Washington DC wins national innovation award for demand-based parking program

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The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) ParkDC program has been named Innovative Organization of the Year by the National Parking Association (NPA) for its pilot of a demand-based pricing strategy to make parking in Washington DC easier.

Announced at the NPA’s Annual Convention and Expo in Las Vegas, the award recognizes innovation, excellence, best practices and client partnership. The program began when DDOT, engineering and planning firm Kittelson & Associates, and Conduent’s Transportation business unit, the agency’s parking management provider, began piloting predictive occupancy detection techniques, using cameras and sensors to determine when and where vehicles were parking. Conduent used that information to build a demand-based pricing model in the Chinatown and Penn Quarter neighborhoods of downtown Washington DC. DDOT sought to reduce congestion and make spots easier to find by charging drivers more to park during high-use times.

The new program provides real-time parking availability information to customers via a variety of apps and adjusts on-street hourly meter rates at nearly 1,000 parking spaces to shift demand and drive availability. The pilot resulted in a reduction in double parking, better used commercial loading zones, a 5% improvement in parking availability, and a 12% boost in occupancy at under-used areas, thanks to pricing and other demand management tools, such as time-limit adjustments. DDOT helped reduce congestion and achieved equilibrium at 72% of the blocks; a 31% increase. Despite maintaining rates at a majority of the blocks per segment (63%), revenues increased significantly. Pay-by-phone revenue grew by 22%, and payments at the meter rose by 12%.

Conduent’s demand-based pricing model goes beyond relying on average parking spot occupancy rates to guide the cost of a given spot. The company’s proprietary technology compares high-use to low-use spaces to better account for motorists who are looking for parking spots. With ParkDC, DDOT was able to roll out nine different price bands, to change demand by combining occupancy rate data gathered from meter and pay-by-phone payments with data collected from closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras and sensors.

“This is a well-deserved honor for ParkDC, which is helping to better manage parking in the city, benefiting citizens and visitors,” said Soumya Dey, DDOT’s associate director of traffic operations and safety. “The program is a great example of how sustainable technology, using advanced analytics, can help alleviate congestion and make parking smoother for motorists. We knew that performance pricing works in urban areas. We wanted to know whether we could do it at a much lower price point with the same outcomes and with far fewer assets on the street.”

Mick Slattery, CEO of Conduent Transportation, commented, “DDOT understands that parking policies have broad implications for transportation within the city. ParkDC is a tremendous initiative where we use our proprietary parking technology to analyze available data to implement variable pricing, based on time and location.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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