When drivers know whether a space is available in a park and ride lot, they are more likely to park their cars and use commuter rail services instead. This is the basic idea behind a pilot project on active parking lot management that Verband Region Stuttgart (Stuttgart regional association) is now launching in cooperation with Robert Bosch GmbH.
At 15 park and ride facilities along the commuter train lines S2 (Schorndorf) and S3 (Backnang), sensors from Robert Bosch GmbH will identify unoccupied parking spaces on a minute-by-minute basis and communicate this information in real time, according to the plans. The information on free parking spaces will then be available from the VVS Transit and Tariff Association Stuttgart app and website. Eleven cities and communities in the northeast of the greater Stuttgart area have agreed to support the pilot project. They will provide internet connections and electricity for the park and ride facilities, most of which are owned and operated by local municipalities. Verband Region Stuttgart will support this project with funding from a state-wide program aimed at transforming Stuttgart into a model of sustainability.
For Verband Region Stuttgart’s regional director Dr. Nicola Schelling, this trial will help make switching between cars and public transit more appealing: “By incorporating the latest technology in this project, we’re improving service in the region.” In urban parking garages, the standard for many years has been to count the number of times the gates open in order to calculate the available parking spaces inside. “We’re breaking new ground when it comes to park and ride facilities,” says Dr. Jürgen Wurmthaler, who is in charge of regional business development activities. The facilities used in the pilot do not have any gates, and some have more than one entrance or exit.
“With our sensors, we’re making the parking spaces part of the internet of things. We’re taking the search for free park and ride spaces off drivers’ shoulders. By doing so, we’re reducing the congestion associated with the search for parking and minimizing environmental impact,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, a member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH.
The pilot project will start at the beginning of 2016 with the installation of the Bosch sensors and will continue until June 2018. Occupancy levels will also be examined and analyzed to see whether the real-time information on free park and ride spaces actually encourages more drivers to take buses and trains. In the Stuttgart region, there are over 100 park and ride facilities with 50 to 700 parking spaces. The smallest facility in the pilot project has 49 spaces (Schorndorf), while the largest has over 520 spaces (Waiblingen)