Walker Consultants has worked with Emory University on a variety of parking, transportation, and restoration projects since 2007.
Walker was engaged with the University on a parking equipment upgrade project when the COVID-19 pandemic began, resulting in a sudden change in parking demand. Walker worked with Emory to use this equipment upgrade as an opportunity to evaluate its permit system and introduce new flexibility for its customers, both during and after the pandemic.
The University previously sold long-term parking permits, which were relatively simple to manage, but had several downsides. Pre-paying for an entire semester of parking encouraged single-occupancy vehicle trips and congestion on campus, working against the University’s environmental and sustainability goals. For customers, the cost of long-term permits could be prohibitive, and the available locations less than ideal. With the pandemic resulting in many employees and students only visiting campus occasionally, long-term permits were no longer ideal for customers.
Walker worked with Emory to switch from long-term permits to daily parking decisions. Parking privileges were also temporarily revamped to allow employees and students to park closer to their destination, reducing demand on the University’s shuttle system, which was operating with limited capacity during the pandemic. The decision to switch was made only two months before the beginning of the semester, and Walker worked with the University to set up the new program in only six weeks.
Emory is now prepared with the tools and structures it needs to further adapt its parking permit system as demand evolves after the pandemic. While no plans have yet been made, there will be opportunities for the University to strategically set pricing and privileges to distribute parking demand evenly through the system, improve the customer experience, and encourage use of shuttles, carpools, and transit. In the long term, this flexibility can also help the University ensure its parking system remains self-supporting.