The Management of City Centre Parking Traffic: Drivers' Information Needs and the Effectiveness of Parking Guidance and Information Systems

The Management of City Centre Parking Traffic: Drivers' Information Needs and the Effectiveness of Parking Guidance and Information Systems


D J Ling, I Tsopelas, T J McCarthy, Transportation Group, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, UK



The management of city centre traffic is intrinsically related to the strategic control of parking activities, and this in turn requires an understanding of the factors that can be used to influence car drivers? parking behaviour and their needs for parking information.

Parking itself is an integral part of the transport system, since every stationary vehicle needs accommodation. The need for better management of parking capacity as well as the minimization of the effects of parking search appears essential, especially in urban areas, which in particular suffer from traffic congestion. Parking management strategies aim to influence drivers? behaviour and choices in order to increase the efficiency of existing parking supply and minimize the need for additional investment in infrastructure.

The provision of parking information to drivers has been identified as a promising tool for implementing parking management strategies. The potential of such approach has been improved over the last two decades with the development of new information and telecommunications technologies. Currently, a number of telematic applications are available aiming to improve the efficiency of the transport network by providing traffic and traveller information.

Parking Guidance and Information (PGI) systems are amongst the most common ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) applications and have been widely used as management tools. By introducing such a system it is possible to provide on-trip information and directions to drivers. Evaluation studies have shown that PGI systems are able to improve the efficiency of the parking process by influencing drivers? choice of car park. However, it is acknowledged that there is lack of comprehensive understanding regarding drivers? behavioural response to PGI systems as well as their needs for parking information, which have to be met in order to provide truly effective information and guidance.

At the end of 1999 Manchester implemented a new PGI system. Its operation offered an excellent opportunity to empirically investigate drivers? responses to the system and identify their needs for parking information in order to enrich existing knowledge on the subject. The evaluative framework of the research project involved extensive driver surveys, conducted both ?before? and ?after? the introduction of the PGI system in Manchester.

The main results obtained from the surveys are presented and critically reviewed. In more detail, this paper examines the structure of the drivers that utilized the car parks in Manchester before and after the implementation of the PGI system, based on their socio-demographic and trip characteristics. This is followed by the variations that were observed in motorists? attitudes and habits regarding the selection of car parks. The discussion continues with drivers? responses to the PGI system as they were obtained seven months and one year after its introduction in order to identify what are the elements that make drivers to adopt or ignore the new system. Additionally, special attention is given to motorists? requirements/needs regarding additional parking information and how these altered after the operation of the new system.


Association for European Transport