How do very large car parks deal with abandoned cars?
October 9, 2009 6:42 PM   Subscribe

How do massive long-stay carparks (like those at airports), that have too many cars to keep track of individually, deal with the problem of cars that are never collected?

I imagine it must happen - people park their cars in airports then disappear from the country. Not often but I don't think a couple of cars a year is an unreasonable guess.

How do these massive car parks deal with abandoned cars - do they ever know they're there?

In a small car park, a car parked in the same place for ages would be noticed after a short while, but in a car park that acts as a home for several thousand cars, surely the car just stays there for an eternity. Or is there some kind of checking procedure - and if so what is it!
posted by cdenman to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
 
I would assume it's integrated into whatever system they use to make sure people are paying to park their cars there anod not just parking for free.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:59 PM on October 9, 2009


They *do* keep track of them individually. They drive by each car at least daily and take pictures of all the plates. Once I lost my car in the lot, they called it in, and told me where it was.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:00 PM on October 9, 2009


Previously: How do they know where i parked at Logan Airport?

Not all systems are that sophisticated though.
posted by smackfu at 7:13 PM on October 9, 2009


As RustyBrooks said, the big lots use cameras. An automated camera takes a picture of the front/back of the vehicle, including plates at entry and exit. The cameras are often hooked up to an automated OCR system to write the plate number into a database. While the vehicle is in the lot, a portable version of the OCR scanner is driven up and down each row, noting the location of each vehicle and tagging that info to the plate number registered in the database.
posted by jamaro at 7:27 PM on October 9, 2009


They track the plates, but at what point do they decide that a car is abandoned not just parked for a long time?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:34 PM on October 9, 2009


There's probably a small, mostly-unnoticed sign somewhere along the lines of "cars left more than X [say, 90] days will be treated as abandoned".
posted by dhartung at 8:45 PM on October 9, 2009


These are relatively recent developments. When the Toronto Pearson Terminal 1 parking lot was due to be demolished, teh Globe and Mail reported that they found several cars which had been there for 5+ years.
posted by scruss at 8:53 PM on October 9, 2009


Before computers, I assume they'd still want to take periodic inventory— sending a guy around with a clipboard periodically might be more trouble than it's worth, but they could use the chalk-stick technique that city parking enforcement often uses, for example.
posted by hattifattener at 9:17 PM on October 9, 2009


Some of the new systems are even called "Electronic Tire Chalking".
posted by smackfu at 9:34 PM on October 9, 2009


At Dulles International Airport, in suburban Washington DC, they auction off the abandoned cars once or twice a year; there are many because folks stationed at embassies drive them to the valet service, head for the home country and never return.

I once left a car at National Airport for over two months. After 60 days, it had been moved to a holding lot and was on its way to being presumed abandoned. The staff told me they had a notification procedure involving registered letters would begin after 90 days and that they could sell it after, I think, 120 days but that it often took longer. She started right up!
posted by carmicha at 9:21 AM on October 10, 2009


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