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Metered parking reintroduced: how parking space utilisation trends are evolving in downtown Budapest

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Assessing urban parking habits is important not only for city management, but also for residents, tourists, commuters and the environment. Thanks to modern technologies that have revolutionised the recording of traffic data, both real-time and historical data are available to understand this. The Smart Lynx Smart Parking Dashboard makes all this data available, which can be analysed to provide key statistical information for parking management.

In a previous blog post, we used the data provided by our Smart Parking solution to show how the coronavirus has changed parking habits in the city centre, and now we look at the impact of the re-launch of metered parking. Analysing the parking space utilisation data during the free parking period, our main finding was that the number of free parking spaces in Budapest’s 5th district decreased by 75% on average. This meant that during peak hours the average occupancy rate increased to 98%, in other words it was practically impossible to find a vacant parking space during this period. How do these figures evolve now that metered on-street parking has been reintroduced?

Although occupancy has fallen noticeably, it is still not easy for drivers looking for parking in the city center at peak times: on weekdays, the highest occupancy is between 10am and 1pm, at which time around 10% of available parking spaces are free. Fortunately, our Smart Parking mobile app, Parker can track in real time where exactly these spaces are, so that drivers using the app can still park quickly and stress-free.

By night time, occupancy rates tend to fall back to 65%, and only from 6am onwards do the figures start to rise again. During the free parking period, night-time occupancy was much higher, at around 75%. When looking at the weekend occupancy figures, there is not such a big difference between the two periods.

If we include metered parking data from before the coronavirus outbreak in the analysis, we find an even more interesting change: overall, the occupancy rate of parking spaces was higher during the pre-COVID paid parking period than during the reintroduced paid parking period, which started at the end of May. The reasons for this are presumably to be found in changes in people’s lifestyles, for example the home office has become commonplace in many companies. The difference is most striking when looking at the weekend data: before the pandemic, the average Saturday daytime occupancy rate was between 94% and 97%, while in recent weeks it has been between 73% and 79%. The background to this are certainly the negative effects of the pandemic, whether it be the lower number of guests in restaurants, cinemas, theatres or the epidemic restrictions still in force.

Our analysis provides an insight into how Smart Lynx Smart Parking solution provides useful and detailed statistic information to city management. In addition to parking space utilization data, the reports also detail average parking time, number of parking events, and the distribution of parking events by length. 

These are key data to optimise operational processes and analyse trends, as described above.

The parking data provided by Smart Lynx can also be used at the residential level via the Parker app, which navigates drivers to available spaces, saving them time, money and stress.

Parking is always a part of driving, whether for work, shopping or leisure, yet some say parking is the “urban crisis” of the 21st century, as in most cities it is difficult to find a free parking spot. So the key challenge for parking managers is to make the best use of this precious resource, and Smart Lynx solutions provide the tools to do just that.

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