City of Westmount

In recent years, Westmount noticed that the limited parking spots available, as well as construction in the area, were deterring potential customers from shopping in the area. The City decided to take the challenge head-on by implementing the first on-street pay-by-plate parking management system in Canada.

Overview

Westmount’s 20,000+ residents are proud to be part of a city that values open communication, fosters a sense of community, preserves heritage and protects green spaces and the environment—a city that promotes leadership, and strives to give their residents the best possible services and policies. As one of the oldest municipalities in Montreal, Westmount has a rich history to preserve while continuing to support initiatives that will carry it into the future.

Problem

There were around 750 parking spaces available in Westmount and yet there were still a significant number of complaints regarding the number of spaces available, inadequate parking, turnover, ongoing construction in the area, or simply lack of proximity to local stores. The parking situation had a direct effect on local merchants and their business potential.

Increasing the number of parking spots available became one of the city’s top priorities, along with finding an overall better management system to address other issues and complaints such as defective meters, or the constant struggle of finding change to feed the meter. In the winter, meters can block access to snow removal teams leaving snow to pile up, a blight on city esthetics and an inconvenience to drivers trying to locate and access available parking spaces.

 

This simple and elegant solution to updating on-street parking is yet another example of the City’s long-standing penchant for innovation,
said the Mayor, Peter F. Trent.

 

Solution: Pay-by-plate technology

Westmount was already working successfully with gtechna on their back-end administrative system and therefore opted to partner with them and their pay-by-plate technology that allows for vehicles to move to other available parking spaces within a designated area. The pay-by-plate system was already being used in Pittsburgh, Washington, Seattle as well as several other US and Canadian cities.

As a solution provider, gtechna is best known for its unified full-featured real-time parking systems.

In terms of integration, Westmount already had a standard e-ticketing system with gtechna. Therefore, the current system was updated to the latest version, upgraded from PDA to Android devices and enhanced with the add-on of new parking management component. A total of 73 new parking pay stations featured pay-by-plate technology.

In collaboration with a pay-by-phone vendor, the parking system is easy to use, accepts payments by coin, by credit card and, of course, also by mobile device. Drivers have the ability to pay for a certain amount of time on their license plate and this allows them to move around from parking spot to parking spot if they have multiple errands to run within a certain designated area. It is therefore possible to add minutes to your parking using any of the available MacKay Meters in the area. The mobile app also allows users to add on minutes from anywhere without returning to a pay station. The biggest advantage is that there is no need to look for change if you don’t have any.

Westmount has also eliminated lines on the road to designate parking spots. This will allow for more parking spaces to be available. “The biggest advantage right off the bat is you get 15% more spots because you eliminate the stripes on the road,” said Philip Cutler, City Councillor. Total number of spaces went from 750 to nearly 900!
The one catch is you’ll need to remember your license plate.

Metered parking is a point of frustration that motorists experience on a frequent basis. With the introduction of pay-by-plate parking, Westmount is reducing that pain and ultimately making metered parking more convenient, accessible and efficient through innovative technology,
said Councillor Philip A. Cutler.

Results

Westmount is proud to join the many municipalities around the world using this system, and to be the first to adopt it in Canada. The change has attracted people to the area and encouraged them to shop at local businesses. Merchants have increased their business as well as their relationship with the shoppers. Some merchants even thank shoppers by validating their parking.

As a bonus, the meter-free sidewalks have improved walkability and snow removal operations. The elimination of designated spaces allows for various sizes of cars or SUV to find a parking spot.

Revenue is expected to increase and should offset the cost of Westmount’s migration to the new system, though not by much. Westmount has decreased the hours of operations however, the pay-by-plate solution has increased the number of parking spots available by 15%. The revenue generated balances out and should therefore be more or less the same.

Additionally, Westmount is very often at full capacity which means they have reached a cap on possible additional revenue. However, what can be noted is an increase in transactions per day as well as an increase in plates checked per day with 400 per shift, and a decrease in infraction volume which can only mean that the compliance rate is up.

With over 20,000 users using the app exclusively, and the app accounting for 1/₃ of the transactions, integration with convenient payment technologies has given more options and convenience to the driver. In turn, this has helped reduce complaints, increase compliance and overall customer satisfaction. Actually, the number of app users keeps growing, while complaints continue to decrease.

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However, what can be noted is an increase in transactions per day as well as an increase in plates checked per day with 400 per shift, and a decrease in infraction volume which can only mean that the compliance rate is up

How to Use the Pay Station in a Few Steps
City of Westmount

Conclusion

This project has generated a lot of interest from other cities looking for real-time parking solutions. Several cities have been impressed by the implementation and success of Westmount’s pay-by-plate system.

In June 2017, this innovative project earned the City of Westmount a nomination by the Quebec Transport Association for the Grand Prize for Excellence in Transport. This prize recognizes various projects in the transportation industry and inspires and encourages local initiatives.
Westmount has been and will always be a pioneer and early adopter of new technology. Who will follow in their footsteps?

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