Detroit Upgrades Parking System to Pay by Plate


Detroit Upgrades Parking System to Pay by Plate

 Parking Today interviewed Detroit Parking Director Norm White about the city’s new Cale America based parking system.
The City of Detroit Municipal Parking Department (MPD) currently owns seven parking structures: five (5) structures downtown, one (1) structure in the Eastern Market District northeast of downtown, and one (1) underground structure north of downtown on the campus of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Total capacity is approximately 7,000 parking spaces. In addition, the department is responsible for 3,200 on-street parking spaces that are now characterized by parking zones, spread throughout 19 different areas. These spaces are now managed by 500 Pay-by-Plate kiosks, under our new ParkDetroit system.
What changes have you made to the parking operation in Detroit?
In essence, we wanted to transform our antiquated system into a proactive, rather than a reactive program, while making it easier for customers to pay, and a more efficient way to enforce, maintain and manage, For Detroit, that meant a complete overhaul.
In order to achieve these lofty goals, I knew I would have to assemble the best team possible to help execute. But instead of issuing an RFP for the overall solution, we issued several RFPs for specific components, to ensure he could select industry leaders in each specific concentration. Then the challenge was to integrate.
The city of Detroit selected:
Cale America to provide solar-charged Cale WebTerminal (CWT) pay stations with state-of-the-art technology for supporting plate-based payments, EMV-certified card payments with secure and reliable wireless data services.  
PCS Mobile to provide mobile parking License Plate Recognition (LPR) enforcement systems to provide time-limit, permit and scofflaw enforcement.
Duncan Solutions was already under contract to provide citation enforcement and processing systems, delinquent debt collection services
Passport to provide mobile payments through its mobile app.
DMC Strategies, a public affairs firm to provide community outreach, public/media relations, branding, web development and video productions, as well as collateral material to educate and inform the public. 
What is the public’s acceptance of the new Pay by Plate machines?
Overall, Detroit motorists have been pleased with the added convenience of the mobile app, which allows them to pay for parking and extend parking sessions without having to come back to the kiosk do so. Also, the integrated kiosk system allows motorists to extend parking from any kiosk, despite whether their cars are parked miles away. Also popular is the fact that this new system allows motorists to “roam within a zone,” meaning they can park in multiple locations within a zone, without starting a new parking session.
How do you go about enforcement?
Detroit now has a brand new fleet of parking enforcement vehicles equipped with a License Plate Recognition (LPR) system (provided by Genetec and PCS Mobile), and each parking enforcement officer is assigned a handheld enforce device (provide by Duncan Solutions) that is fully integrated with the Cale WebOffice database. That allows plate numbers to be scanned or input manually and processed in real-time
What has been the acceptance by city maintenance of the new machines?
Cale America provided a turn-key solution; local support here in Detroit; and ongoing training, which have all been a huge help to our team. Our maintenance staff works side-by-side with Cale’s team and a Detroit-based technical support manager to maintain the system. As a result of that partnership, our team’s technical knowledge is very high and our resources are used efficiently.  Cale also provided us with a comprehensive maintenance tracking system that creates an online ticket for service and allows our staff to update service tickets using an app on their smartphone or tablet.  
How do they stand up to harsh weather?
Cold weather finally arrived in Detroit in December, and the below-freezing temps have not impacted the operation of the system in any way.  We believe our decision to not have receipt paper and printers in the pay stations is contributing to the very high uptime for the pay stations, which is very close to 100 percent for all pay stations.  Of course, customers can always pay by mobile app, too. 
Have you been able to
collect good data from the machines and has that helped in your operation?
Yes, not just data from the meters, but feedback from our customers as well. Our revenue is up more than 100 percent with the exact rates as we had under the old system. Cale set up the ParkDetroit help desk which answers customer calls seven days a week, including holidays.  The help desk number is visible on ever kiosk and on our parkdetroit website (  Surprisingly, we’ve received very few calls – less than two calls per kiosk, per month, on average – which is tremendous!  
“Customer complaints regarding parking are at an all-time low in Detroit, which was a key objective of the project” 
For more information, please visit and
Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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