Parking Management Systems Aim to Aid Drivers, Reduce Urban Congestion
NEWS ANALYSIS: Parking management systems are leveraging mobile technology and the cloud to help motorists find a place to park, reducing congestion and emissions.Parking management has become a serious issue for cities that already are struggling with seemingly perpetual traffic congestion in their urban cores. Traffic tie-ups waste time, hurt commerce and produce air pollution. Most cities would welcome an efficient way to reduce that traffic congestion if they could. And they can. Cities have been experimenting with traffic management solutions of one sort or another for decades. Potential solutions include smart parking meters, limits on available parking and, recently, networked parking management systems that give motorists a way to find open spaces so they don't have waste time and fuel cruising around looking for a place to park. The problem with traffic caused by drivers cruising around an urban area looking for a place to park turns out to be more serious than you might think. Several companies that sell such parking systems put the level of added congestion at 30 percent; a few place it higher. A study by Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, found the amount of traffic in an urban area attributable to the search for parking varied from city to city, with amounts ranging from 28 percent of all traffic in New York to 45 percent in Boston. Shoup's study contended that on-street parking in most cities is too inexpensive, but his results also demonstrated that making parking easier to find would reduce traffic.
In recent years parking facility operators, including shopping malls, cities, parking management companies, have looked for ways to direct visitors to open parking spots. The reasons differ. Operators of shopping malls are trying to make the mall experience better so people will go into the stores and spend money. Cities want to cut the costs of traffic management and reduce the side effects, including pollution.