gtechna blog


What pay by plate parking did for Galveston

Galveston parking

We love talking about how great Pay by Plate technology works, and why it’s the perfect parking management solution for municipalities of every shape and size. Without real world results, however, that’s just talk. Lucky for us, then, that there are numerous examples we can point out to show just how great this revolutionary technology actually is, and how it has changed the game for cities and towns that use it.

Cities, for instance, like Galveston, TX.

Some years back, Galveston needed to increase parking space turnover to ramp up civic revenues while also protecting local infrastructure and educating visitors and citizens on how the new parking model worked. They decided to use Pay by Plate with a pay by phone model, and the resulting across-the-board improvements were nothing short of extraordinary.


It’d be enough of a task to completely reinvent a city the size of Galveston’s parking management and enforcement, but Galveston posed a unique and unexpected challenge beyond even that. Galveston’s signature tourist attraction is its historic Seawall, a feature so important to the local economy that laws prohibit drilling, cutting, or doing anything else infrastructure-related to the Seawall itself. Unfortunately, many popular modern parking management options require some form of infrastructure development, whether that means new meters or pay stations or puck sensors. If the lion’s share of parking activity happened on or near the Seawall, however, those options were all out the window.

The city preferred Pay by Plate, all the same, even though under normal circumstances that requires on-site paystations working in tandem with pay by phone technology. Pay by Plate itself was a fine option that would work beautifully, but how to allow visiting tourists to pay without using their phone, and without their license plate being in Galveston’s local parking rights database?

The answer was almost too easy: the city set up payment stations inside local convenience stores. Merchants were given access to the pay by phone web interface so that they could initiate parking sessions on behalf of the parker. With that worked out, the sky was the limit for Pay by Plate in Galveston.

Galveston parking


From the first day they instituted the new parking system, Galveston reaped huge rewards. With zero new infrastructure necessary, they preserved the visual and structural integrity of their historic Seawall. With more spots turning over more regularly following the switch, popular public spaces became more accessible to anybody who wanted to visit the Seawall. Most importantly for the city, the parking management system upgrade generated increased revenue for local facilities improvement, and better still, the entire solution used to make these improvements was protected from damage that might be caused by occasional local hurricanes.

As to the nuts-and-bolts of new enforcement protocol, the city outfitted local parking enforcement SUVs with license plate recognition (LPR) scanners. When driving down the Seawall on patrol, these LPR scanners can detect if license plates have paid fees or are in violation in real time, reading plates at a rate of up to three per second. Even better, the plate-recognition and e-ticketing software are accessed using the same interface, creating a unified, user-friendly workflow.

Put it all together, and Galveston now enjoys a previously unprecedented level of efficiency and productivity, but that’s not all! In adopting a pay by phone model, Galveston avoided many capital expenditures and thus turned its new Pay by Plate technology into an instant source of revenue. In the first three months, 9,200 tickets written and over 34,000 paid transactions produced $100,000 in new revenue. Over the course of the first year, they generated $700,000 altogether, with both visitors and citizens giving extremely positive reviews and the city seeing an 80% increase in collection rates overall.


As you can see, a modern parking management system upgrade is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Galveston had special considerations to take into account prior to its system improvements taking effect, and they were able to find, and later tweak, the right solution to meet these needs. In the final wash, they molded Pay by Plate and pay by phone technologies into a unique parking management approach that protected a historic local tourist attraction, generated increased revenue, and improved the experience of parking at the Seawall in Galveston.

This is just Galveston’s story, though. A similar one could be told about every town that has decided to invest in a new and improved modern parking management system.

To learn more about how a transition to pay-by-plate might go for your municipality, download our white paper, “Transitioning to Pay by Plate On Your Own Terms.”

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