Ellen Perlman was a GOVERNING staff writer and technology columnist.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
There I was, late as usual for a flight at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. I had visions of the long-term parking shuttle bus lurching around the huge lot making stop after stop to pick up a person here at stop #4, a person there at stop #19. I decided to pull into the daily garage, after learning, from very good signage on the main road, that it was only two dollars more per day.
That's when I discovered parking nirvana -- a smart garage.
Instead of loop-de-looping up and down rows looking for a space, I took my cue from lit-up, overhead numbers, accurate to within seconds, that showed me that there were oodles of spaces on the sixth level. I was able to shoot right up to it without driving from end to end of each floor, as some garages make you do.
Image via Flickr, from Clearly Ambiguous
Once on the sixth level, I drove past parking several rows with overhead numbers, skipping the ones showing there were only a few spaces available. I pulled into a row with dozens available, according to the numbers, and found a spot immediately. I gathered my belongings and headed for the elevator. Another revelation.
Instead of one elevator at one end of the garage, there are three sets of elevators spaced out so no parker is far from one. No parker feels like a loser stuck at the far end. I hate feeling like a down-at-the-wrong-end-of-the-lot parking loser, don't you? Nevermind having to drag my things a long way.
After parking, people are fed by those elevators down to three shuttle stops conveniently located right outside the elevators. Buses can pick up their charges and be on their way quickly, without all that stopping and starting that shuttles have to do at the 20 or more stops in the long-term lot. I made my flight with time to spare.
Things were just as good on the return trip. The shuttle dropped people off at the three stops. They prepaid their parking fee at machines near the elevators before going to their cars. That spaced out the exiting of cars. No idling behind the tailpipe in front of you. People lines are much more environmentally friendly than car lines. By the time I drove to the exit there were few other cars in sight. I inserted my pre-paid ticket into a slot and the gate opened. Off I went.
In and out with no cussing. That's my idea of parking heaven.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.