Over the past 30 years, off-street parking enforcement technology has remained unchanged. Surface lots have relied on outdated pay-on-foot stations and money boxes, while parking garages have used gated paper ticket access and revenue control solutions. However, recent advancements in digital solutions have revolutionized the parking industry, offering a range of benefits such as an enhanced customer experience, increased revenue, and decreased costs. In this blog, we will explore the factors to consider when implementing gateless parking systems and help you answer the question, "to gate or not to gate?"
Gateless parking is a growing trend, and there are numerous positive aspects to it. Many owners are attracted to gateless parking solutions due to the potential cost savings and ease of access. With no physical gates, barriers, or ticketing machines, expenses associated with their maintenance and operation are significantly reduced. Furthermore, gateless parking systems offer an enhanced customer experience as parkers no longer need to stop at entry or exit points. Most solutions allow payments to be made conveniently through mobile devices, eliminating the need for physical payment machines.
While gateless parking offers many benefits, there are also potential challenges if implemented incorrectly. Some of these problems include customers leaving without paying, unauthorized individuals parking in spaces reserved for tenants and customers, and increased reliance on technology.
The only way to mitigate the risk of high rates of slippage (which can reach 30-40%) is through constant enforcement. This involves frequent verification of license plates and regular issuance of tickets, boots, and towing. Establishing a strict culture around parking enforcement is crucial so that parkers understand the consequences of trying to cheat the system.
There are three different enforcement solutions for gateless parking:
On-foot enforcement: In this case, a parking assistant uses a handheld app to scan each license plate, ensuring 100% accuracy and issuing tickets before drivers leave. While this procedure is highly effective in eliminating slippage, it can significantly increase payroll expenses.
Fixed License Plate Recognition (LPR): Fixed LPR involves scanning license plates using cameras as cars enter and exit a parking facility. Drivers typically register a mobile payment option to their license plate by scanning a QR code at the location. When properly set up, this method allows seamless entry and exit for repeat visitors who are automatically charged for future visits. However, accuracy can be an issue, especially in outdoor environments. Additionally, the time to address violators is shorter, and the likelihood of receiving fines decreases significantly once they leave the facility. Furthermore, most states do not permit parking asset owners to put insurance points on a driver's license for unpaid parking tickets, so the only penalty for not paying is the risk of being towed during future visits.
Mobile LPR: Mobile LPR involves an enforcement vehicle equipped with LPR cameras driving through a parking facility and scanning plates. While this option offers high accuracy and benefits from technology automation, it still requires expensive human labor and capital expenses for purchasing the vehicle(s). Therefore, it is more suitable for larger parking facilities like venues or multiple facilities located close together, where the cost of enforcement personnel and equipment can be justified.
As the parking industry evolves, commercial real estate owners must carefully assess the advantages and disadvantages of gateless parking solutions to make informed decisions about their parking facilities. While gateless systems offer benefits, they are not without their flaws and may not be suitable for every location. Additionally, there are significant legal risks associated with building a culture of strict enforcement, as booting or towing can lead to lawsuits. Parking operators face a challenging position in deciding how strict they should be, considering potential emergencies that could occur.
Ultimately, implementing a gateless system means relying on a parking operator to act as an accounts payable company. As an owner, it's essential to understand the economic tradeoffs involved. Gateless will be a good solution in the following occasions: when your architecture doesn’t allow for gates, in a high throughput event parking. Specifically for the office vertical, in a location where monthly parking volume is high and transient parking is low, gateless can also be a good option because the risk of the garage being abused is low. The operator will take a cut from parking violation payments, and there may be a significant delay in receiving those funds. Owners must carefully consider whether they want their operator to focus more on collections or on providing a seamless parking experience.
With careful planning, consideration, and research, you can choose the best solution to upgrade your parking asset. Vend Park's Technology Driven Parking Management Solution offers a "touchless" experience for gated systems, leveraging mobile payments and license plate recognition technology. This means you can enjoy all the customer experience benefits of gateless parking without the enforcement headaches. It's a win-win for you and your customers.
To learn more about Vend Park for your parking location, schedule a demo.