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BeverlyHills Says “YES” to Credit Cards atMeters


BY JOHN VAN HORN “T


HIS IS ONE OF THE few times I have changed a technology when people actually called unsolicited to


tell us how much they liked it.” So said Chad Lynn, Director of Parking Opera- tions for the city of Beverly Hills, CA. He was speaking of the conversion of his on- street parking meters to those that accept credit cards.


“It adds a feature people are familiar with,”


Lynn said. “We have multispace meters and like them– they are in our off-street locations – but there is a learning curve with them. Single-space meters are more familiar. From the customer side; they don’t hesitate to charge a dollar to a credit card any more. We have become used to it ordering small items online. It’s becoming routine.” Lynn spoke about deployment. “There are


issues. Online reporting can overwhelm the repair staff. The system reports every problem immediate- ly. There are more than likely no more issues with these meters than any other technology, but you know about them.A standard meter might sit for a daywithout anyone knowing that it has a stuck coin. These meters report the problem instantly, and the staff feels they need to respond.” But there is a reality in deployment of new technology, he


Chad Lynn of the City of Beverly Hills displays two types of credit cards accepted by the parking meters under his jurisdiction.


said. “The more technical, the more changes there are and the more things that can go wrong, many having nothing to do with the technology. Such as the error reporting or a decrease in cita- tion revenue. It’s something we weren’t expecting and have to adjust for it. “Cities considering


moving to this type of tech- nology should consider that there are significant fees (communications fees, etc.). However, these are probably balanced with cost savings (not having to deal with so much coin). The system is most likely cost neutral,” Lynn said. “After the first few weeks, we are seeing that 18% of our


meter transactions are by credit card. In our off-street locations that have had credit card acceptance for some time, we have a 48%usage, amounting to 57%of the revenue.” This revenue difference is due to what the credit card com-


14 FEBRUARY 2010 • PARKING TODAY • www.parkingtoday.com


This revenue difference is due to what the credit card companies call an “incremental increase in spending.”


panies call an “incremental increase in spending.” If someone goes into Starbucks and orders a coffee, they might order a grande if they are paying cash; however, if they are using a credit card, they might upgrade to a venti. It’s the same with parking. Pay with cash, you may put in just the amount you think you need. Pay with a credit card, you may “top up” all the way to the max to ensure you don’t get a ticket. There are consequences


from a policy perspective, Lynn


noted. “These


machines may mean better compliance. People have credit cards and pay where they may not have the requi- site number of quarters, par- ticularly as the rates increase.


However, this doesmean a decrease in citation revenue. From a technical aspect, Don McCall, the city’s Parking


OperationsManager, commented on the rollout. “We tested the meters two years prior to commitment,” he said. “We did rain and condensation tests, plus, (we) put them Continued on Page 16


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