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Optimizing for Efficiency Across Every Neighborhood


The City of Berkeley is made up of an array of distinct neighborhoods within a moderately dense urban environment in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. According to Gordon Hansen, Senior Transportation Planner for the City of Berkeley, “Berkeley is a mid-sized city with an out-sized reputation.” With the University of California, Berkeley located adjacent to downtown, the City has a diverse set of constituents living near the university and in its surrounding residential areas. The City of Berkeley manages approximately 3,800 metered parking spaces, serviced by approximately 2,200 single-space meters and 230 multi-space kiosks. In addition, the city has two off-street open surface parking lots and three public garages.

Being able to pay with ParkMobile reduces reliance on physical infrastructure and presents new opportunities for managing a large supply of parking.” – Gordon Hansen, Senior Transportation Planner for the City of Berkeley


Introducing a Mobile Payment Option in Berkeley

Prior to offering a mobile payment option, the City of Berkeley had been using coin and card-operated meters for over ten years. “Bringing a mobile application to the City was bringing us into the modern era for parking options,” says Hansen. While coin and card payment would always need to be provided in compliance with California state law, Berkeley had been looking at mobile payment options for a while as part of the City’s strategic roadmap for modernizing the parking program and providing alternative payment methods to customers.

After receiving a directive by the Berkeley City Council to evaluate mobile parking options, the City issued a request for proposal, deliberated over respondents, and eventually chose ParkMobile to be the City’s first mobile parking app. The City appreciated that ParkMobile already served neighboring cities in the East Bay, including Oakland, San Leandro, and Walnut Creek, making it easy for people to use one parking app as they travel between locations. ParkMobile also provided a comprehensive marketing program, including signage implementation, that would help build awareness for the app.

Implementing ParkMobile Across the City

In May 2018, the ParkMobile app launched across the City of Berkeley’s neighborhoods, including the proto-industrial Fourth Street area and the tree-lined, streetcar suburb of Elmwood. “The implementation process was pretty spot-on,” says Hansen. Partnering with ParkMobile for installations, the City worked on custom signage and decals to make sure that all necessary details, including zone numbers, time limits, and hours of operation, were accessible to customers in an aesthetically pleasing, informative manner across the city. “This was an opportunity that our partnership with ParkMobile afforded us to do,” says Hansen. In addition to offering a mobile payment option for metered parking, the City of Berkeley also partnered with ParkMobile to offer parking reservations at the Center Street Garage located downtown.

Berkeley by The Numbers

118,000+ Residents

3,800 Metered Parking Spaces

35,000 Average Monthly Users Through ParkMobile

15,000 Average Monthly Transactions Through ParkMobile

Building Awareness for Berkeley’s Customers

To maximize efficiency, the City of Berkeley has also implemented goBerkeley, a data-driven, demand-responsive parking management program, in five of the City’s commercial districts: Downtown Berkeley, Euclid/Hearst, North Shattuck, Southside/Telegraph, and the Elmwood. By collecting parking occupancy data, the program is able to adjust pricing based on supply and demand. The City’s aim is to achieve 65-85% occupancy across each area.

As part of goBerkeley, the City provides two different types of parking areas – Premium areas, which are located centrally with shorter time limits and higher prices, and Value areas, which are located further out with longer time limits and lower prices. To easily differentiate between these two parking areas for customers, blue signage is used in Premium areas and green signage is used in Value areas.

The City worked with ParkMobile to design custom decals that would fit these signs, creating an attractive and convenient way to educate customers about how to pay for parking in goBerkeley areas using the newly available app. The City of Berkeley also built awareness by issuing a press release, which was picked up by local media outlets, and by having a team from ParkMobile engage customers on the street, educating them about the new app and giving out branded premium items.

Furthering Optimization Across the City’s Parking Operation

“Whenever I tell customers that ParkMobile is an option, they’re pleased to hear about it. They especially enjoy the convenience of extending their sessions,” says Hansen. Since its launch, the ParkMobile app has seen year-over-year user growth of over 40% and the number of transactions processed through the app has increased 52%. “Overall, we’re looking to make sure that our customers have as many options available to them as possible,” says Hansen. The City of Berkeley plans to continue analyzing app usage in order to build greater awareness across its neighborhoods.

In addition to goBerkeley, the City is also managing a grant-funded pilot program to analyze parking in residential areas adjacent to the City’s commercial districts in order to effectively manage demand in these locations. “Being able to pay with ParkMobile reduces reliance on physical infrastructure and presents new opportunities for managing a large supply of parking,” says Hansen.