In almost every major city in the U.S. and internationally, parking problems are ubiquitous. It is well known that the limited availability of parking contributes to roadway congestion, air pollution, and driver frustration and that the cost of expanding traditional parking capacity is frequently prohibitive. However, less research has addressed the effect of insufficient parking at transit stations on transit use. In the San Francisco Bay Area, parking has recently been at or near capacity at many of the 31 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District stations with parking facilities. Smart parking management technologies may provide a cost-effective tool to address near-term parking constraints at BART transit stations.
This report presents early findings from an application of advanced parking technologies to maximize existing parking capacity at the Rockridge BART station, which was launched in December 2004 in the East San Francisco Bay Area. The smart parking system includes traffic sensors that count the number of vehicles entering and exiting the parking lots at the station. A reservation system allows travelers to reserve spaces by Internet, personal digital assistant (PDA), phone, and cell phone. The real-time information obtained from the sensors and the reservation system is displayed on variable message signs (VMS) (on Highway 24 leading to the station) to alert drivers of parking space availability. Before and after surveys and focus groups will be used to evaluate the travel effects, economic potential, and system technology of the field test. This report consists of three major sections:
* A literature review in which the effectiveness of different types and applications of smart parking management systems are evaluated; * A feasibility analysis, including focus groups, surveys, and observational analyses, which guides the development and initial evaluation of the smart parking field test; and * A smart parking project description, which includes the applied demonstration design and technology.