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Commercial drivers in Philadelphia can use an app to reserve and pay for parking in crowded loading zones.
Philadelphia will pilot smart loading zones as part of an effort to digitally manage commercial delivery drivers’ loading activity, limit dangerous or illegal parking and encourage efficient use of curb space.
As competition for curb space in the city grows among delivery and ride-share services, parking and congestion issues at loading zones have increased. An app that allows commercial drivers to schedule curbside pickup and drop off times and make online payments for parking in smart loading zones aims to reduce traffic concerns as well as the financial penalties that drivers face as a result of illegal parking.
The pilot will test the curb data specification, a digital tool created by the nonprofit Open Mobility Foundation that uses APIs to gather information on curb activity or dwell time so officials can better manage and regulate curb usage. Cities may also use CDS to digitally publish curb locations and regulation data, which can be shared with residents and businesses using curb space.
The availability and regulations of parking in smart loading zones are digitally codified into the Pebble Driver app, allowing delivery companies to reserve spaces and pay only for the time they use. With the app, drivers have access to real-time information such as zone availability based on reservations, operational hours and vehicle length. It also provides navigation to loading zones with turn-by-turn directions and an electronic payment system for drivers, officials said in the announcement. Additionally, fleet administrators can manage multiple fleet vehicles through a single account, according to an FAQ sheet.
The reservation fee for the smart zones will be $3 per hour and prorated up to one hour, officials said. Drivers found parked in smart loading zones without a reservation or past their reservation time limit will be ticketed and possibly towed.
“Currently, the City doesn’t know how loading zones are used in Philadelphia and how many people need to use them,” said Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for transportation, infrastructure, and sustainability. “This pilot aims to better understand the usage of loading zones so that the City can figure out ways to improve traffic safety and reduce congestion. Overall, the project aims to identify how loading zones play into the larger picture of Philadelphia’s traffic and streets usage.”
The pilot program will launch Oct. 17 and conclude in April 2023. Partners include SmartCityPHL team, the city’s Department of Streets, the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
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