The National Academies

Transit IDEA J-04/IDEA 21 [Completed (IDEA)]

Smart Parking Lot with Just-in-Time Bus Service
[ TCRP J-04 (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis--The Transit IDEA Program) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Harvey Berlin

This project was aimed at developing and trial testing an adaptive software system and scheduling algorithm for a “smart” parking lot with just-in-time shuttle bus service to improve parking efficiency in large parking lots at intermodal and transit terminals. Based on the results, prototype input-output hardware and software systems were designed to prepare for deployment trials in a large parking lot at Portland International Airport (PDX). Demonstration tests were performed at the PDX airport parking lot. The deployment testing process will be supported through external cooperative funding.

Project Results

The project involved four stages of research. The first stage involved collection of information on parking issues in large intermodal parking lots and the development of an appropriate system configuration for operating the "just-in-time" parking process. A beta version of the smart parking simulation software was developed and preliminary results for a hypothetical parking lot were evaluated and found satisfactory to proceed to simulation of the more complex situation of a real parking lot. A panel of regional experts convened to discuss Stage 1 results and evaluate project plans and endorsed the development of the simulation to apply to the Economy parking lot at PDX airport.

Following refinement of the simulation, verification tests were performed in Stage 2 using the PDX parking lot configuration. The simulation has a dumb and a smart mode, enabling comparison of operating characteristics before and after implementation of the smart system.

Stage 3 involved additional refinement of the simulator based on data collected at the PDX Economy parking lot. Various operating characteristics were evaluated, and, based on the results, the system was improved. Criteria for designing input-output hardware and software were developed by applying the results of the simulation. The regional panel of experts was convened again to discuss proposed improvements and advise on plans for the fourth and final stage.

Stage 4 completed the design of an automated parking system to prepare for a pilot system on the PDX parking lot.


Project Payoff

The market potential and benefits for this concept are significant. The concept relates to parking information systems and will improve efficiency of parking at any parking terminal (with an input routine to define the lot characteristics). Time savings can lead to cost savings. In addition to the application in public transportation practice, there are significant applications in the private sector, where parking lots for large industrial campuses deal with several thousand users on a daily basis.

Product Transfer

The project was undertaken with the collaboration of the parking contractor at the PDX airport. The Port of Portland is the airport owner and was also represented on the regional panel of experts, together with TRI-MET, the local transit agency in Portland, Oregon. A successful demonstration was performed at PDX with external funding, following completion of the Transit IDEA project. The final report for this project was completed.

This approach has subsequently been implemented at parking facilities at a few airports. This would have applications for parking facilities for other airports or transit terminals or other large parking facilities.

The final report for this IDEA project can be found at:

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=2230