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Survey data indicate the most popular reason commuters use smart parking is that a parking spot will be available when they need it.

Experience with smart parking in Oakland, California

Date Posted

Smart Parking Management Field Test: A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District Parking Demonstration - Final Report

Summary Information

In December 2004, a smart parking system was implemented at the Rockridge Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in Oakland, California. The overall goal was to improve parking and encourage commuters to take transit instead of driving in congested traffic conditions.

The system used underground sensors to count vehicles entering and exiting the parking area’s reserve lot. The data collected were relayed to a central computer system where vehicle counts were processed and information on parking availability was posted on an Internet website and displayed on two portable dynamic message signs (DMS) located on Highway 24. Travelers were able to view the number of spaces available in real-time and decide to ride transit based on prevailing traffic conditions or make advanced reservations via the Internet.

A centralized intelligent reservation system permitted commuters to check parking availability and make reservations via telephone, mobile phone, Internet, or PDA. Travelers en-route who used mobile phones to reserve parking spaces were charged an extra $1.00 for the service while travelers who made advanced reservations using the Internet were charged an extra $4.50. To maximize participation in the smart parking test a single user was only allowed to make three parking reservations within a two week period. The service operated from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM Monday through Friday.

The system was evaluated from December 2004 to April 2006. Fifty of 920 total parking spaces were available for smart park testing. Fifteen of the smart parking spaces were made available to travelers who made advanced reservations on the Internet and the remaining were made available to travelers who decided to smart park en-route.

The evaluation was based on 177 survey questionnaires completed by participants in February and March of 2006. Volunteer test participants who used the system more than once were sent an email requesting that they complete an on-line questionnaire. Survey results captured respondents’ demographic, employment, and travel attributes and patterns.


Survey participants were asked to indicate what they liked most and least about the smart parking system. The responses below were derived from Table 4 in the source report.

Table 4. Top Five Perceived Strengths and Weaknesses of the Smart Parking System.

Percentage of Respondents (n=177)
I have more confidence that a parking spot will be available when I need it
I can park closer to the station
I have a better idea of how long it will take me to find a parking spot
I can leave my home for work at a later time
I feel safer parking in the smart parking lot
Percentage of Respondents (n=177)
The cost of smart parking is too high
Smart parking spaces have already filled
The cost of BART is too high
My personal work schedule varies some days
I don't think the smart parking space will be there when I arrive at the lot