Pushing “PBP” technology
The Future on a Plate – License Plate, That Is
Metro Pay By Plate (PBP) multiple space terminals are the answer from every angle, according to their manufacturer, Global Parking Solutions (GPS). Here’s why:
“Pay-by-plate terminals deliver the critical economies and efficiencies that major parking installations need today,” said ITS Technical Director Mark Oliver.
“That’s why PBP has been adopted by major cities in the U.S., Canada, and around the world, including Pittsburgh, Miami Beach and Seattle, Calgary and Vancouver in Canada, and Brisbane in Australia. It just makes more sense than any other system,” he said.
Single-head parking meters are commonplace in most U.S. cities, despite being remarkably inefficient and costly to operate, Oliver said.
“When you crunch the numbers, it’s astonishing that so many municipalities and others have persisted with single-head parking meters, when PBP offers so many obvious costs savings and efficiencies,” he said.
“For a start-off, PBP multiple-space terminals are cheaper to run than single-head meters, delivering at least 37% lower OPEX [operating expense] costs. ... How is this achieved? Mostly by serving the same number of carparks using a drastically reduced number of machines,” he said.
“Say you have a 250-space facility. For that you would need 250 single-head meters – but you could replace those with just 21 PBP terminals, because each terminal serves up to 12 parking spaces.
“The reason? The customer doesn’t have to return to their vehicle to place a ticket on their dashboard. This saves a lot of walking back and forth,” Oliver said, “and means you can install fewer machines.”
The same rule applies when you compare the costs of PBP with pay-and-display (P&D) parking terminals. Because with PBP customers don’t need to place a P&D ticket on their dashboard, operators can install fewer PBP terminals, “leading to immediate CAPEX (capital expenditure) savings and ongoing OPEX savings on consumables and other potential costs, including managing tariffs.”
However, Oliver suggested, parking operators looking to move toward multi-space meters should possibly consider adopting Metro P&D terminals initially, and use them as a “bridging technology” to introduce Metro PBP terminals over time. He said those P&D terminals can easily be modified in the field by adding a different keypad and firmware to become PBP terminals at low cost.
“Overall, PBP enables you to make massive savings on your operating costs simply because you’re servicing a fraction of the number of machines, particularly in comparison with single-head meters,” Oliver said.
“The costs of cash collection, cleaning and maintenance, data communication, payment gateway costs for credit card transactions, back-office, and software licensing are all significantly reduced,” he said.
Enforcement is improved with PBP terminals, Oliver also noted, because each vehicle is immediately logged into the system using an existing unique identifier: its license plate. Enforcement vehicles equipped with license plate recognition (LPR) technology can periodically scan the plates of parked cars, determine if the owner of each plate has paid for parking, and issue a citation on the spot if necessary.
“Metro PBP terminals are fully integrated with back-office systems in real-time,” he explained, “so that the images captured by LPR vehicles can be instantly matched with the most up-to-date parking information.
“The Metro PBP system guarantees enforcement consistency across a variety of different payment methods – including payments via mobile phone – because all transactions include the vehicle license plate as the unique identifier,” he added. “It’s fool-proof and much simpler to operate than comparable systems, and also facilitates customer-friendly services such as the ability to ‘top-up’ your parking remotely via mobile.”
Pay-by-space (PBS) systems – where vehicle owners key in the unique identifier of their parking space, rather than their car’s license plate – can provide some similar benefits to PBP, he noted, but are often less effective in winter-climate areas. Snow and ice can obscure parking space identifiers and parking sensors, potentially making the user experience less positive and enforcement more difficult.
“With PBS systems,” Oliver said, “you’re also obliged to clearly mark all parking spaces and give each one a unique identifier. Plus, you have to ensure each space is big enough to accommodate large vans and SUVs. So you often get the crazy situation of a single compact car parked in a massive space,” he said.
“PBP removes all that cost and waste because you don’t need to mark out formal parking spaces. In fact, studies have shown that PBP systems can enable you to utilize up to 20% more of the space available for parking. That’s 20% more vehicles able to park in the same area – and potentially 20% more revenue.”
“PBP not only drives convenience and efficiency from an end-user perspective,” Oliver said, “but also means greater compliance, easier enforcement, and much lower ongoing costs than any other parking system.
“The time to adopt PBP is now,” he said. “The technology has matured and the benefits are so huge and obvious that it really should be a no-brainer.”
Dion Knill is Global Sales & Marketing Manager, Global Parking Solutions U.S.A., for Integrated Technology Solutions. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.