Chris Moerdyk

My kingdom for a parking garage

2013-01-21 11:14

Chris Moerdyk

Parents who persuade their children to become doctors, architects, airline pilots, engineers or even plumbers and electricians might be doing their offspring a disservice.

They should be trying to get them to aspire to owning a parking garage - preferably at an airport. That has to be the most secure and financially rewarding career known to mankind.

When you think about it, owning a parking garage at an airport has got to be the easiest way on earth to make money.  At a rate of R14 an hour just to pop in to meet someone, this is money for jam.

After all, it's just a vast open space with lines painted on the floor. Apart from a few light bulbs, a meagre supply of lavatories and a computerised thingummybob that swallows your money in exchange for making a very simple boom go up and down, there is nothing to running a parking garage.

Ok, so it makes motorists feel a bit more comfortable when they see the occasional security guard riding about on a bicycle, but if you look at the fine print, if someone damages or steals your car or the whole building collapses and catches fire, the owners are not liable.

It's like printing money.

In fact, if you dig a bit deeper you will find that it costs relatively more to park your car than it does to park your body in a reasonable bed and breakfast.

Which is silly because your car does not need a lavatory or a bath or shower, nor does it need a bed or sheets or towels. It also does not require breakfast.

Airport parking garages are classic examples of what happens when no competition is allowed. They are all monopolies and can therefore charge what they like.

With the result that parking garages at airports make more profit than the average airline that is carrying you overseas.

Which is why I love the Gautrain.  Yes, I know Gautrain is expensive but I really don't care.

The purpose of my column today is not to complain about parking garages but simply to highlight for those who would wish for nationalisation or monopolies that lack of competition costs a lot of money for consumers.

There are dozens of examples out there.

Competition is the lifeblood of a sound economy. Monopolistic nationalisation and legislated lack of choice aren't.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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