Campaign aims to ease parking
By Karen Cohen
In approximately four square miles of downtown Atlanta, there are more than 23,000 residents, 62,000 students and 118,000 daytime office workers. Add to that number the thousands of daily visitors to the attractions and events and one would assume downtown Atlanta has a massive parking problem.
The reality is on a typical day, downtown Atlanta actually has a surplus of 30,000 parking spots. Why then is there a negative impression of downtown Atlanta parking when there are ample spaces?
Through funding by an Atlanta Regional Commission grant and contributing matching funds from the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, a downtown Atlanta parking assessment project launched in 2013. The goal of the assessment included strategically planning for the future of downtown’s parking assets and improving customer parking experiences. The parking assessment was completed in June 2014 and found people that work and live in downtown on a regular basis are overall satisfied with the parking system. But people that come to downtown Atlanta less frequently for an event or an attraction found parking more complicated.
The assessment showed some of the major reasons why people would not go to downtown Atlanta included parking cost, parking safety and difficulty finding a parking spot.
Currently, the downtown Atlanta parking system is managed by diverse operators all with different brands, signage, pricing and regulations. The fragmented parking system causes confusion and leaves motorists frustrated.
As a result of the assessment and stakeholder input, Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. developed recommendations to better manage downtown’s parking assets and enhance parking experience.
“Downtown Atlanta does not have a parking problem, it has a perception problem,” said Kimley-Horn consultant Brett Wood
The project developed several recommendations and pilot programs to test the efficiency of implementing specific recommendations. One of the recommendations was to develop a recognizable and consistent public parking brand to simplify the parking experience. This includes participating parking facilities having a consistent logo.
As a result, Central Atlanta Progress and ADID developed the “Atlanta Public Parking” brand and supporting campaign. The campaign recently launched and is in a pilot phase, funded by ADID.
“The Atlanta Public Parking campaign’s goal is to improve the customer experience and simplify parking by creating a perception of a broader parking system,” said Angie Laurie, CAP vice president.
So far, four parking operators have signed on to be a part of the pilot study and CAP hopes to recruit more. The participating operators will receive support in advertising, promotions and signage. The pilot will last 12 to 18 months and will measure customer satisfaction and parking operator satisfaction, as well as revenue and occupancy rates. Once the pilot is complete, additional recommendations and a further roll out will be evaluated.
SP Plus Corp., which does business in Atlanta under SP+ Parking, Central Parking, Standard Parking and USA Parking, is one of the parking management firms that participated in the recommendations for the parking project.
Jason Spoeth, regional manager for SP+, sees an important value in a cohesive downtown Atlanta parking system. “As the manager and operator of 80,000 parking spots in Atlanta, we are extremely invested in the public parking pilot. We believe the primary goal of building a more cohesive parking system allows us to simplify the process for drivers helping them park safely, quickly and efficiently.”
As to who will benefit most from the Atlanta Public Parking system, Wood said, “Initially, it will be the people less familiar with parking in downtown. But, in the long run it will benefit businesses and the city as a whole because an easier to understand parking system ultimately brings more people to work, live and visit downtown.”
- 9,300 - People per square mile
- 23,000 - Number of residents
- 18% - Neighborhood increase in past 10 years
- 118,000 - Number of workers every day
- 200,000 - Overall daytime population
- 13 million - Annual visitors to attractions
- 95,800 - Current number of parking spots
- 61% - Use of parking spaces used each day