Smart Parking Linked to Transit: Lessons Learned from Field Test in San Francisco Bay Area of California

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

policy - parking, economics - pricing, organisation - management, mode - mass transit, mode - park and ride


Wireless communication systems, Variable message signs, Transit, Smart parking, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco Bay Area, Ridership, Reservations, Public transit, Pricing, Patronage (Transit ridership), Parking management, Park and ride, Mass transit, Local transit, Lessons learned, In situ tests, Fringe parking, Field tests, Dynamic message signs, Changeable message signs


Rising demand for parking at suburban transit stations, such as the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District in San Francisco, California, necessitates strategies to manage traveler demand. To better manage parking supply, researchers implemented a smart parking field test at the Rockridge BART station from 2004 to 2006 to evaluate the effects of smart parking technologies [changeable message signs (CMSs), Internet reservations and billing, mobile phone and personal digital assistant communications, and a wireless parking lot counting system] on transit ridership and response to service pricing. Researchers used expert interviews, Internet surveys, focus groups, and parking reservation data to conduct this analysis. Survey data indicated that the field test increased BART trips and resulted in 9.7 fewer miles per participant per month on average. Key lessons learned include that it would have been beneficial to anticipate additional time for project scoping and permitting, and that fixed wayfinding signs were beneficial in terms of both directing vehicles from the highway to the smart parking lot and addressing resident concerns about increased traffic. In addition, most participants continued to use the service when fees were implemented. However, CMSs were not widely employed in users’ decision-making processes in this application. Finally, the wireless counting system worked well, with the exception of the in-ground sensors, which were prone to miscounts.