The new public parking garage at 4th and Walnut streets, which opened in late August of 2021, has a lot of unused capacity.
That’s based on entry/exit and occupancy data for the first half of 2022, which was provided to The B Square by the city of Bloomington in response to a records request.
For the first six months of 2022, the peak occupied state of the garage came on June 22 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. when 315 cars were parked in the garage—based on the numbers provided by the city. More typical peak occupancy for a weekday is around 150 cars.
The reports generated by the parking system software show the capacity of the garage at 500 spaces, but during the design and approval phase for the garage, the number was pegged at 537 spaces. A manual count by the B Square this week put the number of total spaces at 560.
Based on 560 spaces, a typical peak occupancy of 150 on any given day works out to about 27 percent. A conventional parking industry benchmark is that 85 percent occupancy is perceived as full.
The garage replaced by the newly built structure, because it was failing structurally, had 352 spaces.
The numbers confirm some expected patterns.
In the mornings, the garage starts to fill mostly with customers who have a monthly permit (contract parkers), as opposed to people who are paying to park on an hourly basis. The cost is $0.50 per hour, which is half the cost of feeding a meter to park on the street. The cost of a permit depends on whether the space is reserved, but it’s at least $107 a month.
After 5 p.m., hourly parkers (aka “transient parkers”) outnumber those who use a permit to get into the garage. That’s consistent with the idea that during the day, it’s people who are driving to work who are parking in the garage, and in the evening, the people who are parking there do it on an ad hoc basis.
Many of the monthly permit holders work at businesses located in Fountain Square Mall, which is connected to the garage to the north by a suspended walkway.
According to Bloomington parking services, the number of monthly permit holders for each of the first six months of 2022 averaged around 280: (By month: 262, 264, 320, 292, 279, and 280.)
Measured by week, the garage shows somewhat stronger numbers starting in late March. That would be consistent with the closure of some sections of Kirkwood Avenue around that time—to allow for more outside dining. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that drivers who were parking on Kirkwood Avenue until the time of its closure, are now opting to park in the 4th Street garage.
Durational data—how long each vehicle stayed in the garage—was not a part of the records requested by The B Square.
The entry/exit reports extracted from the Amano McGann parking equipment were provided to The B Square as 180 separate Excel spreadsheets—one for each day of the first half of the year. The B Square confirmed with a representative from Evens Time Parking Control—which is the Amano McGann Inc. service provider for Bloomington’s part of the country—that there’s not a standard way to extract a single data set for entry/exit data.
The B Square counts among its readers some who have the technical skills to swiftly combine 180 spreadsheets into a single table. Here’s a link to that table: Excel Table of 4th Street Garage Parking Data.
[The fields t_entry and t_exit are for transient parkers. The fields c_entry and c_exit are for contract parkers. Fields with the word “total” indicate occupancy.]