A recent technology upgrade in the parking meter industry allows people to pay with their smart phone at meters. This technology has been introduced by a hand full of cities in the last year and interest is growing by leaps and bounds. One great advantage is it gives every parking meter the ability to be a credit card meter without costly replacements of older meters.
The one drawback has been the lengthy and somewhat costly process of contracting a vendor and then paying for the various interfaces between the various vendors who handle the meter, financial and enforcement software, with the new vendor.
“After reviewing current cities success with the new program, the one holdup for us was not wanting to monitor another system. We determined in 2012 we wanted to move to one backend system to manage all of our data and hoped one of our vendors could bring the system to us as an add on to our current system, not another system.,” said Corpus Christi Police Parking Operations Control manager, Marc Denson. ”With all of the meters and the few pay-stations under one backend system with Duncan Solutions in Corpus Christi, ideally the solution would be for them to offer us an internal solution, which they have now done.”
Parking technology integrator Duncan Solutions, collaborated with ParkX, and Brazos Technology to create a mobile payment application that gives motorists an easy way to pay for parking that would be part of the current system in place. The Park Corpus Christi (Park CC) mobile app will be launched starting in late-April on the city’s 1163 parking meters.
The new app will allow motorists to pay for any parking meter within the city directly through their smartphone. Furthermore, the Park CC app will automatically send a message reminder five minutes before their parking session expires. The alert will allow the motorist to remotely add time, thereby reducing the likelihood of receiving a citation.
During Denson’s research he discovered cities currently using the program have seen citations drop by as much as 35%. “The majority of people who pay with coins rely on what’s in their pocket to cover the time they need, thus gambling on a citation. Additionally, we wanted to give our customers the ability to receive a message before their meter expired and a fair opportunity to avoid citations,” said Denson. “Having the pay-by-cell option will accomplish that while also making parking available to more people.”
Local shops and restaurants will be one of the primary beneficiaries of the Park CC app. Not only are patrons likely to stay longer; but local businesses will have the opportunity to advertise to subscribers via location-based offers through the app. Merchants will also be able to offer their customers validation for parking by depositing coupon codes into their Park CC account.
The new effort reflects a commitment made by Denson in July 2012 to expand payment opportunities and reduce citations. The ability to park using a credit card is something that has been desired in Corpus Christi for years, but was limited by the cost of converting all 1163 meters with the credit card option. Currently 300 of the cities meters have the credit card option available and to convert the remaining 863 would have cost the city upwards of $600,000. The new Park CC app will now give all of those meters credit card capability at virtually no cost. The efficiency is something Denson believes will have a ripple effect on the greater community.
Paying by phone will not change the time on the meter itself but will be registered on the hand held ticket writers showing who has paid and who has not. By entering the parking space number from the meter and your license plate with the payment Parking Enforcement Officers will see the payment made on the hand held unit after scanning the barcode on the registration sticker of the vehicle. The system does not give city employees an access to alter any of the data only read it.
For those who prefer traditional methods, the coin option still exists. Using the Park CC app will cost motorists a 35 cent convenience fee but as Denson puts it, “The real value comes with the reminder to avoid citations. 35 cents can save you 35 dollars (the cost of an average citation). It’s a no-brainer.”
Park CC will be free to download in both the Apple Store and Google Play Store. All participating vendors will be present at the Texas Parking & Transportation Association Conference and Tradeshow April 21-23, 2015 at the American Bank Center Convention Center.