Install message signs at strategic locations to provide commuters en route with real-time information of the parking availability status at a major transit station.
Experience of Montgomery County Department of Transportation
Made Public Date
10/26/2011

1053

Maryland
United States
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Identifier
2011-00597

Automated Parking Information System Operational Test Evaluation for WMATA Glenmont Parking Facility

Background

In 2004, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), Maryland began work on a demonstration project to develop and test a system to alert drivers of parking availability in advance of their arrival at the parking garage located at Glenmont transit station of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Having real-time occupancy information in advance of approaching or entering an already fully occupied parking garage at Glenmont, the commuters driving to station have the opportunity to take advantage of available parking spaces at a nearby park-and-ride lot on Norbeck Road with connecting bus service to the transit station. This project showed that it was possible to provide such a system.

In 2010, a report entitled “Automated Parking Information System Operational Test Evaluation WMATA Glenmont Parking Facility” was published providing an evaluation of the effectiveness of the parking information system.

Lessons Learned

An evaluation of automated parking information system in the vicinity of the WMATA Glenmont Metro parking facility shows that the signs displayed at Georgia Avenue, Norbeck Road, and Glenallen Avenue are an effective tool to inform commuters about the parking availability at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility. The system helps reduce congestion and improve mobility around the parking facility, as well as increases customer satisfaction. The automated parking information system at Glenmont Metro Station is intended to provide real-time information to commuters about the availability of parking spaces at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility. If spaces are not available at the Glenmont facility, commuters are directed to use other lots with available spaces, especially the underutilized Norbeck Road park-and-ride lot and the Wheaton Metro Station parking facility. Lessons learned from a system evaluation, which was based on commuter responses to the new signs, as well as a study of “before-and-after” parking utilization are presented below.

  • Provide commuters with real-time information of the parking availability status at a major transit station. The automated parking information system was found to be effective in informing drivers traveling to Glenmont Metro Station, a major terminal station on WMATA’s Red Line in Montgomery County, Maryland. Driver en route key access roads to Glenmont station see the message signs displaying the parking availability (or non-unavailability) status at the station’s parking facility as well as direction to use an alternate park-and-ride lot. When the message signs display unavailability of spaces at Glenmont station, some drivers go directly to the Wheaton Metro Station, which is the next station south of Glenmont, while some choose to go to Norbeck park-and-ride lot, from where they take a shuttle bus to Glenmont Metro Station.

    The responses from the surveys conducted at the Glenmont Metro Station and the Norbeck Road park-and-ride lot showed that the system was successful in informing the commuters about parking availability at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility and guiding them to alternative parking facilities at Wheaton Metro Station and the Norbeck Road park-and-ride lot once the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility was full. Also, an acceptable number of commuters agreed that the signs have increased their awareness regarding the parking alternatives to the Red Line and have reduced the time they used to spend searching for a parking space at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility.

  • Understand that the location of the offsite park-and-ride lot and the frequency of shuttle bus to transit station affect utilization of the offsite parking lot. The automated parking information system was evaluated based on commuter responses to the survey questions. In response to a question regarding the availability of parking spaces at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility, 213 out of 332 (66 percent) of the respondents replied that they often do not find available parking at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility. After they do not find a parking space at the facility, 5.6 percent drive directly to their destinations, 46 percent park at the Wheaton Metro Station, 12.2 percent park somewhere near the Glenmont Metro Station, and less than one percent go to the Norbeck Road park-and-ride lot. The Norbeck park-and-ride lot remains underutilized even after the message sign informs commuters about the space availability at the lot. Also, count data of inbound vehicles collected at the lot before and after the message display does not show a significant difference. Some of the possible reasons for the underutilization of the Norbeck park-and-ride lot are: (a) its isolated location, (b) low frequency of bus service between the Norbeck lot and the Glenmont Metro Station, and (c) commuter unfamiliarity with the bus service between the Norbeck lot and the Glenmont Metro Station.
  • Install message signs at strategic locations near transit station to inform drivers about the alternate parking facilities. Georgia Avenue, Layhill Road, and Glenallen Avenue are key arterials carrying drivers to Glenmont station. Based on commuter responses and comments, independent system evaluators recommended that the sign on Georgia Avenue be placed closer to the metro station (south of Norbeck Road) as similar to the one on Layhill Road. Despite of the fact that the sign on Georgia Avenue is currently placed north of Norbeck Road, very few commuters traveling towards the Glenmont Metro Station go to the Norbeck Road park-and-ride lot even after seeing the sign. However, if the sign is moved closer to the Glenmont Metro Station and the Wheaton Metro Station, it is anticipated that more commuters will choose to go to Wheaton Metro Station after seeing the sign about non-availability of parking spaces at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility. This recommendation by the evaluators is based on the observation from the survey data which showed that 23 out of 31 commuters who decided to go directly to the Wheaton Metro Station saw the message sign on Layhill Road, which is placed closer to the Wheaton Metro Station.

An evaluation of automated parking information system in the vicinity of the WMATA Glenmont Metro parking facility shows that the signs displayed at Georgia Avenue, Norbeck Road, and Glenallen Avenue are an effective tool to inform commuters about the parking availability at the Glenmont Metro Station parking facility. The system helps reduce congestion and improve mobility around the parking facility, as well as increases customer satisfaction.

Automated Parking Information System Operational Test Evaluation for WMATA Glenmont Parking Facility

Automated Parking Information System Operational Test Evaluation for WMATA Glenmont Parking Facility
Publication Sort Date
12/15/2010
Publisher
Federal Transit Administration

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