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Three Ways to Change the Game

The other day, we talked about the changing perception of parking. As a follow-up, here are a few real-world examples of customer service approaches that have helped change the perception of parking:

  • Ticket forgiveness. Rick Onstott, parking director at EasyPark in Anchorage, Alaska, allowed first time offenders to take a parking quiz that negated the offender’s ticket. During the three-month period he ran the offer, nearly 4,000 people took the survey (and all passed!). While there may not be a direct correlation to reduced citations, the perception of the parking program has reversed course and his group has built a lot of positive momentum.
  • Leveraging technology. Adam Jones, vice president of parking and operations for Downtown Tempe Community, Inc., in Tempe, Ariz., installed new on-street meter technology along the community’s major retail and activity corridor. Credit card usage debuted at 25 percent of all transactions and violations have seen a slight decline, while overall revenues have stayed consistent for the program. This validated Jones’ approach to compliance through education rather than strong-armed enforcement, encouraging patrons to properly pay for transactions rather than penalizing them with parking citations.
  • Better information. San Francisco is at the forefront of the parking technology revolution with their SFpark program. The program uses new payment technology, sensors, and smartphone applications to make the parking experience seamless. Initial reviews are encouraging and the associated press and industry buzz has created a very positive perception of the program.

These are just a few examples of areas where parking perceptions have been boosted by proactive programs. Have you tried something similar? Let us know in the comments!

About Brett Wood, CAPP, PE

Brett Wood, CAPP, PE, is a parking and transportation planner with Kimley-Horn and Associates. He serves on the IPI Advisory Council, Awards of Excellence Committee, and the Parking Matters® Committee.


  1. Jeff Bethune says:

    I agree with all the above! Leveraging technology, information and leniency is key to a successful parking program that keeps citizens & businesses happy while providing revenue to the city.

    I’d just like to add that Fredericksburg, VA was one of our first customers and wanted to roll out escalating tickets so that they wouldn’t scare off tourists. The problem was they wanted to keep their free parking but needed to encourage turn over of spaces while not scaring off tourists with hefty parking tickets. Essentially the ticket break down looks like this:
    *First ticket is a warning ($0.00)
    *2nd = $15.00
    *3rd = $25.00
    *4th = $35.00
    *5th and beyond = $45

    To accomplish this, they used our vehicle-mounted, vehicle recognition software (autoChalk) to determine over stays, while ensuring that each person got a warning first (by plate). The program has been hugely successful for the city, has kept citizens happy and they no longer receive nasty letters from tourists who used to get parking tickets.

    On every warning and ticket they give alternative areas to park for free for longer stays via a map, as well as the enforcement hours and rules.

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