Involve all appropriate stakeholders in a formal and collaborative manner during each phase of the advanced parking management systems (APMS) project.
Experience from APMS deployment sites.
Made Public Date

Advanced Parking Management Systems: A Cross-Cutting Study - Taking the Stress Out of Parking


Advanced parking management systems (APMS) maintain real-time parking space inventories across a set of participating facilities, offering a wide range of applications, from pre-trip web-based information systems, to navigation systems that provide turn-by-turn directions to the parking space. This cross-cutting parking management study helps those considering APMS to benefit from the experience of others in their planning, design, operation, and management. It presents findings from current literature and visits to APMS project sites, three profiled in detail:

  • Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport: This APMS determines parking space availability in real time and guides travelers to open spaces through the use of dynamic message signs (DMS) on the airport access road, as well as signs located within the garages. Travelers can also see space availability on a LED sign located over each parking space.
  • Seattle Center: Through this APMS system dynamic message signs strategically located in the city provide directional arrows to parking garages and are designed to display real-time information on parking availability.
  • Two Chicago Metra park-and-ride facilities. This system guides commuters from the freeway to park-and-ride lots with open parking spaces. DMS located both on the freeway and on arterial streets along the commuter corridor post information on parking availability and provide directional arrows to the parking facilities.

These three were selected because they represent a range of system maturity, stakeholder relationships, and APMS technical approaches, offering examples of three key environments where APMS are often deployed – airports, central business districts (CBD), and park and ride facilities.

Lessons Learned

With the significant growth in the number of visitors and patrons in many metropolitan areas, parking has become an increasing challenge. Parking patrons often do not know where to find parking, what the expected costs are, and most importantly, whether or not there is an available parking space. Advanced parking management systems (APMS) maintain real-time parking space inventories across a set of participating facilities. Outreach to appropriate stakeholders, especially participating facilities, is a critical first step in the success of an advanced parking management systems (APMS) project. Based on the experience of the three sites profiled in this study – Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport, Seattle Center, and Chicago Metra park-and-ride facilities -- the following set of lessons learned on planning for APMS projects is presented.

  • Involve all appropriate stakeholders in a formal and collaborative manner throughout the planning, deployment and operations phases. Advanced parking management systems will impact many stakeholders, both public and private, and planners must consider the point of view of each stakeholder group. Potential stakeholders groups include parking patrons, attraction operators, parking operators (public and private), departments of transportation (city, county, state, and federal), Councils of Government, utility providers, historical preservation groups, and neighborhood boards. Ultimately, stakeholder group membership will vary according to the individual district – its governmental organization, the division of responsibilities for parking operations and maintenance, jurisdictional membership in regional Council of Governments, and participation of Citizen Action Committees (CACs).
  • Ensure that the stakeholder group works from a formal charter that binds the member organizations to the effort, provides a forum for the resolution of issues and ensures a consistent advocacy message. Stakeholder groups should consider establishing a formal charter, especially for complex APMS projects which may take significant time and which include a diverse set of stakeholders. The roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder member should be outlined, so that coordination among members is clearly articulated. In addition, the stakeholder group should obtain formal endorsement from the leadership of the jurisdiction involved and should designate a member of the group as "champion" of the system. The champion should exercise executive leadership within the group and represent the project in public policy discussions and funding requests.
    • Based on his experience with the Seattle Center APMS deployment, Eldon Jacobsen, Advanced Technology Engineer for the Washington Department of Transportation noted, “One lesson that can be learned is to never start a project like this unless there is a signed public agency agreement outlining roles and responsibilities that is approved at the highest levels of government.

APMS deployments are often integrated into urban or neighborhood environments, and as such, take time and involve a diverse set of stakeholders. The success of an APMS project depends, in part, on the involvement of appropriate stakeholders in all phases of the project. Moreover, designating a champion and establishing a formal charter that outlines the roles and responsibilities of all the stakeholders enables the group to function more effectively. Careful planning of such deployments is critical in order to achieve the desired benefits of the system, including increased customer satisfaction and increased mobility.