By David Maldonado, Development and Member Engagement Coordinator
Parking counting equipment being installed at a downtown Saint Paul ramp.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in, or witnessed anybody argue or debate about parking availability or the value of parking spaces in general.
Now, keep them up if anyone on either side of the argument used actual data to support their points (made up percentages do not count). How many winners do we have?
If you follow us on social media, you might have gotten some glimpses into how the previous three sentences might tie into work that we’re currently doing. For those who might not know, we recently purchased parking counting equipment from Parking Logix (dubbed the “parking fit-bit” in the office). The new equipment is able to track cars as they enter and exit parking facilities, giving us a real-time indication of how full a facility is at any given point in the day.
We were excited to debut this equipment this spring at the 14th Street Ramp at the Capitol Complex in Saint Paul. The 14th Street Ramp is owned by the State of Minnesota, managed by the Department of Administration, and has over 900 contract parking spaces for State of Minnesota employees.
Example of the data that is being collected
The Department of Administration recognized that having real data for exactly how and when people use parking spaces is vitally important not only for better parking management but also for making informed decisions about parking and commuter benefits. With the data we are currently collecting, the Department of Administration is able to precisely identify peak usage hours and occupancy rates throughout the day, more effectively analyzing parking supply and demand. Check out the graph off to the left for an example (click to enlarge).
Ultimately, the idea is to be able to maximize the efficiency of existing parking spaces. We know that investing in transportation options can be a cheaper alternative than building new multi-million dollar parking ramps.
The Department of Administration, in recognition of lower occupancy rates on Fridays, introduced a “Friday-only” parking option for multi-modal commuters. Offering incentives to do something other than drive alone on days when the ramp is full, is another way to help manage that parking demand. But obviously, the first step to implementing a new policy is understanding the current conditions.
Technological solutions, such as this parking counting equipment from Parking Logix, have the potential to affect how streets are used and how people choose to get around. Our hope is that having better data will help us all make better and more informed decisions.