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Downtown ExpressPark Project on the Fast-Track

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, October 08, 2009, at 01:06PM
New Meters on 5th Eric Richardson [Flickr]

New meter heads like this one on 5th near Broadway accept credit cards and are solar powered. LADOT expects to deploy these enhanced meters across Downtown in 2010.

13,000 parking spaces in Downtown are slated to receive a technological upgrade as part of LADOT's new federally-funded ExpressPark program. 5,500 on-street spaces and 7,500 city-owned garage spots will take part in the effort, which will bring new meters, directional signage and pricing models to Downtown streets by the end of 2010.

The program is part of Metro's $290-million ExpressLanes Congestion Reduction Demonstration Project, which will bring demand-based toll pricing to the carpool lanes of the 110 and 10 freeways.

LADOT kicked off a pilot program for new meter technology in 2008, and one year ago multi-space pay stations were deployed in several Downtown locations.

The results of the deployment have the department convinced that new technology will bring big gains for on-street parking. LADOT staff told the city's Board of Transportation Commissioners today that real-time maintenance alerts and the ability to accept credit cards has helped the new meters to produce 15 - 20% higher revenue than traditional models, with credit cards accounting for half of all transactions.

The City will soon be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to update all of its 40,000 meters to new meter technology (which encompasses a variety of solutions, not just pay stations), but the ExpressPark effort is being fast-tracked due to the federal funding involved.

On the streets, Downtowners should expect to see new "enhanced" single-space parking meters that accept credit cards, new directional signage advising of real-time parking availability and new pricing models that adjust to demand.

The directional signage will involve the larger information signs currently installed various places Downtown as well as smaller block-level signs that will provide directions based on data from sensors embedded in the streets.

Behind the scenes, the program will involve a new central management system that collects meter data and allows the department to better understand usage.

While pricing could eventually be set in real-time based on usage, for now LADOT staff expect to see models that change meter costs based on the time of day, or that escalate the price the longer someone wishes to stay parked. The goal is to keep parking spaces 70 - 90% full.

The ExpressPark program will encompass meters and city-owned garages in the area bounded by the 110 freeway, Alameda and the 10 freeway, including Chinatown and an area south of the 10 between the 110 and San Pedro street. The federal government is providing $15 million in funding, with the City contributing a $3 million local match.

The department told the Board of Transportation Commissioners that it expects to bring RFPs for both the citywide meter update and the ExpressPark project back to the body at its next meeting.

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