A place to park
For the last five years, Houston has been replacing its outdated single- and double-head coin-only parking meters with solar-powered wireless, multi-space pay-and-display stations. With 750 stations installed so far, the city is seeing increased revenue and higher productivity for meter maintenance staff.
The city began the $15.4 million project to modernize the parking program in 2006 because the existing meters were obsolete and in disrepair. The city also wanted to offer drivers several payment options, making it easier and more convenient to park downtown. Houston contracted with Dallas-based ACS, A Xerox Company, to manage the installation of 1,000 multi-space digital parking pay stations from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada-based Digital Payment Technologies.
The new pay stations accept coins, credit cards, bills and coupons. Since installing the new parking stations, Houston officials have seen a 65 percent increase in parking revenue without raising parking rates. A primary reason for the increase is the pay-and-display stations reset the meter for each space to zero right after drivers pay, so the next driver cannot see if any time is left on the meter. Also, if people do not have coins, they pay with bills or credit cards, and the pay stations do not give change. With credit cards, people generally pay for more time than they need to avoid receiving a ticket. The new parking stations also have allowed the city to introduce a pre-paid parking pass that allows drivers to park at multiple metered spaces throughout the day.
Houston has seen a 33 percent productivity increase for meter operations staff, who now only need to collect money from the stations when they are near full, and a $120,000 reduction in payroll costs because there are fewer meter maintenance issues. Also, the pay stations send an alarm when there is a problem, so maintenance staff know what the problem is when they arrive to fix it. The city also is seeing more paid citations each month, even though the number of citations issued is not increasing, because the pay station receipts leave less room for dispute about whether a citation was warranted when the meter expired.
For more information, visit Houston's Parking Management website: www.houstontx.gov/parking.
Project: Parking meter replacement
Agency: Parking Management Division
Vendors: Dallas-based ACS, A Xerox Company; Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada-based Digital Payment Technologies
Date to be completed: March 2011
Cost: $15.4 million