In-Town Parking: What Works? Innovative Practices in Parking Provision

Author ATCM

Car parking in town centres is a complex and emotive issue; however, there is not a one-size-fits all approach to parking, nor is free parking the universal solution. Based on case study reviews of 11 locations across the UK and US, this ATCM report advises how effective parking strategies can be devised.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

Town and city centres face significant challenges relating to car parking costs and provision, with a need to respond to the demands of a range of place users, in addition to a number of changes in the external environment (e.g. car demand and consumer behaviour changes). However, to remain competitive, centres need to understand and be adaptive to the current and future wants of place stakeholders, as well as ensuring good accessibility. Drawing on case study reviews of 11 locations across the UK and US conducted by ATCM (Oxford; Nottingham; Aberdeen; Dundee; Middlesbrough; Tunbridge Wells; Maidenhead; Colchester; Rugby; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa), this report provides some guidance in how parking practice can be enhanced, moving beyond seeing free parking as the universal answer. Although places are unique, meaning a one-size-fits-all parking strategy is not possible, the case studies reveal a number of success factors (although with varying degrees of success in each place), as detailed below:

  • Integrated transport and accessibility strategy (considering car parking alongside wider transport and accessibility strategies)
  • Connected value (forming partnerships between businesses and car parks)
  • Assessing place user perceptions (finding out what place users want from car parks)
  • Minimising traffic in the core (ensuring a balance between car users and pedestrians)
  • Intelligent and flexible tariffs (e.g. temporary concessions, price segmentation etc.)
  • Modern payment methods (enhancing place user convenience through technological advancements)
  • Intelligent transportation systems (technological advancements to make back room operations more efficient)
  • Space utilisation (considering parking spaces as multi-functional)
  • Wayfinding (improving signage to help drivers to reach their destination)
  • Communication and transparency (honest communication about how funds are spent to minimise myths and hearsay)
  • Safety and security (ensuring car parks are clean, well-managed, and safe).