Oklahoma City had an unusual problem back in 1935. Employees were taking up all the downtown parking spaces. I guess some things never change.
Today, in the United States alone, there are approximately five million parking meters collecting those incidental charges. If we estimate a conservative average of $1 per day being deposited in each of five million meters six days per week (no Sundays), were talking about $1.565 billion per year. Thats a lot of quarters!
I dont know about you, but if thats my money, I want to make sure of a few things:
1) I want all my customers to pay.
2) I want all my meters to work.
3) I want all my money to find its way to my bank account.
Guess what? With conventional meters, all my customers are not paying. A lot of them dont have any quarters on them; theyd pay if they could. And though I have enforcement people writing tickets, lets face it, they cant be everywhere. I cant afford to have enforcement on every street!
To make matters worse, a lot of my meters are out of service. They jam easily, and are easily put out of service by some of my less scrupulous customers. Sometimes the meters are out of service for days, or even weeks before theyre discovered, reported, and repaired.
Wait theres more. Ask me how much money I have in each of my meters. I have no idea! I have to wait until my collectors come back, and my counters add up all those quarters. I hope they get it right, because I can't even conduct an audit. There has to be a better way."
Well, this is the last straw - the downtown business association is now complaining about the way the meters look! Youve got to be kidding! Whats a few bent poles here and there? What do you mean theyre an eyesore! When did streetscape even become a word?
But wait a minute this isnt 1935, its 2008! There have been technological advances! Were not stuck with the old conventional single space meters anymore! Todays multi-space parking meters out-perform conventional parking meters in virtually every way:
Multi-space meters give customers more ways to pay. Multi-space meters can accept coins, bills, credit and debit cards, smart cards, and even cell phone payments. When you give people more ways to pay, theyll pay! An added benefit is that absolutely everyone pays. Multi-space meters do not show unused time on their display screens, so customers no longer get to park for free by piggybacking on the time of the person who parked before them.
Multi-space meters are extremely vandal resistant. The best ones have a shutter at the coin slot that will not open for paper or card board, and will let paper clips and slugs pass through without incident. Bill acceptors allow for four-way insertion its idiot-proof! In the unlikely event the machine does malfunction, an alarm is automatically sent to you wirelessly, which advises you of the condition, so you can fix it down-time is minimized. In the meantime, customers can simply pay via another form of payment (coin/bill/card, etc.) or they can walk to the next multi-space meter to pay, so there is no loss of revenue.
Multi-space meters count and report revenue as its deposited into the machine. This means Ill know if any money is missing. My employees will know that I know, too. The reports are real-time and on-line. Ill even know when my employees are at the meter Ill get an alarm and a report advising me that the door is open, a collection is in process, how much was collected, etc.
Multi-space pay meters also provide remarkably accurate and detailed financial reports and statistics. Since every transaction is reported and recorded, Im able to sort revenue and volume by machine, location, time of day, amount paid, type of payment, etc. The entire city can be networked together and/or divided into neighborhoods, zones, streets, etc. This invaluable statistical data leads to effective analysis and planning. Multi-space meters are also capable of handling complex rate structures such as hourly rate day/flat rate night, weekend, event, or congestion pricing.
How many coins does a conventional meter hold? Thirty to fifty dollars in quarters? Multi-space meters can hold $700 in quarters, and $500 in bills. Fewer meters are required, and fewer collections are required. With credit card and bill payments, collections are faster and easier far fewer coins to transport, count, roll, and deposit.
Multi-space meters are environmentally friendly machines - 100% solar-powered, with no need to dig up streets running power lines or cablesand no electric bill! Also, their rechargeable batteries are recyclable and the units themselves are recyclable at the end of their on-street lives.
Multi-space meters improve the streetscape. I think most of them are better looking than pole mounted conventional meters, but you may disagree. One things for sure; there will be far fewer of them on each street since one multi-space meter can manage a full block.
Multi-space meter display screens can be programmed to communicate in multiple languages. Customers can push a button to select their language. Magnifico! Magnifique! Ausgezeichnet!
In summary, why choose multi-space parking meters? Because we can! Technology has made our lives better in so many ways. Its time to take advantage of all the advances since 1935 and start using the technology of today!
Dan Kupferman spent sixteen years as a parking operator before joining Parkeon as a Business Development Manager. Dan is the current President of the New England Parking Council. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.