Another Automotive First For Malaysia
Parking in Kuala Lumpur is just like parking in any metropolitan city – agonising. Going round and round looking for an empty parking spot, while other cars are also vying for the same few bays that sporadically become available, makes up a significant portion of the journey time – the incredibly frustrating portion.
Scott Badger, who has lived in Kuala Lumpur for eight years, is all too familiar with the experience. “One night, while out in Changkat Bukit Bintang and seeing the bad traffic made worse by cars parked on either side of the roads, my business partner Sven thought the situation was ridiculous,” he said. “Just a short distance away in any number of condominiums, there were ample empty parking bays. The idea grew from there.”
It was then that Scott, together with his business partner Sven Janson, began developing Bayz Parking, a mobile app that connects drivers to under-utilised parking bays in the vicinity of their destination. The app allows hotels and other commercial buildings, as well as individual parking space owners to rent out their empty parking bays.
“We’ve spoken to a number of hotels and condominium management groups, and they have been very receptive to the idea,” Scott said. “At the moment, we have more than 2,000 bays registered, across Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru, and we’re working to grow this number.”
Drivers will be able to easily find registered parking bays in the vicinity of their destination; they can then make a booking and arrive within the stipulated time or use the ‘I’m Late’ option if they are delayed – and in our neck of the woods, punctuality is a strange, strange notion.
All transactions will be cashless – i.e. via pre-loaded credit or debit card – which means that users do not have to look for autopay machines or fumble for loose change. Scott said that parking rates will vary according to location, but they will be competitive with or cheaper than what is charged by conventional parking lot operators.
Security is the first concern that comes to mind, especially since the app allows entry of non-residents into residential buildings. “There are several layers of verification, not dissimilar to Airbnb, whereby the app will collect Facebook profile, phone number and credit card details,” Scott explained. “The security guard will be able to see the profile picture and car registration number of the user, and the time he or she is expected to arrive.”
“There is also a feedback feature for parking bay owners to report misbehaviour, so that we can block users who abuse the service,” he added.
Bayz Parking is not the first app developed to tackle the parking problem in Malaysia. Government-funded ParkEasy was launched last year, and uses a peer2peer system that connects users who have just arrived at the destination with those who are about to leave, allowing them to swap places. The company had earlier dabbled with the idea of allowing users to book parking spots and displaying the license plate number on an LED signboard above the reserved bay, which drew much criticism from the public.
Scott is keenly aware of the challenges that other parking apps face. “Current parking apps often only map existing supply, tend to suffer from limited geographical coverage and can be hardware-heavy. These are shortcomings that we have strived to overcome with our app,” he said.
Bayz Parking is in the final stages of development, and is expected to launch in January 2017. Interested parking bay owners can already start signing up at www.bayzparking.com or email [email protected].