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Take a Hike: Facility Walkthroughs Are More Than Just Good Exercise

Many managers of mobility operations find themselves lashed to their desks and staring into their electronic devices. Or, they find themselves on-the-go, meeting-to meeting, staring into their electronic devices.

What they’re not staring into, are their facilities.

While the number-crunching, alert beeps from parking and transportation management systems can provide critical customer data, they do not totally convey the patron’s experience or the physical condition of your facilities. For that reason, and for the purpose of protecting your investment, you should consider implementing a regular walkthrough program.

Walkthroughs – Not Just for Exercise

Besides boosting a manager’s health and providing a respite from the cacophony of most mobility management offices, a walkthrough program is a way to formally institute a regular survey of your facilities. Such a program should necessarily involve all levels of management, not just an individual manager responsible for that deck, toll plaza, etc..

While that individual manager should be expected to tour his/her facility informally on a daily basis, and a supervisor of that individual manager might do so on a weekly basis, a walkthrough program provides a more comprehensive checklist approach to assuring that problems are identified for correction.

A walkthrough checklist can be informal, simply a guide or list of suggestions. Or, it can be more formal. As an “app” or in a written form, at the end of the walkthrough, the document can be passed on to the appropriate parties, such as higher management and/or maintenance for follow-up.

Don’t Forget Professional Inspections, Too

Routine walkthroughs by engineers is highly recommended on a regular basis, as well. These should be done every year or so, depending on the age of the facility. The older the facility, the more often an engineer should be inspecting it.

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But operational and service issues are important to note as well, and these are the responsibility of on-site management and their supervisors.

Walkthroughs Provide Legal Protection

There are some legal implications in identifying problems that might not be fixed immediately. For example, say a bank of lights might be out. If this problem is reported, but not acted upon in a reasonable time, and then something bad happens, a claim is possible. You do undertake a duty to act when you identify a problem. It’s in writing, so it should be treated seriously.

However, documenting the results of a walkthrough can also help resolve customer complaints and or “false” claims (e.g., that bank of lights was reported out on the 25th, repaired on the 26th, therefore, a customer’s claim that they were out on the 27th cannot be true).

In the long run, having some sort of walkthrough program, however, is probably better legal protection than having none and pretending problems don’t exist.

Specific Items to Inspect

An easy way to develop your facility checklist is to divide it into specific items to look for. This is also excellent training for new managers. What follows is one way to do so, but you can develop your own based on internal organization priorities:

Entry/exit plaza & cashiering

  • General appearance and aesthetics of entry plaza – Is it clean and inviting?
  • Uniforms and personal appearance of attendant (if any) – Does it reflect well on your organization?
  • Attitude/first impression of any customer service personnel – Put yourself in the customer’s position; do these personnel communicate your service ideals?
  • Customer contact points named and labeled – Are name tags, name plates/identification badges patron contact information, per your policy.
  • Booth interior and glass – Is it neat, clean and free of obstructions?
  • Booth or plaza exteriors – Is the area around booth area and islands litter-free?
  • Cleaning supplies on hand – If attendant has cleaning responsibilities, are they cleaning during idle times and are supplies such as brooms, window cleaner, towels, etc. available?
  • Think security – When you approach, look for loitering persons or suspicious activity. If you see any, is there a valid reason these non-employees are present?
  • Cash on hand – Is it less than the prescribed amount per policy?
  • Fee computer or cash register – If any is in use, is it bolted down?
  • Drop safe – If any is in use, is it present and secure?
  • Booth locks – Are they working and lockable?
  • Fee display – If any is in use, is it working?
  • Cashier receipts – Are cashiers offering receipts with transactions, per your policy?
  • Cashier condition – Chat with cashier. Does the cashier have any concerns or other problems?

Control equipment

  • Observe lanes – Are they working properly?
  • Count loop function – Can you take ticket without a car on loop? Can card activate gate without a car on loop? Check to see if a cashier can run a ticket transaction without a car on loop.
  • Control equipment – Are all gates and spitters working and locked. Note the condition of equipment cabinets and exteriors. Are gates padded and level?

Floors

  • Floor condition – Is there litter and loose trash(paper, cigarette butts, etc.). Note problem oil spots, spills, excess build-up of tire dust, etc.
  • Pavement condition – Is it spalling, gatoring, etc.?
  • Stall and lane line striping – Check striping condition for peeling or fading.
  • Curbs/bollards – Are they dented or damaged? What is the paint condition?
  • Drains – Are drains open, no water pooling?
  • Expansion joints – What is the condition of the caulking? Are there water leaks?
  • Hazards – Is any broken glass or other hazards seen? Broken glass can also be an indication of a car break-in or vandalism and should be separately reported to security.
  • Wheel stops – Are they secure? Any broken concrete wheelstops or curbs?

Wayfinding and Lighting

  • Street view or approach – Look at external wayfinding to deck. Is it sufficient to guide a customer?
  • Deck entry/exit points – Are they clearly/safely marked?
  • Follow vehicle path – Are decision points marked?
  • Follow pedestrian path – Are decision points marked?
  • Lights – Note any lights that are out. Note lighting variances – differences between brightest and darkest areas. Record location of lights out and other lights that might be needed.
  • Notices – Are rates and required legal notices posted at entry and exits? Is emergency or after hours contact information posted?
  • Signs – Are lighted signs clean and working? Note signs needing cleaning or replacement?

Walls and ceilings

  • Look up – Check for cobwebs, dirty pipes, bird nests, soot, etc.
  • Perimeter – Make sure all chains, bollards, fence, perimeter around facility are secure.
  • Fixtures – Note items needing painting/ rusted metal.
  • Cleanliness – Are there fender smudges, smears, etc. on walls?
  • Leaks and leaching – Record location of leaks, lime deposits, leaching, etc. that need to be cleaned or repaired.
  • Paint condition – Have ceilings, walls, etc. been painted recently (if any)?

Safety, Security, Health

  • Security devices – Are security devices in use working, such as panic alarms, CCTV, etc.?
  • Check electrical wiring and conduits – Look for open or detached wiring.
  • Garbage cans – Should be less than 2/3 full.
  • Doors – Are all doors operational? Note condition of rolling gates, door hardware, such as handles and closures, etc.
  • Fire safety – Have fire extinguishers/fire systems and alarms been recently tested and passed?

Social Mobility Areas

  • Elevator cabs and lobbies – Are they working, clean?
  • Parking offices – Are they well-lit, clean, customer-friendly, professional?
  • Restrooms – Are they clean and customer friendly?
  • Stairwells – Are they clean, well-lit, and fresh smelling?

Miscellaneous

  • Occupancy – Note the approximate number of empty spaces or occupancy. What can you do with empty spaces, if anything, or is the deck overfull?
  • Serving persons with disabilities – Are spaces set aside, correct per facility plan by count and proper location? Do ramps and pathways meet legal requirements? Are the restricted spaces (ADA, reserved, etc.) being properly utilized? Do all occupants of those spaces display the proper identification?
  • Illegal parking – Note any “unofficial” reserved spaces created by “squatters”.
  • Landscaping and aesthetics – Survey landscaping and exteriors. Are they clean, neat, inviting?

If you use a formal written checklist, the surveyor can check items needing attention. Then the surveyor should obtain agreement with whomever is responsible for when corrections, if any, are to be made. That responsible party, such as a maintenance person, should record what corrections were performed and when. The completed form can then be stored according to your document retention policies.

Keeping your structure investment safe, in good condition, and customer-friendly will make your hike worthwhile.

(Image credit: Pixabay. Want more information? Please check out our forums. If you have comments or suggestions, please share your experiences and ideas with us and other professionals visiting our site. Add your comments below – if Comments are “on” – or by contacting us directly here. This post was adapted from an article previously published in magazine or website format. The author retains all second serial and electronic rights. This work has been updated, edited and is distributed by the H2H2H Foundation with the express permission of the author. Our How-2 series are written by mobility management professionals for mobility management professionals. Thank you for helping H2 become the how-to resource in public and private transportation management.)

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