For those of you who have ever had to park in downtown Calgary, you’ll know the pain of not only finding an available parking spot, but also finding enough change to feed that insatiable meter. At $4.00 per hour, you either rode the C-Train downtown or became a modern day pirate by turning your ash tray into a treasure chest! (eye patch optional as always)
Just over one year ago the Calgary Parking Authority launched ParkPlus, the first fully integrated parking solution of its kind in the World, and yesterday morning Allan Bazar and Dale Fraser took centre stage at CCAT’s networking breakfast to share their first year results. With over 1.25 million transactions, 30% of which completed via cell phone, it is clear Calgarians are embracing the system.
On the surface parking seems simple, after all we’ve had parking meters in Calgary since 1953, but ParkPlus brings together several cutting edge technologies to create a solution that is good for Calgarians and the Calgary Parking Authority. Solar smart meters to replace the old coin operated ones, cars equipped with cameras to capture license plate information, lasers to measure the size of your vehicle, and a GPS system similar to what you might find on an airplane! I won’t get into all the details here, but you can check out Kempton’s detailed blog for a great review, or visit www.parkplus.ca to find out exactly how everything works.
When this system first came out there was some skepticism that ParkPlus was really just designed to make more money for the Parking Authority, but the facts presented yesterday have made me reconsider: 600 new parking spaces created by removing fixed meters, 5 minute buffers on parking start and end times, and the ability to pay with cash, credit card, or cell phone are great for starters. The best part though is the over $70,000 that was returned to Calgarians for time they didn’t use. You know those few minutes that were always left on the meter? …Now you actually get them back!