QIC sees tech-focused opportunities in new car park deal

With electric vehicles and driverless cars on the horizon, the fund manager plans to repurpose parts of Northeastern University’s campus parking system with charging stations and an ‘intermodal mobility platform’.

QIC has struck its second car park deal, this time with Northeastern University, that entails not only managing the private university’s campus parking system for 50 years but the ability to invest in technological upgrades.

Under the terms of the agreement, which QIC principal Aman Randhawa, described as the “first of its kind for a private university in the US,” the Australian fund manager will be allowed to “repurpose” parts of the parking system to account for changes in transportation. According to Randhawa, near-term plans are to invest in easing the use of campus parking for customers, including installing an automated payment service.

For the longer term, QIC and MasParc and Mobility – the new company QIC has formed to oversee all aspects of the campus parking system – are considering upgrades like converting parking spaces to electric vehicle charging-stations and creating an “intermodal mobility platform,” a service that will allow users to pay a flat rate for a variety of transportation options, according to Randhawa.

“We want to be a long-term provider of mobility-as-a-service,” he said. “We see this as an investment to provide strong customer service to university members and enhancing business opportunities within the Boston region.”

Preparing Northeastern’s parking system for changes in how people get around will be important. Boston has ongoing initiatives designed to increase urban mobility and get cars off the road.

In 2017, the city unveiled the Go Boston 2030 Plan, which calls for reducing the amount of solo car trips by half and increasing use of public transit, walking and biking. Last June, the city expanded an autonomous vehicle test programme and said driverless cars are a priority for future transportation plans.

The partnership with Northeastern, comes seven years since QIC made its first investment in the sector, when it paid $483 million for a 50-year lease to manage the parking system of Ohio State University, a public institution. Randhawa declined to comment on QIC’s payment to Northeastern.