A familiar sight at Metro’s metered lots is that of a customer searching for coins to feed the parking meter. Priced at $1/hour, that can add up to a lot of quarters or dollar coins. Starting Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Fort Totten and Rockville Metrorail stations, Metro is introducing a new parking meter technology from Parkmobile that will allow customers to pay for parking using a smartphone app or over the phone. It’s the same payment system widely in use in the District of Columbia, but with an extra twist: within seconds, thanks to sensing technology from Streetline, the time you pay actually displays on the meter. You can find out about Parkmobile and download the app at http://parkmobile.com.
This new Parkmobile payment technology is compatible with the “Parker” app by Streetline for iPhones and Android, which provides another option for cash-free payments while enabling many additional features. For example, you can find a parking spot in real time at the Fort Totten and Rockville metered lots, and the Vienna-Fairfax/GMU South daily surface parking lot. Additionally, Parker provides policy information for every single Metro parking lot and garage (even those without sensor information) — see http://www.streetline.com/find-parking/.
State of the Commute Survey Results
Last summer, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) posted the results from the 2010 State of the Commute (SOC) Survey. Metro planners are reviewing the results now in support of our Regional Transit System Plan, which is looking to better connect areas of concentrated growth, such as the regional activity centers, and increase core capacity through 2040. The survey is conducted every three years to help MWCOG’s Transportation Planning Board better understand commuting trends and evaluate the effectiveness of its Commuter Connections program, which provides information about and benefits for commuting by transit and carpooling instead of single-occupancy vehicles (SOV).
Screen capture of live parking information for Fort Totten. Click image for live site.
As part of Metro’s ongoing effort to make parking more convenient for riders, a trial of real-time sensing has been underway at the Fort Totten Metro Kiss and Ride Lot for the past few months. This system uses sensors embedded in the pavement and in parking meters to let users know when spaces are available in the Kiss and Ride Lot, and when they should save time, energy and reduce their carbon footprint by driving to a different lot or using some other mode to access Metro. Eventually, we hope that a similar sensors and monitoring technology will be available at all Metro metered parking spaces as a customer service to riders and to improve transit access, information and use. Information on parking space availability reduces traffic cause by motorists search for parking and reduces pollution from vehicles being driven around in the search for parking.
This real-time space availability information from the Fort Totten Kiss and Ride Lot is currently available on Metro’s website on the Fort Totten parking page:
Metro’s early experience with promoting TOD took place at below-ground rail stations in established urban settings that did not require the provision of transit access facilities beyond connections from sidewalks to the stations below. More recently, WMATA’s opportunities to develop its land to support TOD have been predominantly in suburban rail stations that include extensive parking lots, bus bays, and facilities for taxis, bicycles, customer pick-up and drop-off, and ADA patrons.
The default agency policy in recent years has been to replace existing facilities with a like amount and kind of facilities on a reduced footprint, and to emphasize transit operational functionality over urban design issues. For example, this approach has tended to favor placing parking structures and bus bays adjacent to the station in lieu of pedestrian facilities, public spaces and mixed-use development. However, public feedback has prompted WMATA to reassess the appropriateness of this default approach, and there is a need for new thinking about how future patrons should arrive at suburban stations; how transit operations should function in TOD contexts; and how to better meet local development policy objectives.
Development plan for Twinbrook Metrorail station. Click the image for more information.
Over the past five years, WMATA has made a number of significant policy and program changes to recognize the changing development environment at suburban rail stations. For example, in 2008 WMATA adopted a new set of real estate development guidelines (1.91 MB PDF), and the first real estate projects implementing those guidelines were initiated in the summer and fall of 2010. While the evolution of WMATA’s planning and land development practice is underway, it is far from complete. WMATA’s most recently-launched TOD projects confront the agency with the immediate challenge of replacing first-generation, auto-oriented transit access facilities with a new generation of facilities that supports transit access, transit operations, and TOD.
Embedded sensor, currently being tested at Fort Totten Kiss and Ride metered parking spaces.
One of the challenges Metro faces is how to best support Parking customers. Good data on parking space utilization at metered Kiss and Ride spaces can be hard to come by and finding a metered parking space at many stations can involve guesswork. To address this lack of space availability information, Metro is beginning a 1-year pilot of sensors in parking spaces at the Fort Totten Metro Kiss and Ride parking lot to capture data on space availability and usage and to facilitate payment. These battery-powered sensors will be mounted flush with the pavement in each parking space, and communicate information on availability and usage. These space sensors will last 5-7 years on their internal batteries, and provide nearly real-time information. Read more…