Multispace parking meters are gaining popularity across the country as municipalities realize the devices’ ability to increase revenue, reduce maintenance and create more aesthetically pleasing streetscapes.
Signature Control Systems, a systems integrator company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, seeks out the best technology available and sells, installs and services these products to municipalities. In the company’s offices throughout the midwestern region, it has been working with municipalities for several years to ensure the smooth installation and maintenance of digital payment technologies designed to benefit both cities and citizens.
The meters, which accept credit and debit card payment, increase revenue for several reasons, according to Gino Ori, Signature Control System’s territory manager for municipalities. “We’ve found that when customers have multiple payment options, they are more likely to pay for parking,” he said. “When paying with a credit card, people are more likely to pay for an extra hour as a cushion. We even have features that send a person a text message when their time is up and allow them to extend their parking time by phone.
A single pay station, which covers 50-70 spots in a parking lot and an average 10 spaces on-street, also reduces the maintenance needed to collect coins from a coin meter at every parking space and reduces the likelihood that a meter will fill up and be unusable. “Another benefit is that it eliminates piggybacking, which occurs at coin meters,” says Ori. “Unlike the traditional coin meters, there is no way for a new driver to know if time is still available at that space from the previous driver.”
When installing Signature Control System’s multispace systems, a city has choices on how the meters operate. One option is for the driver to pay and then display a receipt in the car window. Another is to pay by typing in the number of your parking space, which has been popular in Southern states. The last option is to pay by license plate.
“The great thing about our system is that you can start with one option and change to another without any cost needed for a new machine,” says Ori.
John Bowsher, Signature Control System’s president and CEO, said that the challenges cities have faced when integrating these meters, such as financial and community support, can be worked out with planning and collaboration.
“When going from no-pay parking to pay-to-park, we recommend that the city start communicating with the public six to nine months before implementation and have ambassadors to educate the public on how the systems will work and how they will positively impact the community,” says Bowsher. “For example, perhaps the city decides to reinvest a portion of the money collected into redoing sidewalks.”
Financially, there are several options for cities that have budget restraints. “We are focused on customer service and can be flexible on financing the machines,” explains Bowsher. “For municipalities with no money budgeted for this, we can create a revenue-sharing agreement with the increased revenue from the meters.”
Signature Control Systems can handle everything from installation to maintenance for the city if needed. “We can provide a variety of services. We can even put a service technician on-site and grow with the city as their parking needs expand,” said Bowsher.