Coronavirus pandemic reflected in Tallinn's parking lots

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A parking lot in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The implementation of coronavirus spread alleviation restrictions for public spaces is also reflected in the occupancy of Tallinn's parking lots. A sudden drop in short-term parking can be noted from the start of October, similar to the drop during spring's emergency situation.

"Weekly parking data is an indicator of movement and business activity, such as service and entertainment," said Karol Kovanen, CEO of EuroPark Estonia.

Kovanen explained that parking is rarely the main service for clients, but rather a means to get to other services. This also means that parking depends on region.

"The occupancy of parking lots depends on which kinds of services and establishments are in the vicinity and what events are taking place. People are not coming to parking lots, but to somewhere they need to be and they park in the closest lot. This is why different parking lots have very different characters and their occupancy depends directly on what is happening around them," the EuroPark CEO told ERR.

"If people from office buildings go to home office and service halls are clsoed, the parking lot will be empty. If there are no events at Alexela concert hall, the parking lot will be empty. If there is construction on the neighboring plot, the parking lot is full of construction worker's cars," Kovanen explained.

He said a reflection on parking occupancy shows a lot about the general well-being of surrounding businesses: "Since many businesses and activities in Vanalinn have been closed, it is immediately reflected in parking data. If parking lots are empty, then service establishments in the area are also likely struggling," Kovanen said.

A sudden drop during emergency situation

According to EuroPark's weekly short-term parking data, the company saw more than 45,000 parking arrangements across all Tallinn parking lots weekly. After March 12, when an emergency situation was announced by the government, the number of separate parking arrangements fell under 10,000.

Change in short-term parking in EuroPark's parking lots in 2019-2020. Source: EuroPark

While parking recovered during summer, it fell once again in the start of October when infection rates in Estonia increased. Kovanen said cancellations of longer events have also contributed to the drop in parking.

He added that as parking lot costs - rent, labor, utilities - are fixed, a lack of income has caused EuroPark difficulties. "The cost structure of our activities is built on a income basis of regular conditions. It is clear that if income falls below a critical line, we are in difficulties. At the same time, it would not be responsible to do ad campaigns calling people to move around. We have decided to contribute and adapt business-wise," Kovanen noted.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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