Technology hopes to ease Yorkdales parking pain

Parking at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto on a Saturday afternoon can be a stressful experience, but with new technology, it may get a little easier.
There are now digitalized parking counters set up at each lot to tell customers how many free spaces there are, and when the lots are full. Robert Horst, property manager of Yorkdale Mall, believes this will eventually lessen competition for spots.

People are creatures of habit, and tend to circle the same areas for spaces, Horst said. Our primary goal is to make people aware of the parking decks that arent being used as often.

The counters set up by A1 Counting Solutions uses a computer program to record the number of cars going in and out of each parking zone, but the arrows pointing to the lots are confusing to 23-year-old Sandra Gagliano. I dont know which lot is the west lot or the east lot, Gagliano said. Its hard to understand.

According to Horst, the directional arrows are self-explanatory, but the mall is always open to improving the process, he says. Safety was also an issue to Gagliano who was honked at while trying to read the counters. The car behind me got mad because I took too long to turn, but I was reading the (counter), Gagliano said. I think itd be hard for people to read them and drive at the same time.

Horst is confident that the counters are user-friendly and safe. They are placed in areas of high visibility, he says. Theyve been positioned in areas where traffic can be halted in time for people to read, Horst said. We spent time researching which areas would be ideal to set up the counters.

The installation of the counters occurred prior to last years busy Christmas shopping season. They went live in mid February, just in time for Valentines Day shoppers.For Humber College student David Huynh, it took almost half an hour to find parking. He ultimately landed in one of the parking decks.

I waited last minute to go shopping for Valentines Day, Huynh said. The main parking lot is insane I didnt know that there would be so many spots in here though.This is the feedback that Horst is looking for. The main intention of the counters is to direct people to the parking decks. Since setting up the counters he has seen positive results.

Early indication is that we are seeing a progress in the use of our parking decks, Horst said. The outcome of the counters seems to be successful. With high hopes for the new parking counters, Saturday afternoons at the mall can mean more time shopping, and less time finding parking.
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