Balancing of Truck Parking Demand by a Centralized Incentives/Pricing System

Balancing of Truck Parking Demand by a Centralized Incentives/Pricing System

The main objective of this project is to develop a centralized truck parking system that will balance parking utilization in time and space by using full information about supply and demand. An incentive/pricing scheme will be used to influence planners’ decisions in order to achieve a good balance between supply and demand for the benefit of the users and overall system. Recent surveys found that most drivers use unauthorized parking locations at least once a week. Furthermore, other studies report that many drivers often spend more than 30 minutes looking for parking, or park one hour earlier than required in order to guarantee parking, both of which reduce productivity.

Nevertheless, less than 50% of truck stops reported working overcapacity, and the reported difficulties with parking usually refer to the period between 7PM and 5AM. Therefore, redistributing parking demand over time and space may help mitigate the effects of the parking shortage. Despite being recognized as one of the trucking industry’s top issues, truck parking is rarely considered by studies on truck routing and scheduling.

The purpose of this proposal is to develop a central parking coordinator system capable of directing the multiple planners of the trucking industry into choosing itineraries that will not overburden any parking facility. The central coordinator will receive all parking demands from planners and parking availability from all relevant parking areas and predict parking availability at expected arrival times. If capacity can meet the demand then planning proceeds as suggested. If not the coordinator will use pricing as an incentive and suggest alternative lower cost parking where available in a way that benefits both the planner and overall system. Therefore, the researchers envisage the usage of a dynamic pricing or incentives system that will control the parking prices considered by all planners when deciding their itineraries. In this way, the actual route planning will be done in a distributed fashion by each planner, who will then communicate their parking needs to a centralized system. The cycle of planning, demand estimate, and price update will continue until an acceptable solution is reached. The use of a centralized parking system will have the following advantages: The central system will know the demand from all truckers and therefore predict parking availability/demand at future times more accurately than an individual user. Second, it can provide pricing incentives to balance supply and demand for parking in space and time. In order to develop and test the pricing system, the research team will use truck routing and scheduling algorithms developed in during previous projects.

These algorithms can account for several factors such as parking constraints, hours-of-service regulations and client time-windows, and will be able to generate a good estimate of how planners react to price changes under different scenarios. A parking price change, for example, may motivate planners to change their route for a lower cost parking in a location that is not on the initially planned route if their overall cost decreases.

The implementation of such a system will require that all truck parking areas are connected with a central coordinator, which is not the case today. However, technology is moving in a direction where such connectivity will be inevitable. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate how such connected environments can be used to develop systems that will improve efficiency and reduce costs to planners with positive impacts on the environment. The identified benefits will help accelerate the deployment of technologies toward a connected environment associated with truck parking.

Research Area