Streamlining Parking Enforcement Solutions: 4 Outdated Processes In Need of Improvement
27 Oct 2016
We live in a time of rapid innovation. The technological revolution has changed the way we do everything, from things as simple as watching television or making phone calls to more complex tasks like getting directions or making airline reservations. People can buy groceries without leaving the house, and speak face-to-face with family members on the other side of the world! This new convenience is extraordinary, and it extends to best practices for municipalities, including the daily operations of parking managers.
It’s an unfortunate fact that far too many towns and cities continue to rely on old and outdated parking management solutions, but market innovations are making the situation better every day. For every protocol that’s past its prime, there are new and improved methods that promote efficiency, effectiveness, consistency, and sustainability, all at the same time.
Below, we’ll go over four outmoded practices, and the ways that modern parking enforcement solutions can replace them for the better.
Four Ways to Improve Inefficient Parking Enforcement Solutions
1) Coin-Fed Meters
The issue: Street-side meters have been a crucial parking enforcement tool for decades, and it shows. It’s not just that they’re outdated: it’s that, more often than not, they’re incredibly inconvenient. Drivers don’t always have a lot of spare change on their person or in their vehicles, and meters can only conceivably charge so much because of this. The task of monitoring them is monotonous and labor-intensive, furthermore, and the lack of cash or credit options at older meters means the municipality is losing out on substantial revenue potential from parkers who want the spot but don’t have change.
The solution: Pay by space pay stations accept cash/credit and send alerts when a given spot is in violation, allowing for the convenience of metered spots without any of the above hang-ups or inefficiencies of visual enforcement. People can park, remember their spot number, swipe their credit card, and be on their way in no time flat.
2) Machine Payment at Surface Lots – Pay and Display
The issue: Surface lots without gates are both popular and easy to outmaneuver. The pay machines can be confusing to operate and prone to accidental misuse, and even if the driver does everything right they’ll have to return to their vehicle prior to exiting to leave the receipt on their dashboard. That’s if they pay in the first place, with cagey drivers able to beat the system or get in and out unnoticed, leading to lost revenue. Monitoring and protecting these spaces requires the hiring of on-site staff, then, whose salaries cost money, as does the paper on which the receipts are printed.
The solution: Machine payment at surface lots can be an inefficient, expensive, and disorderly way to do things. Systems that allow drivers to pay in advance for specific spot numbers, or something like Pay-By-Plate that allows drivers to pay for their particular vehicle’s presence with a virtual permit prior to parking or at a pay by plate paystation, are much better options. This system works in gated or ungated lots and garages. In an off-street scenario, for example, using a targeted approach, enforcement teams can access a dashboard displaying the parking rights of every vehicle. Officers only need to be in lots where there are vehicles in violation.
3) On-Street Visual Enforcement
The issue: Cities that use parking enforcement officers (PEOs) in vehicles to conduct visual checks run into a variety of problems both unsustainable and inefficient. For those systems that require PEOs to drive around in a monitoring vehicle all day, the constant stopping and starting, the idling while checking vehicles and issuing tickets, and hours upon hours of burning fuel while driving slow are all terrible for the environment. For PEOs that walk around all day chalking tires or checking meters, the process of enforcement is tedious and slow, easily beaten by vigilant drivers, and expensive for municipalities, relative to the revenue earned.
The solution: Any modern parking enforcement solution that does not rely solely on visual enforcement would be better than these. Not only do contemporary electronic processes offer a quicker and more consistent enforcement, they save municipalities on payroll costs while generating greater revenue. Adding handheld or vehicle license plate recognition and a pay by plate system simplifies the parking management process.
4) Old Gates and Ticket Spitters
The issue: Garages and lots that use gated entrances and ticket spitters are wonderful options for making sure every vehicle using the lot is accounted for, but they’re not without their problems. The gates are often old and wearing-out, and require maintenance that can be a real time- and money-waster, particularly if the maintenance issue allows people to park for free or, conversely, shuts off the lot altogether. In the event trained staff are on-hand to man the booths and check payment, payroll costs can eat up a lot of the revenue generated, as can the paper for the tickets and the gate itself, in the rare chance a malfunction causes damage to a vehicle.
The solution: Pay by plate offers a much better option. Fixed LPR cameras capture plates and can determine if a vehicle gets access to the garage or lot, take inventory to manage capacity, and monitor which vehicles have paid at a pay station or by phone.
Contemporary Solutions are More Efficient and Sustainable
Investing in modern parking enforcement solutions like pay by plate provides local municipalities with a new way to do business. Gone are the old, slow, inefficient ways, and in their place are best practices in-line with our fast-paced, sustainable contemporary preferences. There’s nothing that says parking regulations have to lag behind the pace of innovation; with a new focus and a more streamlined approach, towns and cities can fall in line with the speed of modern life.
Pay by plate won’t implement itself, of course. To see what the task might look like for your municipality, read this white paper, “Transitioning to Pay-By-Plate On Your Own Terms.”