Smart Parking Management: A Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District Parking Field Test and Research Evaluation

Project Area(s): 
Innovative Mobility

To examine smart parking as a potential solution to alleviate BART’s parking issues, in December 2004, California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) researchers in conjunction with Caltrans, the BART District, ParkingCarma™, and the Quixote Corporation launched a field test of a smart parking system at the Rockridge BART station in Oakland, where parking demand is very high. The smart parking system included underground traffic sensors that counted the vehicles entering and exiting the station's reserved lot. The sensors relayed the information to a central system, which in turn, relayed the real-time information to two changeable message signs (CMS) on an adjacent highway to alert drivers to the availability of parking spaces. The system also allowed travelers to check availability and reserve spaces by phone, the Internet, and other electronic communication devices. Major findings from this research included the following: 1) smart parking systems implemented worldwide reduce delays and improve parking convenience, 2) commuters may be receptive to a system that permits pre-trip or en-route BART parking reservations, 3) smart parking sensory technology is capable of accurate parking counts (within one percent) when properly placed, and 4) a potential market for a daily paid parking service exists among new riders with relatively high incomes, high auto availability, and variable work schedules and/or locations. The final phase of the field test includes the completion of the user evaluation, economic and institutional assessments, and scoping the expansion of the smart parking pilot project along a transit corridor in the Bay Area.

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