Chapter 13
Automatic Parking

To help alleviate highway traffic jams we add more highway lanes, but adding more lanes on urban streets is usually out of the question.  In fact, in a few older U.S. cities and many foreign cities, in some places there is only room enough between some buildings for a single-lane one-way street with no parking. 

         The dualmode system will greatly reduce traffic on our highways by switching most of the highway traffic to the guideways.  But if an increasing number of cars exit from the new guideways into urban areas to park manually, the urban street traffic and parking problems would continue to worsen. 

Fortunately REV can and will largely eliminate street congestion as well as highway congestion.  Instead of leaving the guideways and then manually parking our REV cars in street mode, automatic parking will be provided directly from the guideways in urban and other dense destinations such as sport stadiums.  This will eliminate the street-mode portion at the city end of a high percentage of guideway trips entirely.  Gone would be the frustrating, time-consuming, and traffic-congestion-causing circulation of cars looking for parking places.  Human drivers have to blindly search for parking spots, but the automatic system will know exactly where all empty stalls are and send a car directly to the closest one.  This will save energy as well as reduce street traffic.  And since the occupants of a car will leave it before it is parked, they will save time.  On guideway trips that originate and end in congested areas (in the same or different cities), with automatic parking from the guideways we can avoid the use of the street-mode at both ends of the trips. 

I suggest that most of the automatic parking systems connected to the guideways be privately owned and operated, the same as parking lots, parking garages, and basement parking facilities in buildings now are.  At their choice, businesses will be able to provide either pay or free automatic parking from the guideways for their customers and employees, the same as many businesses now provide parking for customers.  Future business advertisements may carry the enticing words “Guideway Parking.” 

A vehicle on a guideway-parking ramp will stop at a covered drop-off place, usually next to the elevators of a building.  Its occupants will get out and lock it.  The “abandoned” vehicle, still on a guideway ramp, will then be automatically parked faster and in less space than is required for driver-parked cars. 

If the parking installation is large, a large number of drop-off and pick-up spaces will be provided in order to avoid excessive delays at rush times.  It will be possible to clear a stadium or concert hall area many times faster that we now do with acres of walk-in-the-rain parking lots. 

When ready to leave the event, mall, or building a car owner will insert a card identifying his or her car into a scanner.  Card scanning or cash will be used to pay for the parking where it is not free.  The system will then deliver the car to that pickup place (valet parking with no valet to tip).  On leaving the automatic parking area the driver will have the option of staying in the guideway system, or exiting to the streets. 

Note that a private vehicle will sometimes make a trip into the city and back, yet never run on the city streets.  On the guideways drivers could nap all the way to the office.  And there will be no time spent in looking for a parking space or walking to and from the parking space, no parking-violation tickets, no opportunity for other cars or careless parking-garage drivers to ding up the vehicle, no threat of hoodlums vandalizing it, and no way it could be stolen. 

An automatic guideway-parking facility will be expensive to install, but its efficiency, convenience and appeal will enable it to more than pay for itself.  Since automatic parking from the guideways will greatly reduce street traffic and its many associated costs, speed up emergency services, and make cities more productive and livable, it may make sense for city governments to subsidize guideway-parking installations, both in new buildings and during upgrades of existing buildings. 

Automatic or “robotic” parking systems are already developed and being used for regular automobiles worldwide.  A March 27, 2006 Google search found two and a quarter million items under “automatic parking garage.”  There are many automatic systems available in which the cars are parked in customary rectangular patterns, and some new ones that park the cars in a multi-level radial configuration inside of a huge cylinder, either below or above ground.  Adapting these automatic systems for guideway cars will be straightforward. 

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Last modified: August 02, 2006