New Digital parking Technology Replaces Exact Change in Talpa

"Buddy, can you spare a quarter?" This familiar lament heard throughout downtown will soon die down to a mere whisper as the City of Tampa's new parking system technology becomes common citywide.
intown120605b.jpgImplemented last month, the "I Park Personal Parking Card" makes it substantially easier for drivers to use street-level, city-owned metered parking. The portable digital tool allows commuters to prepay parking meters - essentially eliminating the need for exact change.

"We wanted additional payment options," explained Jim Corbett, City of Tampa parking manager. Right now, to park downtown two hours requires 12 quarters - a conundrum for the most organized downtown worker.

Instead, interested individuals simply purchase the I Park Card at the City of Tampa Parking Division for $20, prepay in either $50 or $100 increments, and keep the digital tag hanger in their car.
tampa.jpgWhen ready to park, drivers simply pull out the hanger, attach it to the rearview mirror, and turn it on, at which point it begins to deduct minutes.

Delivery companies, the media, and attorneys were the first to buy the I Park Card, having been familiar with a similar system sold back in the early 1990's, Corbett said. The Parkulator, although extremely popular, faded away after the product's manufacturers went out of business, he said.

The new I Park Card is programmed for both Ybor City parking rates (.75 per hour) and downtown's rates ($1.50 per hour). Users simply choose which they need to pay. Most importantly though, parking enforcement officers are able to see the active tag and can leave the ticket in their pocket.

David Mechanik is a partner in the downtown law firm Mechanik, Nuccio, Hearne, & Wester and chair of the Tampa Downtown Partnership's Transportation Committee. He purchased one as soon as it became available in early November. Until the I Park, he used garages extensively and worried about returning to a meter when meetings ran long. Now, he parks and leaves his car for hours, assured of a ticket-free windshield.

Additionally, privacy is a moot issue because the hanger does not interact with the meter at all - or with any other device. It simply counts down time. When users run out of time, they simply reload the device.

The Parking Department chose I Park after comparing it to a major competitor through a 60 day pilot program. I Park turned out to be smaller, cheaper, and just as effective, Corbett said.

Currently, interested users must go to the Parking Department's main office at the Fort Brook Parking Garage at 107 N. Franklin Street to purchase the device. Minutes are paid with check or cash, and additional hours require another visit to the department. Hangers may be reloaded 98 times and each recharge carries a $5 fee.

Corbett is working with I Park's manufacturer to streamline this process. I Park Card developer E-Park Systems, based out of Roslyn N.Y., created a software program that allows users to reload via a link on the City of Tampa's official Website.

For more information call Jim Arnold at 813-274-8524 or visit the parking division at its North Franklin Street office.

About ePark Systems

We are a technology and marketing company in the parking industry. ePark Systems has developed an innovative electronic parking system that makes the payment of parking fees more convenient for the users, while reducing costs and increasing revenue for governmental agencies, corporations, educational institutions and other organizations that have an interest in parking and parking revenues.

Our Product

We manufacture an "in-vehicle parking meter" the i Park card. Our product is a light-weight, credit card sized personal parking meter with an embedded computer chip, sizable graphic display and four-button control panel. The i Park card stores monetary value (money) that can be used for the payment of parking fees in areas with or without existing parking meters or pay and display machines.

The i Park card is easy to use. Parking credit (money) can be added to the card at any time over the telephone, on the Internet or by using counter top terminals at authorized ePark Systems retail locations. By pressing the buttons, the user can select the appropriate parking zone (in any city district or private parking facility). The i Park card's display not only indicates zone, but also shows applicable parking fees and the amount the vehicle has been parked. The i Park card may be kept in the vehicle, and when in use, is typically mounted on the rear view mirror for easy viewing by parking attendants or city parking officers
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