Arthur Avenue Gets Next-Gen Parking Tech, But Not Dynamic Pricing

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is famous for its Italian food. Now, it’s also notable as the only place with NYC’s latest parking technology: sensors in the ground providing real-time data about parking availability, and a system that enables parkers to pay by phone. Mayor Bloomberg, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and Frank Franz, manager of the Belmont Business Improvement District, launched the programs earlier this week. While the technologies could help advance curbside parking reforms, the pilot programs aren’t being paired with new pricing or enforcement strategies that would reduce double-parking and cruising for spots.

Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan at Tuesday's parking technology announcement on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Photo: ## Mayor's Office/Flickr##

The promise of the new tech is that it can cut traffic by managing access to the curb more efficiently. Real-time sensors can be used to set parking prices so spaces are always available and drivers don’t double-park or circle around looking for open spots. Pay-by-phone systems, meanwhile, can help the medicine of dynamic parking prices go down easier by giving motorists a convenient payment option. In Miami, which is ahead of the curve on pay-by-phone tech, motorists “are very enthusiastic about the service, which includes texted reminders that parking time is expiring and the option to pay to extend time,” according to a 2011 report issued by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

The pay-by-phone pilot was first announced in 2011, following DOT’s 2010 Request for Expressions of Interest for a sensor program that could be used to set prices, assist enforcement, and integrate with parking placards. The pilot programs in the Bronx, however, are not paired with changes to the price of metered parking, which remains $1.00 per hour everywhere in the city except Manhattan below 110th Street and commercial streets in Park Slope that are part of the Park Smart program.

The pay-by-phone pilot covers 321 spaces, most within the Belmont Business Improvement District, and about a quarter in the nearby municipal parking lot often used by City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca. Drivers can pay for time in 15-minute increments up to the designated lime limit via smartphone app or a toll-free number, receive notifications via e-mail or text before their time expires, and pay for additional time from their phones. Because pay-by-phone participants don’t have display receipts from muni-meters, parking enforcement officers will be equipped with license plate scanners to verify that drivers are paid up.

DOT’s vendor for the project is PayByPhone, which provides the service in more than 180 North American and European cities. Drivers must sign up in advance at the PayByPhone website by providing their license plate and credit card information.

In the other pilot, 177 spaces have been equipped with disc-shaped sensors that feed real-time data to a parking availability map, currently viewable on DOT’s website. A smartphone app will be available within a few months. In anticipation of bidding on a larger, city-wide contract in the future, vendors Streetline, IPsens and Xerox paid for the sensors, which have undergone more than a year of testing since they were installed in January 2012.

At the time, Streetsblog asked Sadik-Khan if the sensors would be used to help set meter rates. “That’s not the intention right now,” she said, adding that once the program launched, there could be “all sorts of opportunities.” This week DOT told Streetsblog that the sensors are not being used to set prices or, as in Los Angeles, target parking enforcement.

Streetline, one of the vendors DOT is using for sensors in the Bronx, was also involved with a parking sensor pilot for the Roosevelt Island Operations Corporation, beginning with 29 sensors in 2010 and expanding this spring to all public parking spaces on the East River island. The state-chartered corporation recently issued an RFP for new parking meters that accept credit cards, pay-by-phone, and contactless payment, according to Jonathan Kalkin, a former RIOC board member who currently serves as co-chair of the Roosevelt Island Community Coalition.

The pay-by-phone and sensor programs are separate from Park Smart, which adjusts meter rates and hours to more closely align the price of parking with demand. Park Smart pilots are operating in Park Slope, Greenwich Village, and Jackson Heights; an effort on the Upper East Side was discontinued at the request of the community board. A new Park Smart zone should be up and running soon on Atlantic Avenue, Court Street, and Smith Street in Brooklyn.

Although Park Smart, pay-by-phone, and sensor technology operate as three separate pilot programs in New York, other cities, most notably San Francisco, have combined these types of innovations as part of comprehensive parking policy reforms.


Vacca Looks to Squeeze $ From Bikes, But Won’t Touch the Price of Parking

The headline from today’s City Council transportation committee oversight hearing was Janette Sadik-Khan’s announcement that the official launch date for Citi Bike is Memorial Day. Meanwhile, for Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, it was another occasion to flail at bikes and defend cheap parking under the guise of holding a budget hearing. Sadik-Khan kicked off the hearing […]

Janette Sadik-Khan: A Reason to Love NYC in 2007

New York Magazine’s third annual "Reasons to Love New York City" issue hits newsstands this week. Reason #35? "Because the Head of the Department of Transportation is a Cycling Radical." While I’m not so sure that’s a completely accurate description of the Commish, Anthony Weiss nicely sums up the change underway at DOT: Nobody in […]

Bloomberg Relieves Council Mems of Reserved Parking as NYPD Rants

Hours after yesterday’s Daily News broke the story of four City Council members having designated street parking near their offices, Mayor Bloomberg quashed the perk. Wrote Liz Benjamin on The Daily Politics: Bloomberg said he talked to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan after reading about the free spaces in this morning’s DN and told her "we’ve […]

DOT Capstone Report Looks Back, Offers Advice to Next Administration

Yesterday, DOT released “Sustainable Streets: 2013 and Beyond,” a 212-page report and accompanying website outlining the department’s achievements over the past six years and providing guidance for the next administration. Last night, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was joined by a panel of council members and New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson for a discussion of the […]

Shifting Gears at DOT

  DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan bicylcing to work during her first week on the job Crain’s New York reports that the earth is shaking below Dept. of Transportation headquarters at 40 Worth Street: Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s new transportation commissioner, politely says she’s building on the foundation left by her predecessors. In fact, she is […]

Sadik-Khan: Many Initiatives Are Under Way…

Today’s Crain’s Insider, available to subscribers only, reports on the next steps for the Bloomberg Administration’s broader Long-Term Sustainability Plan now that congestion pricing has cleared its first hurdle in Albany: 7.30.07 Crain’s NY Business The Insider by Erik Engquist and Anne Michaud GREEN PLAN Closer to home NOW THAT the Legislature has passed a […]