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.
Proper management and operations of APMS is necessary to ensure continued pubic acceptance and support of the 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 highlight two key management and operations issues with APMS projects.
- Identify the roles and responsibilities of each agency for system operations and maintenance early in the planning process. Failure to maintain the systems will reduce credibility and public support for the project may diminish. At one of the sites visited, the effort was delayed for nearly a year as the stakeholder group resolved the debate over who would pay for operations and maintenance. If roles and responsibilities are clearly articulated at the outset, such problems can be avoided.
- For systems that use space occupancy counting systems, confirm detector operation periodically. System accuracy is a critical component of a successful system. System errors can cause the inventory count to be in error, either in a positive or a negative direction. Under-counting available spaces means a lost opportunity for a patron and lost revenue for the operator, while over-counting available spaces results in frustrated patrons and a potential loss of future credibility and revenue for the operator.
- At BWI, attendants conduct periodic drive-through inspections to ensure all the detectors accurately reflect the status of the parking space.
Proper management and operations of APMS projects is necessary for the overall success of the project. In particular, the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholder members must be clearly outlined to ensure the smooth functioning of the system. In addition, the accuracy of the counting technology must be periodically checked, as customer satisfaction, as well as the mobility benefits of APMS, is dependent on the accuracy of the information.