Decision Support Tool For Parking Management At Universities

Parking on university campuses is always a problem due to too many students driving to campus (demand) and insufficient number of stalls (supply). Most universities use parking permit price to manage the demand. They also zone the parking lots to control the supply. Both strategies shift the equilibrium point between the demand and the supply. UTEP Civil Engineering Professor Dr. Kelvin Cheu, Ph.D. student Okan Gurbuz and graduate student Ximena Jauregui is developing a decision support tool to help universities to manage parking. Their research was supported by Center for Transportation, Environment and Community Health (CTECH), a University Transportation Center funded by U.S. Department of Transportation.

Cheu, Gurbuz and Jauregui have been studying parking issues and management strategies at four university campuses (UTEP, Cornell University, University of California at Davis and University of South Florida), and have collected data from 208 universities in U.S.  They have developed two equations. One predicts the “base” price of a student parking permit per year (12 months); while another one estimates the fraction of students who will purchase parking permits. These equations use campus setting, cost of living in the city, tuition fee, weather, enrollment, faculty/student ratio, etc., as factors. In addition, the demand for student permits depends on the “base” price and the “base” price set by the university depends on the demand. Both equations must be solved iteratively.

In practice, the actual student permit prices deviate from the “base” price. The team has also developed a differential pricing procedure to determine the differences in the permit price based on the geographical locations of the lot, lot type (garage, covered, open lots), shuttle service frequency and walking time to the final destinations on campus.

The model (equations and procedure) may be applied to, for example, study the “what-if” scenario if a university is to increase in permit price in the next semester; or predicts the situations several years into the future when the enrollment, cost of living, tuition fees increase, but with and without parking capacity expansion. The team have presented this research during the CTECH Annual Meeting at Davis, California on November 9, 2018. They will present their model and its applications at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on January 14, 2019.

Eventually, they want to demonstrate that better parking management strategy (balancing demand and supply) will lead to efficient use of the parking stalls and at the same time keep the parking search time to the minimum. This will reduce emissions, and improve campus’s community health.

Photo: UTEP Ph.D. student Okan Gurbuz and his poster at CTECH Annual Meeting.