With a temperate climate and miles of pristine beachfront, millions of locals and visitors from all over the world flock to Huntington Beach, California year round which means that parking is at a premium at the City’s Pier Plaza parking lot and on-street parking meters. To help manage demand and generate turnover at the beachfront parking lots, the City implemented a pay-to-park policy and installed multi-space pay stations as a way to accept payment.
The City of Huntington Beach was the first city to offer credit card payment for parking in the US as part of its efforts to provide a convenient parking experience for beach goers and downtown patrons. Yet despite their enhanced payment options such as credit/debit cards, the machines were plagued by maintenance issues and required frequent battery replacement. The machines communicated via daisy chained copper wires which quickly degraded due to the corrosive salt water environment. Credit card processing was slow and resulted in lines of frustrated patrons, waiting to pay for parking.
In addition to the beach lots, multi-space pay stations were installed at the City’s Sports Complex which plays host to several sporting events throughout the year. The City offers varying rates for vehicles and RVs. However, the old machines could only support one fixed rate. As such, customers had to pay at specific pay stations, depending on which type of vehicle they were parking, resulting in inconvenience and confusion.
Proven Technology Provides Innovative Solutions
In light of these issues and in order to improve the customer experience, the City turned to San Diego-based parking technology vendor, IPS Group, Inc. which is the provider of the City’s credit card-enabled single-space meters. IPS offered the City an innovative solution to maximize the life of its existing infrastructure, while eliminating maintenance issues and enhancing customer service. The City installed IPS upgrade kits on its existing Digital Luke 1 and VenTek 400 pay stations which gave the City access to the latest in smart parking technologies, while allowing the City to maximize the life of its existing equipment since the upgrade kit is installed right onto the existing pay station cabinet. This environmentally-friendly alternative to a brand new pay station offered customers additional features at a fraction of the cost of a new machine.
Utilizing the existing housing, the upgrade kit consists of a new machine door which houses a compact main operating board, single-sided thermal printer, coin acceptor and card reader. Certain models of the kits feature LED lights that illuminate the display screen and can also be used to provide additional lighting for maintenance personnel. Once upgraded, the multi-space meters feature a large, backlit graphical display with the ability to show graphics and text in any language. What’s more, the meters utilize built-in wireless technology optimized for the parking application, which decreases processing times from minutes to mere seconds. Customers benefit from the IntelliTouch™ feature which provides additional flexibility when completing a transaction. Users may begin the payment sequence in the manner most intuitive to them after which the pay station will guide them through the transaction.
Upgrade Kit Benefits
- State-of-the-art technology for 50%-75% less than a new pay station
- Environmentally friendly – retrofits the existing pay station cabinet
- Modular components housed on the pay station door translate into easy, in-field repairs
- Retrofits most pay stations currently on the market (including European models)
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Modernizing Existing Equipment
In addition to the benefits to customers, the upgraded pay stations decreased the burden on maintenance personnel and many of the maintenance issues experienced with the old machines have been eliminated. Dennis Thompson, Parking Meter Supervisor with the City of Huntington Beach states “The components are right on the pay station door which translates into easier maintenance for our staff.” In addition, the advanced power efficiency of the machines means fewer batteries to replace. The armored glass display is less susceptible to vandalism, and the modular components means that any necessary repairs can be completed in minutes, right in the field. The new machines have also improved safety for collections staff. In the past, collections staff had to wait several minutes for a receipt to print, leaving them susceptible to robbery. With the new machines, collections time takes just seconds, and the location of the coin box means that staff can remain upright.
Continued Successful Partnership
Due to the successful deployment of the existing single-space meters, the City could attest to the dedicated customer support and reliability of the products which have become hallmarks of the IPS brand. “We like IPS because our customers like IPS, and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for,” explains Thompson. As such, when the City sought an innovative solution to modernize its existing pay stations, it naturally turned to IPS. The Revolution Upgrade Kits allowed the City to upgrade its infrastructure for 50%-75% less than the cost of a new machine. Moreover, the upgraded pay stations and the City’s existing single-space meters communicate to the same backend system. There is no need to maintain two separate systems.
The City plans to upgrade the remainder of its pay stations with the IPS upgrade kits which have been well received by the public due to the enhanced payment options and more convenient parking experience.
About IPS Group, Inc.
IPS Group, Inc. is headquartered in the US, with offices in Canada and the Netherlands (www.ipsgroupinc.com). IPS is a design, engineering and manufacturing company focused on low power wireless telecommunications and parking technologies and has been delivering world-class solutions to the telecommunications and parking industries for nearly 20 years. The company offers a complementary PROVEN product suite, comprised of multi-space pay stations, pay station upgrade kits, single-space meters, vehicle detection sensors, smart cash collection systems and advanced data analytical tools.