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New pilot project tells you in advance if there’s available parking at Montcalm-Candiac bus station

Smart train parking
WATCH ABOVE: Commuters in Candiac now have a new tool to know how full the parking lot is at the bus station -- even before they get there. Global's Dan Spector explains.

A new high-tech system is letting drivers know how much parking is available each morning at the Montcalm-Candiac bus station in Montreal’s south shore.

Last fall, officials installed sensors at the parking lot’s entrance and exit and linked the information — with data on whether there will be any free lots within the next 15, 30 and 60 minutes to come — to the City of Candiac website.

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After recording, analyzing and processing traffic data over the last year, an algorithm was developed to model parking trends.

“It’s good, but I think there are not enough places to park. The parking lot is too small for the amount of people,” said commuter Adrianna Delvillar, who said the pilot project was a good idea to help people find a spot.

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“They need to do, like, a parking lot in floors. It is a madhouse, especially during fall and spring.”

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The goal is to allow commuters the chance to go online and see if there are any free spots before they head over to the bus station.

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“This project fits perfectly with exo’s desire to forge close ties with its municipal partners, and to develop innovative strategies to make public transit more user-friendly,” said Sylvain Yelle, exo executive director.

“With this initiative, our clients will be better equipped to know how many parking spots are free in advance, and adjust their schedules and means of travel to the terminus. ”

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The system isn’t flawless, though — with construction until Sept. 27, some areas of the parking lot are closed, leading to inaccurate numbers.

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“This parking lot is full, like, every day it’s full,” said commuter Patricia Brones.

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“Now they’re paving. Why didn’t they pave during the weekend? It just doesn’t make sense.”

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City officials say the program is a first in Quebec and is still being updated.

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“This new pilot project, for a forecasting system at the park and ride lot, is still at the testing stage,” Candiac Mayor Normand Dyotte told Global News in a statement.

“We are giving ourselves a few weeks before a more precise appraisal and more accurate results may be gathered.”

There are 353 free parking spaces, three spots for people with disabilities and 50 spaces for bikes at the Montcalm-Candiac bus station.