The Debate Goes On: Are Gates Still Needed?


The Debate Goes On: Are Gates Still Needed?


The debate over gated or ungated continues. Certainly, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. When a ticket has to be pulled to open a gate, gated facilities seem to represent the parking of old. If you think this is an overstatement, just ask a Gen X or Gen Z driver what they think. You will likely get an earful. That is because they are used to ease, convenience, and being able to conduct most life activities (other than eating) with a smart phone or an app.  


From the perspective of the owner or operator, gateless means lower capital expenditure at onset, and lower operational costs (no mechanical failures and less personnel needed). For the driver, gateless means frictionless entry and exit. Delays at entry and exit are frustrating. Ever been halfway up a helix waiting for someone struggling to pay so the gate will go up? There is also credibility to the argument that gateless will improve revenue as most parkers will purchase for more time than they anticipate needing.


Gated usually means higher compliance with the rules of the facility regarding reserved spaces, monthly parker spaces and payment. 


In an ungated facility, collections improve because most customers will pay for more time than they need and those who do not pay will receive an invoice. Further, technology allows operators to be notified when a scofflaw enters the facility. Many platforms are offering the ability to extend sessions remotely, providing text messages when the session ends, and a multitude of post validation/VIP features. Gates are great to ensure payment (except when the gate malfunctions and everyone goes home free). Many operators are also adding LPR cameras which are linked to payment options that open a gate as you approach, without the need to interact with the gating system.


The negatives noted about gateless have been less data, more effort for staff to protect reserved parking, potential for customer fraud, and more education required.


Wherever there is a problem, there are solutions. Technology is now available to meet customer expectations and to improve the parking experience in either gated or ungated facilities.


Some of the newest technologies provide:

  • ­­­Virtual permitting.
  • ­Post validation offerings.
  • Ability to add time remotely.
  • Ability to make reservations.
  • Option to set or change rates easily through the backend by the operator.
  • More affordable wayfinding solutions.
  • VIP areas can be protected gates and a gate kit.
  • Robust backend data gathering and reporting.
  • Backend systems can provide revenue control without the need for loops and construction.
  • Ability to send invoices using LPR cameras and license plate look up.
  • Automated notice of violations to enforcement staff upon entry to facility.
  • Multiple payment options.
  • App and app-less permissions.
  • Platforms that provide endless possibilities for monthly parkers.
  • Advertising of other businesses to patrons on the payment platform.
  • Remote customer service access without the expense of an intercom or using existing intercoms.


The choice is for the individual owner or operator. When exploring technology, you can select the best in class for each solution. Insist on open APIs and integrations so that you can deliver the best customer experience possible. 


We are creatures of habit and will usually park in the same location until it feels unsafe, inconvenient, or unwelcome. For those of us in the industry, sometimes we forget that the parking facility is not the ultimate destination. In order to attract and retain customers it’s all about SCW- safety, convenience, and feeling welcome.


Scott Petri, President, Mobility Parking Advisors, LLC can be reached at

Article contributed by:
Scott Petri, Mobility Parking Advisors, LLC
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