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Curb Space Management: Las Vegas

June 10, 2019

Luis Maldonado

Curb Space Management - are you tired of hearing about that yet? If you are reading this article, maybe not just yet. But if you are tired of hearing about it, brace yourself…. this responsibility for Parking Managers is here to stay.


As with most large municipalities and universities across the nation, the City of Las Vegas is experiencing an increasing problem of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) (Uber/Lyft), as well as taxi services, limousine services, private bus services, etc., congesting the public right-of-ways and curb space as they do business within the downtown area. 


Because of the volume of TNCs operating in the city, and the behavior of many TNC drivers, the downtown often experiences traffic congestion and traffic hazards due to unsafe vehicular movement. This activity creates an unsafe pedestrian and vehicular environment, traffic delays, and increased vehicle emissions reducing air quality, and can ultimately result in an unpleasant experience for guests to the city. 


We needed a way to alert drivers, affect legal maneuvers, and communicate with those in violation without necessarily writing a ticket. 


 


In response to this issue, we researched how other municipalities were dealing with this problem and, in March of 2018, the city’s Parking Operations Division formed a task force. This task force brought together a heavy community involvement including the Mayor, affected City Council Members, affected City Department Heads, Business Associations, Business Leaders, Downtown Project Developers, Uber/Lyft Management, Taxi Companies, Taxi Authority, Police, Pedi-cab Companies, and the Regional Transit Commission. “The support from the community for this project was overwhelming,” said Brandy Stanley, Manager of Parking Services for the City of Las Vegas. 


With the goals of reducing traffic/curb congestion, improving the guest experience, and improving pedestrian and passenger safety, the task force identified several areas to explore:


• Active Loading and Unloading (ALU) Zones


• Pedi-cab Staging Areas


• Issue Smart City RFI to Seek Technology Solutions


• Monetization of Curb Space


• Identify Off Street Staging Areas for TNCs


• Dynamic Regulatory Signage


• Licensing TNC Drivers


• Manage Off-App, Gypsy Rides


• Public Education/Support Local Business


• Pair TNC Areas With Shuttle Stops


• Work With TNCs to Black Out Areas of the City


• Designate Alleys for TNC Queueing 


Unfortunately, some of these suggestions are just not doable, and others are just difficult to achieve. For instance, Nevada law does not allow local governments to impose fees on TNCs that are not imposed on a regular private vehicle, making the monetization of the curb space difficult. Also, TNCs keep their data (ridership numbers, number of drivers, most popular stops, etc.), close to the chest, making it difficult to plan for volume.


Low Hanging Fruit


Recognizing that many of the items listed above would require changing Nevada law and/or local ordinances, there were areas where we could move quickly. Here are a couple of examples:


Pedi-cabs were given their own “Pedi-cab Zones”. This not only removed Pedi-cabs from using curb space, but it gave them a safe area to solicit business. Additionally, streets that are currently closed to Pedi-cab use will be opened up providing Pedi-cab operators with more routes and greater exposure.


We established a pilot Active Loading and Unloading (ALU) Zone. Taking an area of curb (about seven parking stalls) that included a commercial zone, passenger-loading zone, and a taxi zone, we created an area available to all drivers. To enforce and monitor this area during peak times, we staffed the Zone with a Parking Enforcement Officer (PEO) and a “Taxi Starter” to coordinate taxi activity. The staff also gave us the ability to gather stats on the use of the ALU Zone.


The ALU pilot proved successful in many ways. Statistics showed that up to 800 cars per day were utilizing the ALU Zone, Uber reported that driver cancelations were down 46 percent, and both Uber and Lyft reported increased customer satisfaction due to the dedicated zone. 


Unfortunately, we were writing too many tickets, which is not what we were trying to do. We also realized that removing the PEO from the zone would cause the system that we created to fall apart. We knew from the beginning that the staffing model was not sustainable. Therefore, we began to explore a technology solution.


 


The Technology Solution 


The City’s Parking Services Division issued a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting parking and traffic monitoring systems that could be used for curb-space management specific to our needs in Las Vegas. Vegas is unique, because it’s a 24/7 gambling and tourist center, so traditional methods of managing the curb such as pay by phone, space reservations, and vehicle tracking are not as effective in reducing curb congestion. 


We needed a way to alert drivers, affect legal maneuvers, and communicate with those in violation without necessarily writing a ticket. 


The city received 21 responses to the RFI. In late Spring or the Summer of 2019, we will begin piloting a technology solution that combines space sensing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), vehicle identification, vehicular movement sensing, dynamic signage, photo enforcement technology, geo-fencing, and back end noticing.


This article is intended to provide a just brief summary of the process the City of Las Vegas has undertaken. There are literally hundreds of details involved. For more information, contact us at the email address below or attend Brandy Stanley’s presentations on the subject at one of this year’s upcoming parking conferences.


Luis Maldonado has been in the Parking Industry for over 35 years working for agencies such as UCSD, UCLA, UCI, CSUN and The City of Long Beach in California. He currently works with the City of Las Vegas in Nevada. Luis can be reached at lmaldonado@lasvegasnevada.gov



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