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Pricing and monitoring policies for parking

Bologna

One of Bologna’s biggest mobility issues is parking due to limited space and narrow streets. The city has decided to tackle the problem through an integrated approach of pricing and monitoring policies.

Implementing sustainable mobility

Parking management is a common problem in many medium-sized historical cities as they are often characterised by limited space in the city centre. Bologna is taking an integrated approach where both parking and mobility issues are tackled.

The main objective of the measure is to:

  • Decrease congestion and pollution in urban areas; and
  • Optimise parking policy and parking spaces.

The limited space in the city has led to increasing problems of illegal on-street parking that hinder the traffic flow and especially affect public transport. It has also contributed to an increase in traffic as many cars are circulating in search for a parking spot. Furthermore, availability of parking spots for residents is no longer sufficient.

The municipality reckons that freeing narrow streets from parked vehicles will increase the space for mobility. The city will work on technological developments for more efficient management of information, reservation and enforcement methods.  Bologna will also introduce differentiated parking fees based on the environmental characteristics of vehicles. The range of activities related to on-street parking include the extension of on-street parking payment areas in the city centre from 30,500 to 45,000 spaces, and an extension of the time frame during which parking fees apply beyond 20:00. Dedicated high rotation parking areas may be extended and improved through a new regulation of parking fees. Bologna will introduce paid parking permissions for residents for the second car per family.

For better economic management and effective enforcement, residents’ cars will be electronically marked with radio-frequency identification (RFID) or similar technologies. Enforcement will be stepped up with palmtops that are compatible with the car marking system, and mobile cameras to detect illegal street parking. RFID, optical character recognition (OCR), or other telematic systems will be used for vehicle access and parking permissions, but also for better mobility management. The electronic vehicle tag will not only have information on the license plate and details of the owner but also on environmental characteristics. This information can provide the basis for innovative parking policies. Increased revenues will be invested in improvements to the Park and Ride service.

How did the measure progress?

Bologna has developed a new layout for access permissions and software facilities to manage them. Political uncertainties have delayed the introduction of the new access permission scheme. Next, Bologna will provide residents with new and innovative permission cards with a bar code (which identifies the permit owner) that will give them access to the limited traffic zone and contains information about the vehicle characteristics. An information campaign on the new access permission policy and management is planned to coincide with the handing out of new bar coded access permits for clean vehicles (natural cas, gpl or electric cars). They allow for reduced fares on long term tickets. New permits will be soon extended to the other typologies.
These new bar code permits and the development of the new management system leads to a decrease in operation costs: fewer personnel will be necessary for the front office because citizens can renew or change data of their permits through e-mails and internet without going physically to the office.
Furthermore, the parking fees were completely revised.
This revision required the complete update of all the parking meters, the update of all vertical signs, the update of the payment vouchers “scratch and park”, as well as an information campaign addressed to citizens. ATC, the mobility company actually in charge of parking management in the city, has carried out the centralized control system of the parking meters through GSM and GPRS This allows for the online control of breakdowns and the status of strongboxes. Bologna is the first big Italian city that has realised the complete centralisation of parking meters (800 devices).
ATC has realised a new system for emissions of fines by means of portable devices. The devices come with cameras that allow the controller to take pictures of the parking offences and also to optically recognise the license plate. Some palmtop features needed to be fixed and some procedures have to be fine tuned. To match these needs a new version of the palmtop software has been released.
Between 17 and 21 May 2012, ATC carried out a survey among all the control operators (75 people) to evaluate their impression and acceptance of the new technologies introduced for parking control. Then between 11 and 14 June 2012 a telephone survey was conducted with a random sample of 500 citizens in order to evaluate their awareness and acceptance of the on-street parking management in Bologna.
For the future, ATC is looking to use data from parking meters and palmtops to carry out a punctual analysis and an accurate statistical evaluation about the use of public space. Further improvements will be implemented on the palmtops software in order to enhance their functionalities. Operators’ feedback is expected to allow ATC to fine tune technical features and operational procedures.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

Bologna expected that:
- the number of public transport buses that are punctual would be increased by 20 percent in areas where on-street parking will be restricted,
- illegal street parking would be decreased by 25 percent,
- the average on-street parking time will decrease in dedicated areas from 1 hour 11 minutes to 1 hour.
Previously adopted parking policies have achieved an average reduction of 17 minutes in parking time, which translates into an increased parking offer of two slots per day.

Results achieved so far are following:

  • application of policies on access to LTZ and parking fares from 2006 to 2011 has lead to a significant reduction of daily access to the centre by 20%,
  • data on the first part of year 2012 show a further reduction by 10% on the average number of accesses compared to same period of 2011,
  • parking meters collect around 90% of the revenues for short term tickets (and around 80% of the total revenues for parking fares),
  • reduction of fines for double parking decreased from 869 in 2009 to 297 in 2011
  • the survey showed that citizens value the utility of applying a fare to on-street parking in areas with higher level of congestion: about 56% has a positive opinion on paying for on-street parking as a way to reduce congestion of parking spaces in relevant areas.

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