Kiosk Puts The Brakes On Lost Parking Revenues
Solar-powered kiosks help the Canadian city of White Rock capitalize on its beachfront parking.
Have you ever driven around a parking lot hoping to find a meter with 'time' on it? Chances are, it wasn't because you're cheap. More likely, you didn't have correct change for the parking meter (and debit and credit cards don't fit in the coin slot). So what did you do? Maybe you drove around some more searching for free parking. Or, like many people, you parked without paying and risked a ticket.
The city of White Rock, British Columbia is very familiar with this scenario. Located just over the border from Blaine, WA, the seaside community of 18,000 residents overlooks the Semiahmoo Bay. The city features three miles of beachfront used extensively by residents and visitors. As a result, beachfront parking is at a premium. Like most cities, White Rock relies on parking fees as part of its annual revenue.
Watching those sources of revenue drive away was frustrating to Alex Mellenger, pay parking coordinator for the city of White Rock. His department had been using a ticketing system that didn't have a date/time stamp capability. The system didn't track parking flow, such as peak parking times, or accommodate several payment options, including debit cards. Mellenger had been searching for local VARs to provide a new solution. While at an industry trade show in Seattle, Mellenger learned of Digital Pioneer, a systems integration company specializing in kiosks for the parking industry. Rick Shier is president of Digital Pioneer, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mellenger chose Digital Pioneer based on the product price and the company's commitment to a long-term working relationship.
Kiosks Meet The Needs Of A $500 Billion Industry
According to some of Shier's contacts, the worldwide parking industry is a $500 billion market, when you include parking garages and real estate. Industry sources estimate there are at least 105 million parking spaces in the United States. Digital Pioneer sold the city of White Rock seven Intella-Pay kiosks. The stainless steel kiosks feature a Seiko KBM-80 thermal receipt printer. The system uses Digital Pioneer's own proprietary firmware, Windows-based software, and Palm Pilot-based software. Shier indicates that the Intella-Pay kiosk can produce up to $40,000 in revenue every sixty days. A $10,000 kiosk can potentially pay for itself in less than one month. According to Shier, his customers report average revenue increases of 15% to 30% after the kiosks are installed.
Digital Pioneer uses the KBM-80 thermal printer in part because it's specifically designed for kiosk use. The printer holds paper rolls that accommodate 3,000 tickets per roll. Digital Pioneer also supplies the paper for the kiosks. "We can easily replicate our kiosk solution using the Seiko printer," says Shier. The city of White Rock can also customize receipts. Mellenger or his staff can add logos, coupons, and messages to the receipts using the Digital Pioneer software. Mellenger can also adjust parking rates for special events, flat rates, and hourly rates.
With the pay-and-display kiosk, users simply pay for the amount of time they expect to be parked. The Intella-Pay kiosk guides users through transactions on a 20-character by four-line liquid crystal display (LCD). The system accepts bills, coins (both U.S. and Canadian), debit cards, and credit cards. Users display their receipts on their cars' dashboards (Pay & Display) or pay for a specific parking space (Pay by Space). Custom thermal paper stock is used that does not turn black when exposed to sunlight, even for long periods of time. The paper is also fade- and curl-resistant. The city of White Rock employs "bylaw enforcers" who periodically check the lots. Cars displaying expired parking receipts are ticketed. Mellenger reports that users now buy more parking time than they need, increasing parking revenues.
There are six solar-powered kiosks used near the waterfront. These kiosks feature metal bezels, including the coin and bill acceptors. One kiosk is used in an underground parking garage and runs on electricity. The kiosks weigh 170 pounds and feature a five-layer locking system to prevent theft. There is one kiosk for every 50 parking spaces.
According to Mellenger, the new system offers several benefits to the city of White Rock. Mellenger is better able to allocate staff based on historical parking information. The pay-and-display system tracks the flow of parking use and helps the city estimate annual parking revenues for budgeting purposes. Mellenger has also benefited by improved reporting capabilities. The kiosks produce printed reports showing the total amount of coins and bills deposited, the number of credit card transactions, and the number of parking tickets sold.Questions about this article? E-mail the author at LisaK@corrypub.com.