Parking Elevators

March 2016

Some Toronto area condo buildings are replacing elevator ramps with parking elevators.

One development at 210 Simcoe Street includes a parking garage that can be accessed by stairs or elevator. It does not include parking ramps. Parking spaces are being sold for $55,000.

Some condo buildings in Toronto are looking at eliminating parking ramps for reaching parking levels. There are advantages to this approach. They save space and reduce construction costs. Other savings include fewer lights, ventilation and energy requirements. They create more room for parking spaces that can be sold to condo owners.

In place of parking ramps is an elevator that transports you and your car to the various parking levels. Each elevator can accommodate one vehicle.

Do Parking Elevators Work?

Parking elevators appear unpopular among those who must rely in them.

There are practical issues. A condo building with two such elevators can only accommodate two vehicles at a time. Rather than driving down a ramp, vehicles must wait in line for an available elevator.

It can take an unreasonably long time to enter or exit a building during peak morning or afternoon hours when elevators are unable to keep up with a long queue of residents waiting for an available parking elevator.

A long queue of vehicles waiting to access an elevator to enter a parking area can affect street traffic. When a parking elevator fails and is unavailable an hour, a day or a week waiting to be repaired, a parking area may become inaccessible.

An emergency trip to the hospital could take significantly longer with wait time for an elevator being longer then the trip itself.

Entertaining becomes more difficult. Expecting 25 people and 20 vehicles arriving at the same time can be a challenge. It could take 30 minutes or longer for vehicles to be transported to visitor parking assuming exclusive use of two elevators. In practice, there will be building residents coming and going at the same time creating even more delays and traffic problems.

The example of a Miami condo building lends credibility to these concerns. The Brickell House installed Miami’s first fully automated parking garage. It was promoted as a way to fit more cars into less space while improving safety and taking less time to enter and exit the garage. Residents complained that it was too slow during peak travel times and delays of more than an hour. Residents were arriving late to work and for appointments. Some residents stopped using the garage and parked their vehicles elsewhere.

Click here to view a video of how the fully automated parking garage was expected to work.

Like the fully automated parking garage in Miami, parking elevators remain unproven as a replacement for parking ramps.