A Comparison of Costs
In a recent post, we explored the pros and cons of gated versus metered systems, with a focus on costs and revenues. We wrote about how these parking systems compare when it comes to capital costs, maintenance and more, and also how the revenue capture differs.
This post zeros in on the issue of staffing a metered or a gated parking system.
Parking staff represent the most significant ongoing cost for any parking operation. Many parking operators are interested in reducing staff levels, but it’s important to understand how different parking systems facilitate or limit automation.
Staffing Requirements for Gated Parking Systems
A gated parking system is more complex, and traditionally, gated lots have required a constant staff presence. Today, functions typically performed by cashiers - issuing tickets and processing payments - can be fully automated.
That doesn't mean that gated parking facilities run with no human intervention. There are still instances where a parking customer needs assistance. They may have lost or damaged their ticket, or the customer may have an issue with the fee, the parking machines or gates.
In a gated lot or garage, assistance can be provided remotely through video monitoring and telecoms. Instead of having on-site attendants dedicated to a single site, one parking attendant can monitor and provide support to multiple parking lots from a remote parking admin office.
What about technicians for maintenance?
Staff are needed to periodically collect cash payments from the parking payment machines, replace paper in printers and perform other routine tasks. But compared to the cost of staffing a gated parking system with on-site cashiers and attendants, these maintenance costs are negligible.
From a management perspective, a gated system can require more complex administration than a simple metered system. There are more options for payment schedules, validations and monthly parking arrangements than in a metered parking system. These variable rates require some oversight, but can be effectively managed with high-performing parking management software, like EASE.
Staffing Requirements for Metered Parking Systems
Meters have the advantage of being self-serve when it comes to ticketing and payment. Because there are no gates, meter customers are also less likely to encounter issues and require on-site assistance.
Like gated pay-on-foot systems, meters do require staff to collect cash payments from machines periodically, and technicians to maintain the equipment. This labor is, however, not the most significant staffing cost.
If you haven’t read our mega-post on Gated vs. Metered Parking Systems, we’re spoiling the big reveal here. The surprising fact is that over the life of the equipment, meters can be more expensive than gated systems. And it all comes down to enforcement costs.
A significant enforcement presence is essential to a metered parking system. Without enforcement, parking payment non-compliance would take a serious bite out of revenues. Even in areas with compliance rates deemed “high”, and with vigilant enforcement, a significant percent of motorists will not pay their full meter fee.
Today, new enforcement technologies are making enforcement more efficient. Hand-held and vehicle-mounted License Plate Recognition (LPR) technologies help agents scan plates and check for corresponding payments more quickly. In some cases, enforcement officers don’t even need to physically cite vehicles. Instead, photographic image of license plates are sent back to a central processing area, and tickets for confirmed violations can be issued by mail.
Even with these advancements, meter enforcement is a relatively staff-intensive process. Whenever parking fees are in effect at meters, enforcement officers must be present.
Staffing of Metered Parking Systems in Garages: An Exception to the Rule
There is a hybrid parking system that presents an exception. Most parking garages are gated, and most meters are found on street parking. That said, it is possible to use meters in an ungated parking garage and yes, save on staffing costs.
Stationary LPR technology at the entrances and exits to a parking garage can capture infractions automatically, without enforcement staff on site. This LPR system would work in combination with pay-by-plate meters in the garage. As mentioned above, the LPR technology can capture potential violations and after the cases are reviewed centrally, fines can be issued by mail.
At present, this automatic enforcement only works in a garage setting, where traffic necessarily flows through single points of entry and exit.
Why would anyone choose meters in a parking garage? As noted in our longer post, the upfront capital cost of installing meters is lower, as are the warranty and maintenance costs. Some parking garage owners also like the fact that using meters allows for faster flow-through of traffic.
The best of both worlds? Almost. Even LPR technology cannot capture 100% of parking fees, and in that sense doesn’t yet compare with a gated parking system’s secure revenue collection.
Adding Up the Staffing Costs of Parking Systems
If you’ve read our outline of the costs and revenues of metered and gated parking systems, you’ll know that both can yield a very high ROI.
Still, it’s important for anyone considering a metered parking system to be aware that enforcement staffing costs drive up the long-run operational costs. Salaries and benefits far outweigh other ongoing operational costs.
New technologies are introducing automation to metered parking enforcement. In the future, we may find that even on-street meter parking enforcement can be further automated, lowering staff costs and bringing revenue collection closer to that of gated parking systems.
Talk to Parking BOXX About Metered and Gated Parking Systems
Considering a new parking system? Parking BOXX gated and metered parking systems are top quality. Our customers often say that Parking BOXX equipment ‘just works’, which means less time spent by technicians on maintenance.
Plus, our “Best Price Guarantee” policy means that if you can find an equivalent total parking system at a lower price, we’ll beat our competitor’s pricing by 5%.
Call us at 800-518-1230 or request a demo at https://parkingboxx.com/request-a-demo/