Salem has had a notorious reputation for parking problems in its compact historic downtown. Drivers vied for limited quantities of on-street spaces and fill prime garages, yet leave remote spaces and garages largely empty. After years of lobbying the State, Salem received official notice that a new parking garage would be built over its MBTA commuter rail station, but this only triggered a fight over who would get to use it. Stakeholders finally decided they needed professional advice to make a plan that works.
Nelson\Nygaard’s comprehensive data collection and mapping quickly revealed that there were already 1,500 empty spaces at peak within a short walk of the new garage site. Salem’s problem was not supply but rather a set of complicated regulations and imbalanced pricing that created a perception of low availability. We demonstrated that an entirely new management system would eliminate inefficiencies, excessive ticketing, and constantly-frustrated visitors.
Collaborating with economic development interests, the chamber of commerce, downtown residents, banks, and other prime stakeholders, Salem embraced a radical restructuring of prices and regulations that have greatly simplified parking in Salem with an intuitive three-tiered pricing system. The system has led to expanded business activity, significantly less complaints, more remote parking, and higher system revenues.