Saturday, July 7, 2012

Can your Iphone Help Media's Parking Problem?

Park Mobile website
Year after year people ask about what can be done to improve Media's parking situation.  With the popularity of Dining Under the Stars, State Street events and daily courthouse traffic, the problem has become more pronounced and perhaps more challenging.  Let's face it, there's only so many parking spaces for the inflow of cars and putting a parking garage at Olive and Front Street or adding another level to the current Olive St. garage would cost a lot of money, if it was ever approved.

This situation isn't unique to Media, as other localities face similar parking challenges.  However, what are they doing about it?  Well, during my travels this week, and looking for a place to park, I noticed a well lit sign that instructed drivers to download an app to pay for parking with their smart phone.  This didn't alleviate the immediate shortage of parking spaces, but much like real time traffic apps and Ezpass, this too could have great potential.

First, let me explain how the service works to the end-user.  The app is a free download that works on all the leading platforms (Iphone, Android, Blackberry).  As with these services, you'll have to link it to a debit/credit card and provide personal data along with your license plate number of your vehicle/s.  Once you enter an area that provides Park Mobile service (Media does not have this service), you'll enter a zone and parking space number to pay for parking.  The benefits to the user include a text message when time is running out and the ability to pay for additional time if needed.

The service is meant to provide simplicity and convenience for the end user.  I must admit, this would be easier for me to use than finding numerous quarters every time I wanted to park, whether in Media or else where.  One use in particular, which I know would be an immediate hit,  would be the Media train station.  But there is a bigger advantage to this system which lies in the vast amount of data that can be collected to better mitigate parking across the borough.

In 2011 Media borough collected approximately $70,000 in parking fines and over $400,000 in fees, but I bet no one could break down the density of the highest rate of where the infractions occurred, times the occurred, etc.  With a system like Park Mobile, the borough could gather invaluable information on where the popular spots are, how long people park there, what time of the day it's used and perhaps how much are people willing to pay.  Would people be willing to pay $1.00 an hour on State St., as opposed to $.50 on Front or Baker Streets?  How about a parking special of $.25 an hour at the Olive Street garage with a coupon to a local sponsoring business?  The scenarios are impressive and vast.  Parking enforcement and those who check the meters like it too!

Taken a step further, people could possibly see in realtime the parking situation on State St with recommendations on where to park instead.  This service can also be used for parking permits which are needed in various parts of the borough.

11 comments:

  1. An app could be useful for those driving into Media from out of town.

    If and when possible, it's better to walk or take public transportation.

    For those of us who live within a mile of downtown, walking might save time, money and even a little carbon footprint . . . all while burning a few calories!

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  2. Unfortunately, it's unrealistic because people want absolute convenience. It would be cool though if a lot more of the government workers etc. would use Septa. By rights, people should be pouring out of the Media Line and 101 trolley each morning. There's even a tax shelter program whereby an employer offers pretax income to be set aside in a separate account to be used specifically for public transportation.

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  3. Brendan O'RiordanJuly 7, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I like the data collection capabilities of the system you've described, Ted.

    If an additional garage is ever built, I just hope the Borough uses land already dedicated to parking.

    What I would like to see is enforcement of basic traffic laws. For example, I routinely see people making U-turns, three point turns, etc. on State Street and the main N/S streets in the borough. Yet I never see anyone pulled over and ticketed for this nonsense. That's not to mention the speeding through residential areas and the millisecond pause (if any) at stop signs.

    We need a shuttle from the train to Orange and State Streets. This might alleviate some traffic and parking woes. Easier said than done, I know.

    How about a massive parking garage at the Media Inn site, BUT with the ground floors dedicated to retail that pushes up to the sidewalks on Baltimore Pike, perhaps with a buffer zone between the structure and the residential areas of State Street.

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    Replies
    1. Brendan,

      Thanks for adding to the conversation, you always present interesting ideas not discussed before. Someday I hope to see the R3 line connected again to West Chester, in which the shuttle bus would be a stellar idea. In fact, I'd like to do a story with Septa on what the future holds for that development. I've walked the tracks recently, and things are ready to go for the extension out to Wawa.

      Thanks

      Tedman

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  4. Media should rid itself of ALL meters except. State St. And around the Courthouse.Initial purpose of meters was to move spaces onstate St. For shopping...now too many crazy restrictions too many resident only blocks...again only near Courthouse would be right...people avoid coming to Media because of the parking issues...I know my way around and always find a space..leave the meters alone it is bad enough already..changes suggested in article only add top confusion..

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  5. Brendan ORiordanJuly 7, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Residents must pay for a parking permit if they live on a street without off-street parking that has permit-only parking. Any parking rules in residential areas SHOULD favor the tax paying residents of the borough who in addition to property taxes pay the 1.00% income tax.

    Right now meters are on State Street and the surrounding business district as well as the Courthouse area. With such a high volume of non-residents flowing through daily, the meters are needed to generate revenue.

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  6. In an age where less people are carrying cash (let alone change) this is a really nice feature. I am more inclined now to not put any money in the meter and take my chances of getting a ticket than trying to track down some quarters.

    Just little easy conveniences like this can make Media more attractive to outsiders and one less thing to have to think about when visiting our town. This is like an ez pass for parking, even nicer is the fact you don't need to run back to feed a meter and can re-up right from your phone.

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  7. Restaraunts should combine and offer valet...plenty of spots in eve off state st to park cars.......courthouse should offer pay to park..weekends when garage is empty..could put some $ in coffers...

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    1. Brendan ORiordanJuly 9, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      There should never be valet parking in Media. If we want people to come here and patronize our businesses, they should deal with having to park and walk around the business district to get to their restaurant of choice. On the way they will pass places like Earth and State, 320 Market, the various salons, Seven Stones, etc. and perhaps come back another time to visit these stores, shop there, and infuse money into Media's economy. In addition, valet parking usually takes up one to three parking spots, causes back ups of cars circling for the valet, and has the valets circling the blocks for spots.

      I do think however your idea of the courthouse opening garages for pay to park on weekends could work, but who would keep that cash is not certain. My guess is that the county government would retain any income from such a plan, assuming county government owns the garages.

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    2. Valet would ease the anxiety some feel about parking in. Media.Peopel would still be able to stroll around but arrive at a designated area to pick up car...plenty of places to park cars, just off business area,dont know where the three spots used comes from.

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  8. Just saw a system like this down in Rehoboth - except that they were using kiosks instead of individual meters. You enter in your parking spot number, and pay by phone. However, the Rehoboth kiosks didn't print receipts like the ones in Philly do. I suppose the system could text or email you a QR coupon instead of printing one out (and creating more litter).

    Mapping available parking spots would be sweet, but you'd have to be able to queue up and reserve to avoid people racing to them.

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