers. For more information, visit parkhub.com.