A PhD student has developed a website to reduce traffic congestion in Manchester by making parking easier.
The site was designed by Ioannis Tsopelas, of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology's civil and construction engineering department, as part of his PhD project. It gives all the information a driver needs to head straight for an available parking space in Manchester's city centre. It should ease traffic congestion by reducing the number of cars that circulate in the city before finding a space.
The website lists the prices, disabled facilities and opening hours of 17 car parks in the city centre. It has a search facility that finds the car park nearest to many Manchester landmarks and provides a map of the area.
Drivers may soon also be able to download real-time information about how many spaces are left in car parks through a link between the website and Manchester's parking guidance scheme.
Mr Tsopelas said: "At present the website is useful when pre-planning a journey as it tells you the best place to park when visiting a particular restaurant or theatre... the possibilities for an integrated information system in the future are endless."
Although he has used Manchester as his model, Mr Tsopelas said the website could be adapted for any city with traffic problems. But he thinks congestion in London could be better tackled by improving park-and-ride schemes.
He thinks Ken Livingstone's plan to ease traffic congestion by charging motorists £5 for driving through the centre of London could backfire. He believes wealthier Londoners might start driving again instead of using public transport, as soon as they see any improvement in the roads.