St. Paul has more than four million visitors each year. Although adequate parking is available, many visitors cannot find parking places. To address this problem, a public–private partnership was developed and an advanced parking management system was deployed in late 1995 and early 1996. The cooperative effort, an ITS operational test, required resources from the FHWA, MnDOT, the City of St. Paul, and 10 parking facilities. The total cost of the operational test was $1,190,050. Of that total cost, approximately $1,150,700 was attributed to management & coordination and equipment & installation, and $39,300 for operations and maintenance (O&M).
Overall, the advanced parking management system helped motorists find available parking during special events at the Civic Center/Rice Park area. The system automatically shared parking occupancy information between participating parking operators, and transmitted this information to the St. Paul Traffic Control Center (TCC) who immediately posted information on available parking on large variable message signs (VMS) and smaller wireless automated parking advisory signs strategically deployed to help motorists find open parking facilities. The signs displayed the number of spaces available, and used arrows to guide drivers to open stalls.
In general, the system was comprised of data collection equipment at each of the participating parking facilities, communication from the data collection equipment to the phone company via dedicated phone lines, a T1 telephone line from the phone company to the central computer, and then wireless communication from the central computer to the electronic signs. Parking facility equipment consisted of loop detectors and computer processing equipment to calculate the number of available parking spaces and communicate that information to the central computer.
One of the primary objectives of the operational test was to detail deployment costs and provide system cost estimates to serve as a guideline for future deployments. The costs of the parking system presented in the report have been replicated in the table below. The table outlines costs for a real-time parking information system comprising ten parking facilities in St. Paul, MN during the operational test as well as for future deployments. Capital costs for the operational test are slightly larger than that for future deployments due to the test & evaluation and marketing associated with the operational test. O&M costs for future deployment are presented per month. The number of locations is equal to the number of electronic signs (10) and parking facilities (10).
* Software cost for future deployments will depend on the number of components added to the system. See report for additional details.
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Capital cost: $992,100 (1995). O&M cost: $2,425/month (1995).