Did you know the City of Vancouver is swapping out old parking meters and installing a new system at a cost of 14 million dollars? As reported in this article by CBC News the city is getting rid of stand alone parking meters which served two parking spaces and going for new parking stations on the street which will serve entire blocks.
This type of parking and paying in one pay station is already pretty standard in Europe and in South America. In fact in Chile some commercial areas in cities had parking wardens with the parking stations. Twenty years ago you parked your car on the street and left your stick shift car in neutral, you paid at the parking station, and the parking warden pushed and bumped the vehicles together to squeeze one more in, or take one vehicle out.
Vancouver has about 11,000 parking spaces served by meters that will be decommissioned in favour of the pay stations. That will also alleviate the vandalism, and theft from coin meters. In Vancouver parking is a big revenue item for the City, bringing in about 60 million dollars a year pre-pandemic.
Of course there are some downsides in paying at street parking stations. The City will be able to monitor them and you could be paying a premium for event parking on the street with the use of demand pricing. There will also be no more lucky finds of arriving at a parking meter with already paid-for time.
In this interview with CBC’s Stephen Quinn on The Early Edition ,Vancouver Transportation Director Paul Storer (one of the most thoughtful engineers and well versed to discuss sparky issues) talk about the changes that will be occurring with the new pay station system.
Mr. Storer does mention that 75 percent of meters are already paid through the City’s parking app, which is a very high percentage for a North American city. That also begs the question~if so many vehicle parkers are already using a phone to pay, could Vancouver skip this 14 million dollar pay station investment and instead go straight to a system that is less street clutter and more revenue like the one used in the City of Westminster, in the heart of London Great Britain.
The City of Westminster also has 11,000 parking spaces but since 2009 drivers pay for a parking space by phone, text or an app. Parking meters and station machines were stripped from streets, and drivers quickly adapted, with 90 percent of parking payments being processed by phone.
Scratch cards were available to be purchased for drivers that wanted to use cash.
And the municipality made a lot of revenue.
In the first year over one-third of the meters were removed in place of signage for the new system. Six million pounds (10.6 million dollars Canadian) was saved the first year with no meter theft; 1.5 million pounds (2.6 million Canadian dollars ) are annually saved in lower maintenance costs and coin collecting.
In terms of customer satisfaction, a survey conducted in 2014 has 90 percent of users saying the system was convenient to use, with 86 percent of users saying it was very easy or easy to use.
And those parking meter enforcement officers that are called “Civil Enforcement Officers” in Westminster became “Marshalls”. Imagine~their work morphed from the negative parking ticket giving to the positive parking space finding using real-time data available through their system. It is a complete win~win.
As the official City of Westminster report states:
This is, in effect, a transformational technology. It changed the whole approach to parking management and enforcement. The Marshals continue to have full civil enforcement powers but their role is to help and inform drivers – realising a shift in customer behaviours – with far reaching
Even better, the technology also provided insight on parking behaviour and variability for development in the area, and informs the need or lack of need for off street parking.
Where do you think this technology was developed and trialled?
In Vancouver. The company has since relocated in Great Britain.
Here is a six year old YouTube video describing how the application was first trialled and then adopted in the City of Westminster, London.