A colleague once taught me the the “5 W’s + H” of transportation planning: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and... How much parking will be removed. (It made me laugh.) Parking is one of the most important aspects of urban transportation policy. And in the world of transportation demand management (TDM), it’s the linchpin to travel behaviour change, yet is seemingly a third rail in local politics. I’ve sought to address it head-on in my academic and professional pursuits.
Driving Change: How Workplace Benefits Can Nudge Solo Car Commuters Towards Alternative Modes
My graduate research at MIT focused on how employers can reduce parking demand by restructuring how parking benefits are provided (spoiler: pricing by day, rather than by month, or offering cash-in-lieu of parking benefits are winners!) and by offering creative transit subsidies (such as monthly passes paid for on a per-trip basis by the employer).
In implementing the research, we were able to reduce parking demand on MIT campus by almost ten percent, while saving the Institute money in the long term.
The research has attracted attention beyond MIT, and I’ve presented to universities, cities, and several TDM conferences on the subject.
Grand Prize Winner
International Parking Solutions Competition
Perhaps the most unexpected avenue for sharing my research was at the 2017 conference of the International Parking Institute (or IPI - yes, it’s a thing) in New Orleans.
I gave a “Shark Tank”-style pitch of my parking research before a panel of judges, who critiqued my proposal for how employers can get a handle on their commuters’ travel behaviour.
Despite the lack of glitzy apps or AI machine learning in my pitch, the panel was sold on the value of appealing to human psychology when reforming commuter benefits.
Here’s a brief interview on my experience.
Parking Entrepreneurialism: MIT Sloan School of Management
Inspired by my experience at the IPI, I enrolled in a course at the MIT Sloan School of Management, “Sustainability-Oriented Innovation and Entrepreneurship” with Professor Jason Jay. In this course, I worked with a classmate to develop a concept, value proposition and preliminary business model for a workplace-based TDM platform. We demonstrated a proof-of-concept through my MIT Transit Lab research with Boston area employers.
While we decided not to pursue the business after the academic term ended, the experience served as a valuable bridge between academic theory and commercialization. I have since engaged with faculty at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning on grant proposals in partnership with parking industry groups.