Parking garage

4th Street parking garage has unused capacity, based on midway through 2022 data – The B Square

The new public parking lot at 4th and Walnut streets, which opened in late August 2021, has a lot of unused capacity.

This is 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 registration request.

For the first six months of 2022, peak garage occupancy occurred on June 22 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., when 315 cars were parked in the garage, based on numbers provided by the city. The most typical peak occupancy for a weekday is around 150 cars.

Reports generated by the parking system software show the capacity of the garage at 500 spaces, but during the design and approval phase of the garage, the number was set at 537 spaces. A manual count by B Square this week put the total number of seats at 560.

Based on 560 seats, a typical peak occupancy of 150 people on any given day equates to around 27%. A conventional parking industry benchmark is that an occupancy rate of 85% is perceived as full.

The garage replaced by the newly built structure, because it was structurally failing, had 352 spaces.

The figures confirm some expected trends.

In the morning, the garage starts to fill up mainly with customers who have a monthly permit (contracted parking lots), as opposed to people who pay to park on an hourly basis. The cost is $0.50 per hour, half the cost of powering 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 per month.

After 5:00 p.m., people who park by the hour (or “transient parkers”) outnumber those who use a permit to enter the garage. This is consistent with the idea that during the day, it is people who drive to work who park in the garage, and in the evening, people who park there do so on an ad hoc basis.

Many monthly permit holders work at businesses located in the Fountain Square Mall, which is connected to the garage to the north by an overhead walkway.

According to Bloomington Parking Services, the number of monthly permit holders for each of the first six months of 2022 averaged about 280: (Per month: 262, 264, 320, 292, 279, and 280.)

Measured by week, the garage shows slightly higher figures from the end of March. This would be consistent with the closure of certain sections of Kirkwood Avenue at this time, to allow more dining out. But that doesn’t necessarily mean drivers who parked on Kirkwood Avenue until it closed now choose to park in the 4th Street garage.

Duration data – how long each vehicle has been in the garage – was not part of the records requested by The B Square.

Entry/exit reports extracted from Amano McGann’s parking lot equipment were provided to The B Square in the form of 180 separate Excel spreadsheets, one for each day in the first half of the year. The B Square has confirmed with a representative of Evens Time Parking Control, which is the Amano McGann Inc. service provider for the Bloomington portion of the country, that there is no standard way to extract a single set of data for input/output data.

The B Square counts among its readers some who have the technical skills to quickly combine 180 spreadsheets into a single table. Here is a link to this table: 4th Street Garage Parking Data Excel Table.

[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.]


Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins