If you live in a city or at least spend some time in one, you’ll know that city parking is the bane of many city dwellers’ existence. As if finding parking wasn’t hard enough, keeping parking meters fed often requires breaking off in the middle of an event – a meeting, a party, a show – and rushing back out with a handful of change to add more to the meter in order to avoid a parking fine.
And all this is presuming that you were actually able to find legal parking to begin with.
Today, more and more cities are making use of payment kiosks and mobile phone apps to facilitate municipal parking. “Smart” parking lots can direct drivers to available spots, at which time the user can use a simple mobile phone app to reserve and pay for the spot.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, inspired by the more high-tech parking systems of other cities, recently revamped its municipal parking process. Philip True Savino, a consultant for the Pittsburgh Parking Authority (PPA), told the Web site State Tech that keeping up with old-fashioned meters was becoming a hassle for the city.
"We were short on resources to continually empty the coin boxes when they were full, so we were dealing with excessive jamming and repair requirements, along with frustrated customers and lost revenue," said Savino, who notes that many motorists don’t carry the right change and would like to pay with credit cards, something the meters couldn’t do.
The city sought to implement an automated solution that would increase revenue, improve the PPA’s efficiency, effectiveness and transparency, and take advantage of emerging technologies. It chose a “pay by plate” solution that allows motorists to input their vehicle license plate number into a payment kiosk instead of requiring a parking space number or paper receipt. The system allows motorists to manage their payment from any kiosk, so if they’re in a different part of the city and their meter is due to expire, they can use any kiosk to “top off” their parking. Parking authorities can then use hand-held devices to input the plate number of the vehicle and check on its parking payment status.
The new system has paid off for Pittsburgh. In the first five months of the program, the pay-by-plate solution boosted the PPA’s monetary intake by nearly 60 percent, despite the fact that officers have actually been writing fewer tickets, according to State Tech. In the future, the Parking Authority says it plans to roll out a mobile app to support the system, which will allow motorists to pay for their parking quickly via their wireless devices.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson