Parking Management - An interactive ITS Handbook for Planning
Relevance for Large Scale Events
Best Cases and Examples
1 of 13
Parking planning is undergoing a paradigm shift, a change in how a problem is perceived and solutions
evaluated. The old paradigm assumes that parking should be abundant and free at most destinations. It
strives to maximize supply and minimize price. The old paradigm assumes that parking lots should almost
never fill, that parking facility costs should be incorporated into the costs of buildings or subsidized by
governments, and that every destination should satisfy its own parking needs.
The new paradigm strives to provide optimal parking supply and price. It considers too much supply as
harmful as too little, and prices that are too low as harmful as those that are too high. The new paradigm
strives to use parking facilities efficiently. It considers full lots to be acceptable, provided that additional
parking is available nearby, and that any spill over problems are addressed. It emphasizes sharing of parking
facilities between different destinations. It favours charging parking facility costs directly to users, and
providing financial rewards to people who reduce their parking demand.
Within this framework, if drivers are provided with reliable information about parking space availability and
location as they enter the city centre or the area of the event, they can select a car park and the best route
to take at an early stage, instead of driving from one car park to the next looking for spaces.
Parking management refers to various policies and programs that result in more efficient use of parking
resources. Parking management programs can usually reduce parking requirements up to 40% if compared
with conventional parking programs, providing many economic, social and environmental benefits. The
reduction of parking requirements comes from different factors, among which there are the strategic
location of parking areas, the improvement of payment operations and the improvement of the efficiency
of each parking area.
Fig. 1. Different technologies for traveller information and
access control in parking management systems.
To sum up, parking management strategies have three main objectives:
To control access to parking areas and to set up advanced payment systems (e.g. by installing
automatic devices or );
2 of 13
To reduce to time spent by the traveller when searching for an available parking space in the
surroundings of his destination, especially in busy periods or during large events (user side);
To improve the efficiency, in terms of availability, security and strategic relevance of the service of
parking lots in a city or in a specific area, e.g. by using dynamic parking fees (parking operator side).
A further benefit generated by parking management systems is the overall reduction of the on-street
congestion, since it has been estimated that up to 30% of traffic in a city centre is made up of vehicles
looking for parking spaces. The development of new technologies and the integration of ITS systems in the
field of parking management has provided additional alternatives for improving the operation of changemode parking at facilities such as airports, railway stations, bus and rail transit stops, and commuter
carpool areas. For each of these facilities, the importance of providing users with the means to quickly find
an available space for their cars is essential.
Fig. 2. The integration of an ITS platform in parking management systems.
This map view represents the status of parking areas in a city center
Minimizing the time required to park by simplifying the parking task will benefit the traveller and the lot
operator. The traveller benefits from an easier transfer between the private automobile and the transit
mode. Parking facility operators benefit from increased efficiencies in lot operation and increased business.
Improvements through the use of information technology are possible in several aspects of the process,
including vehicle circulation and space usage, fee processing, and staffing requirements.
3 of 13
The most common parking management system is mainly aimed at parking access control. The main
element of this system is an electronic gate controlling entrances and departures to/from the parking area.
Other features of the systems could be, for instance:
Issue cards (magnetic strip cards) reader;
Smart cards reader for long-term parking subscriptions management;
Automated access control, based on RFId devices or ANPR (Automated Number Plate Recognition)
Fig. 3. Parking access control system.
ITS-based parking systems are most efficient from the point of view of the overall transport system when
integrated in a platform. An integrated platform is able to collect information from different sources,
Occupancy rate of the parking lots;
Historical traffic data (e.g. O/D matrix).
Using this information a forecast of the parking occupancy could be made. This information is then passed
to travellers using VMS (Variable Message Signs), pre-trip and on-trip information services (e.g. on-screen
information on portable navigators), mobile apps or web pages. The VMS usually shows information like
“full” or the number of available free spaces. The signs are normally positioned before junctions where
drivers have to make a choice of route in order to arrive at a particular car park.
4 of 13
Fig. 4. Typical architecture of a parking management platform.
The booking of parking spaces can be managed by specific mobile apps, giving the traveller the possibility
to reserve a parking space and therefore efficiently plan his journey. Furthermore, parking management
systems could be integrated in enforcement policies, improving the security of parking area and, more in
general, the quality of urban life.
Relevance for Large Scale Events
An event that brings thousands of people to a venue in a short amount of time can be a great challenge.
The question of parking and vehicle ingress and egress is often an afterthought for the event planner but
requires strategic planning and effective execution for the public safety and parking team. Proper planning
can help alleviate traffic problems on the surrounding streets and within the parking facility. A parking
facility has a limited number of entrances and exits, and the parking manager must be creative in
identifying the best ways to get cars off the street and into the parking facility.
Most pay parking facilities are designed with a gate at the entrance and little room to queue vehicles. This
may work fine during normal operations, but during special events, it makes getting vehicles into the facility
a slow process. When developing an ingress plan, the parking manager should determine how to maximize
ingress and get cars off the street quickly. For paid parking events, this may mean moving the cashiers to
different locations within the facility. In addition to alleviating traffic in the surrounding area, this tactic also
has psychological implications as the drivers feel that they have arrived instead of sitting in traffic on the
street. Coordination with local law enforcement or parking control may also help ease street traffic and
alleviate some congestion.
5 of 13
Fig. 6. Example of a parking management plan for large events.
To summarize, parking management strategies could be defined as essential for the management of large
events. These strategies, combined with an ad-hoc strategic planning, are helpful to drive traffic and
parking demand, assuring both the satisfaction of the needs of the traveller and the security and efficiency
of the existing parking lots, maximising their vehicle storing capacity.
Furthermore, the benefits derived from VMS guidance can be even more evident in large scale events,
since many drivers will not know the area of the venue. For this reason, this kind of guidance will give best
results in terms of traffic flows improvement and drivers satisfaction. Finally, specific car parks for
particular categories of vehicles (e.g. VIP vehicles, Olympic teams, press vehicles) may be important for the
logistic organization of the large event.
There are many variants of the parking management systems, depending on the functions required by the
operator. One of the most important ones is park and ride. This is a form of integrated transport that
allows private transport users to park their vehicles at a large car park and travel into the city centre using a
public transport mode. Normally, park and ride is used to control city centre access, but it can also be used
to “protect” specific areas (e.g. the stadium area in Olympic Games) for private traffic, giving access only to
certain authorized categories of vehicles. The vast majority of park and ride sites are situated outside the
urban areas of city centres and are designed to relieve road congestion along the roads leading into and
located within the city centre itself. Whilst bus, coach, light rail or suburban train could all provide the
6 of 13
public transport services at park and ride sites, in many cases these services are provided by dedicated bus
In most cases users either pays for the bus services and can park their car free of charge, or pays for their
car parking and travels free of charge on the bus. The dedicated bus services tend to consist of modern low
floor buses that are branded. They also operate a high service frequency throughout the day, especially
during the morning and evening peak periods.
Fig. 5. Example of a park&ride network.
Another important variant is the dynamicmanagement of parking lots. This technique is founded on the
application of variable fees for parking spaces, depending on current occupancy rate and on traffic
conditions. This approach is able to drive the parking space demand and therefore, coupled with driver
guidance through the use of VMS, the traffic demand. According to this model, the user can check his trip
before starting, in terms of traffic congestion, expected travel time, availability and costs of parking spaces.
Then, the user can choose the best transport solution, basing on his real needs and on adaptive fares .
The main elements of a park management system are:
Central database and controller;
Entry/exit barriers and detectors;
7 of 13
VMS (Variable Message) signs;
User interface: web pages, mobile apps, on-board systems.
The detectors mainly has the role to collect information about the number of vehicles in each car park. The
simplest form is to have a detector placed at the entry and exits points of the car parks. These count the
cars coming in and out of the car park. More complex systems have a detector in each parking bay, so that
a car can be directly guided to a free space. Innovative lighting solutions can be interfaced with these
advanced systems, in order to efficiently use the features of the latest LED lighting systems, for instance to
light up only the available spaces, or the path from the entrance of the parking lot to the free space.
The central controller collects the information and calculates the number of free spaces. It also controls the
VMS signs, modifying the message as the parking lot fills and empties. The VMS signs show messages
related to the various car parks linked to the system. The actual type and message shown by the signs can
vary considerably from system to system. In the more modern systems, the central controller is linked
directly to the UTC system (Urban Traffic Control system) or with the area supervision platform. This grants
an higher level of integration of the parking management system with the other ITS systems in the area and
allows to apply wide-area optimisation strategies, in terms of traffic flows and parking lots occupancy.
Fig. 7. Latest technologies for parking management.
[From: www.sfpark.organd ndi-rs.com]
Other technologies used in parking managements platforms are related to the possibility for the traveller to
book parking spaces in a specific area. Usually, presence sensors are connected to a central control system,
which is able to manage the parking demand, interfacing with vehicle identification systems, like ANPR
(Automatic Number Plate Recognition) or RFId detection systems. The increasing diffusion of smartphones
and tablets will have an important role in the development of dedicated mobile apps.
Impacts are mainly expected on improved transport efficiency, lower fuel emissions, improved service
quality and increased business and occupancy levels for parking operators. Over the whole network, this
will have the effect of reducing the number of vehicles using the road network at any one time. This fall in
traffic demand will also reduce congestion for those not seeking parking spaces.
8 of 13
When drivers are provided with
information on parking slots availability
and location, they can select the best
route to get to the selected car park,
instead of driving from one car park to the
next in the hope of finding a space.
After the installation of a
VMS guidance systems,
when looking for a
parking in city centre:
Average travel time
Positive 2 order impacts. Parking
management could increase the usage of
PT, and this could lead to fewer
Modal shift could be improved with the
implementation of an integrated strategy
of PT lines (e.g. “Park&Ride”).
Air pollution decrease is directly related to
the reduction in total kilometres travelled
on the road network.
10 million km per
Average reduction in
fuel consumption: 1
million litres per year.
(measured in Frankfurt)
The reduction in traffic flows can be
linked to a parallel reduction in incidents.
[*, ** or *** indicate the strength of the impact]
The integration of parking management systems with other ITS systems is an important way of achieving an
higher level of efficiency of the urban traffic flows, since an improvement of the resources invested in
management of parking lots has direct reflections on the quality of vehicle flows.
In particular, the integration of parking information in area supervision platforms and in urban traffic
control systems will enable the traffic operator to quickly answer to any critical situation related to
abnormalities in parking demand, for instance immediately before the beginning of a large event.
As a result of this integration and using upcoming communication technologies like mobile apps, web pages
or cooperative V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) systems, an efficient and real9 of 13
time information service can be offered to the travellers. This flow of information, coupled with the
parking spaces booking, could therefore be used to manage other infrastructures or services, for example
modifying in real-time the headway of the public transport lines connecting parking lots with the event
Even though it not easy to sum up here practical indications for a successful deployment of parking
management strategies, since they depend on several city characteristics and other factors such the kind of
planned large event or the size of the expected attendees, below there are recommendations for the
implementation of an integrated parking planning strategy. These recommendations should be adjusted to
reflect and to satisfy the needs of a specific situation, in particular as regards large events.
Define Scope. Define the geographic scope of analysis, such as the site, street,
district/neighbourhood and regional scale;
Define Problems. Carefully define parking problems. For example, if people complain of inadequate
parking it is important to determine where, when and to whom this occurs, and for what types of
trips. This phase could be extremely important as regards large events, mainly for two reasons:
Difficulties in forecasting traffic and parking demand;
Many people are unfamiliar with the area of the event.
Define Strategic Planning Context. Parking planning should be coordinated with a community’s
overall strategic vision. This helps insure that individual decisions reflect broader community
objectives. As regards large events this coordination is particularly relevant, due to the dimensions
of the problem and to the number of actors (attendees, press, organizing committee, VIP, ...)
Establish Evaluation Framework. Develop a comprehensive evaluation framework. This provides
the basic structure for analyzing options, insuring that critical impacts are not overlooked and
different situations are evaluated consistently.
Define Survey Conditions. Survey parking supply (the number of parking spaces available in an
area) and demand (the number of parking spaces occupied during peak periods) in the study area;
Identify and Evaluate Options. Evaluate each option with respect to evaluation criteria and
develop an implementation plan. Once the components of a parking management plan are
selected, the next step is to develop an implementation plan, in order to define the different
phases of the management strategy.
Park&Ride in Bari - Italy
The Park&Ride system activated by the City Council allows the travellers going downtown to park the
vehicle in peripheral interchange parking areas and to reach the centre with public transport. The project
also aims, through the integration of private vehicles and public transport, to reduce traffic congestion in
the city with a significant improvement in air quality and the environment.
10 of 13
Fig. 8. Results of the survey on the implementation of the Park&Ride system in Bari.
The survey involved 1233 participants, interviewed from April 16th to November 25th 2011. It is noticeable
to highlight that about the 90% of the travellers is satisfied of the service.
More information are available at:
SFpark in San Francisco - USA
SFpark is an experimental platform introduced in San Francisco, which allow the traveller to know the
actual parking spaces availability, the current fares, and to book a space in a specific area. SFpark works by
collecting and distributing real-time information about where parking is available so drivers can quickly find
Fig. 9. The SFpark system interface. [From: www.sfpark.org].
To help achieve the right level of parking availability, SFpark periodically adjusts meter and garage pricing
up and down to match demand. Demand-responsive pricing encourages drivers to park in underused areas
11 of 13
and garages, reducing demand in overused areas. Through SFpark , real-time data and demand-responsive
pricing work together to readjust parking patterns in the City so that parking is easier to find.
More information are available at:
Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games - ITALY
The Winter Olympics in 2006 were held from 10-26 February, and were followed by the Paralympics in
March. The area concerned consisted of the City of Turin and nine different sites in the Alpine valleys to the
west. The numbers of spectators was estimated around half a million over the full period.
Fig. 10. Organisational structure for transportation systems in Torino 2006 Olympics.
As regards parking management, the overall strategy was based on park&ride systems and on public
transport intensification, both in the city and in the mountain area.
approach roads to In the city area, a network of large parking areas was set up in the city outskirts.
Spectators arriving by private car were encouraged to leave their vehicles there and to continue by
public transport or shuttle;
In the mountain area, a “filtering” strategy was set up. Three large parking areas were set up on the
cater for those travelling to the mountain events by private car. ‘Progressive’ filters were
established to avoid congestion on the narrow mountain roads.
12 of 13
Fig. 11. The road traffic filter and parking system in Torino 2006 Olympics.
These regulated car access to the Olympic resorts. When the car parks nearest the sites were full, a filter
was activated and private cars directed to the ‘upstream’ parking area.
13 of 13