Managing On-Street Parking for Commercial Vehicles

Manage by Price, Minimize Congestion, Increase Revenue, Reduce Costs, Data Analytics

Hundreds of cities deal with congestion from commercial vehicles that generate multiple parking sessions every day while delivering goods or services to people and businesses. These vehicles compete for curb space and loading zones. They drive up congestion and emissions. They park illegally. Their drivers seldom pay at parking meters or by cell phone since the relativetransaction cost of paying is too high. More typically, they pay via citations—if they are caught.

What is most striking is that commercial vehicles tend to park very frequently and account for about 25-30% of all business-hour parking sessions, but comprise only about 3-5% of the vehicles on city’s streets. The fact that relatively few vehicles account for such a large management opportunity means solving this problem will make a significant impact on reducing urban congestion.

How it works

The PayBySky service is designed to be self-funding allowing a city to engage without capital investment. The City provides the pricing rules for the parking zones it wishes to manage, and instructs its enforcement team to enforce commercial vehicles exactly as though they were pay-by-phone or pay and display users. Participating users acquire and self-register an in-vehicle meter for the service. The self-installable, OBD-plugin meter is similar in format to that used by a number of insurance companies for usage-based insurance.

Setting up PayBySky requires designated loading zones to be represented in a digital parking map with associated rate tables. This is used by the system to detect and register paid parking credentials.

PayBySky is used during any parking session within a defined parking area and the vehicle is granted a real-time parking credential. For enforcement purposes, credentials are accessible wirelessly within seconds.


Numerous parking studies from several cities show that demand pricing for parking spots alleviates congestion. Managing demand means multiple charging time segments during the business day coupled with variation by location.

But we already know that the relative transaction cost for meter or even smart-phone payment is too high for commercial drivers that stop many times daily for only a few minutes each. Hence, these drivers are seldom compliant.

Now, with a single, critical difference—automated metering and payment—performance pricing can work for commercial vehicles, too. Automated in-vehicle metering never misses a payable parking session and never miss-charges. Because it is automated, PayBySky handles numerous charging rates and times while relieving the driver of any complexity or responsibility for errors.

Use anonymized cruising data generated by the PayBySky system to redistribute and minimize congestion. This real-time data shows where and when prices should be raised or lowered to achieve optimal occupancy.

Since this is done without curbside meters, it can be automated with rate tables managed online for logistics managers to plan vehicle routes. It is even possible to alternate concurrent rates among logistics operators to further smooth demand.

Reduce citations by automating payment. This avoids any effort or omission on the part of the driver and ensures there is never a reason to have a meter-payment violation.

Use progressive pricing to be sure that average turnover stays under two hours. And set progressive rates so that the incremental revenue makes up for any missed citation revenue—even while reducing enforcement expense.

Reduce equipment by relying on wireless payment and enforcement. If your city has already deployed pay by phone, then there is no new equipment to add and likely no system changes to deploy.

As more parkers use cell phone and PayBySky, you can begin a gradual program of meter attrition. Increase compliance by making it easy to pay and to pay correctly. Where automated, there can be no meter violations for participating vehicles.

This also allows parking enforcement to refocus on the other 50-plus parking violations.

Increase your effectiveness with analytics gathered as vehicles approach to park. Use this as empirical evidence of where prices should be raised or lowered.

Mimic the caution used by both SFpark and LA Express Park by re-pricing only once every four or eight weeks and then only by a maximum of 25-cents per change to converge gently on an optimal price.

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