(BALTIMORE, MD - July 10, 2015 When a resident called the Executive Director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City last fall to complain about its new program that requires payment from people with disabilities when parking at meters, she did not expect to be thanking him for saving her over $1,000 in parking fees by the time she hung up the phone. But that is exactly what happened.
The resident, who would like to remain anonymous, was extremely upset at the Parking Authority when it launched Phase 1 of Project SPACE on July 10, 2014. The joint program between the Mayor's Commission on Disabilities and the Parking Authority of Baltimore City changed parking in downtown Baltimore in three ways.
Phase 1 includes the on-street metered spaces in the area bounded by Franklin Street to the North, President Street to the East, Pratt Street & Key Highway to the South and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to the West. Additional areas will be added in the future.
The resident who called the Parking Authority wanted to express her frustration at having to pay for parking, and she did. But, Executive Director Peter Little asked her a few questions, starting with how often she drives downtown. She said that she regularly drives downtown twice a week, except for two weeks each summer – once a week to do volunteer work for three hours at a non-profit organization on Redwood Street near South Street, and once a week for two to three hours for doctors' visits near the University of Maryland Medical Center. He confirmed with her that she makes about 100 trips downtown per year, and that her average stay is three hours. Mr. Little then asked how often she was able to find a parking space on-street prior to the implementation of Project SPACE. She found an on-street parking space less than 10% of the time. He asked her where she parked the other 90% of the time when she couldn't find an available on-street parking space. She would park in a garage or parking lot 3 or 4 blocks away from her destination. When asked, she said the cost to park at the garages and lots was, on average, $20 – for just 3 hours!
Peter then asked her about her experience parking since the implementation of Project SPACE. She told Peter that she is always able to find an on-street space, usually within a block or two of her destination and often at a metered parking space reserved for people with disabilities – but she was upset that she now had to pay at the meter. He asked if she had ever had to park in a garage or lot in the 3 months since the implementation of Project SPACE and she replied, "Not so far."
Mr. Little then did some quick cost calculations. After doing so, he gave her the results:
Peter told her that Project SPACE was saving her $1,200 per year in parking costs, and making parking more convenient for her because she is now able to find an on-street parking space closer to her destination every time she visited downtown.
"She paused for what felt like a full minute and then said that she hadn't really looked at it from that perspective, and she thanked me for my time and the conversation. I thanked her for the same," said Peter Little, Executive Director for the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.
The Parking Authority worked closely with Dr. Nollie Wood, Executive Director of the Mayor's Commission on Disabilities (MCD), to implement Project SPACE. The goals of Project SPACE are simple:
Those goals are being met through Project SPACE.
At an MCD meeting in 2012, members were asked to raise their hand if their disability placard had been stolen in the past. Nearly every hand in the room shot up. They are not alone. An average of 23 disability placards were stolen per month from 2007 to 2013, as reported by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). After the launch of Project SPACE, the average number of disability placards stolen per month, as reported by the BPD, dropped to less than three. By removing the incentive to abuse disability placards, they are no longer a prime target for thieves in Baltimore City.
Project SPACE has made it easier for all parkers to find an available parking space. Before the launch of the program, an average of 72% of vehicles parked in the most affected areas of downtown Baltimore displayed disability placards or had disability license plates. These same blocks were 95% fully occupied, leaving virtually no available parking spaces after these daily commuters parked their car.
After the launch of Project SPACE, the same blocks showed a dramatic improvement in both areas. Surveys conducted a few months after implementation showed an average of 5% of cars displayed disability placards or plates and the average occupancy rate decreased to 77%. So, availability of on-street parking has jumped from only 5% (1 in 20 spaces available) to 23% (almost 1 in 4 spaces available) through Project SPACE. That is a lot more available parking spaces for everyone.
The Parking Authority of Baltimore City is a 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to find, or create, and implement parking solutions for Baltimore City, and to be the resource on all things "parking" in Baltimore.