Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Smarter City Pittsburgh Should Adopt Smart Parking Tools

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Smarter City Pittsburgh Should Adopt Smart Parking Tools

Article excerpt

Can Pittsburgh become a Smart City, using data wisely, making the best use of its current resources and serving the needs of its citizens and visitors? We think it can if we have the wit, wisdom and will to move forward.

As faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, we have been studying how to make parking "smarter" since 2013. The city of Pittsburgh is well positioned to improve parking for the benefit of its citizens and visitors, by improving travelers' experience, facilitating access to local businesses, mitigating emissions and reducing the city's carbon footprint. These goals can be accomplished by pricing parking "right" and using technologies to manage parking and provide parking information. In today's world, everything can use an app.

First, we have found the city sometimes charges too much money for parking, leading to revenue loss when high prices reduce demand for parking. We have demonstrated how to solve that problem using the contemporary data technologies implemented by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority under David Onorato.

Using data, we created and administered a demonstration parking project starting in January 2013 and continuing for three years. We implemented variable dynamic pricing that resulted in lower prices for parking and higher revenues for the city, making the best use of scarce parking resources while serving the needs of both drivers seeking parking and businesses needing available space.

We increased revenues by approximately 20 percent - $200,000 per year just around CMU - while lowering rates. Since the project ended, revenues have declined by about $200,000 a year as the city stopped managing prices at CMU and left prices too high. The project reduced traffic congestion around the university by reducing the number of cars cruising for vacant parking spaces. This, in turn, reduced auto emissions, and helped lower CMU's carbon footprint.

When we first proposed our study, then-Councilman Bill Peduto endorsed the project, saying, "I am excited to see the results of this study and take what we can learn and apply it to other parts of the city. …

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