Eliminate the Hassles Downtown
by David Stanowski
01 January 2008
This article originally appeared in the Galveston County Daily News on 01 January 2008. The text version of the article appears below.
Many people hate the downtown parking meters, which makes it a distasteful experience for them to visit our most vital commercial area. Since retail sales, in the City, are already below par, it doesn't help the situation if potential customers have a built in bias against downtown Galveston! The obvious solution seemed to be to get rid of the parking meters, but it is now clear that removing them isn't the answer.
Many downtown areas are finding that if street parking is free, the people who work and live in the area use so many parking spaces that they displace potential customers. For this reason, it does seem to be necessary to charge for street parking to price these people out of most of the available parking spaces. Some potential customers will always be lost, because of paid parking, but the real problem is the inconvenience of the present system.
Currently, an anticipated trip downtown requires a search for a sufficient number of coins, and then either an accurate estimate of the length of the stay, overpaying for the time used, or repeated trips back to the meter to add money.
A company called Photo Violation Technologies has solved all of these problems with their new parking meters! They use sensors to register when a car enters and when it leaves a parking space, and their cameras record violators, and AUTOMATICALLY issue a ticket!
These meters accept payment by coin, credit card, debit card, pre-paid cards, and phone. This eliminates the need to stock pile coins for a trip downtown.
The driver can pay for set periods of time, or can choose the No-Fine option, which allows him to be billed just for the time used. If the driver selects a set period of time, and is a little late getting back to the parking meter, he has the option to pay for the overage, without getting a ticket. If the driver does receive a ticket, he can pay it at the meter, at a discounted rate, but if he drives away without paying, the camera takes a picture of his license plate, and a ticket is mailed to him, and he must pay the standard fine.
This system not only solves all of the inconveniences with the current downtown parking system, it increases parking revenue dramatically. Collection is achieved for all the time used, and ALL violators receive tickets!
The only potential objection to installing this new system, in downtown Galveston, might be its cost. PVT believes that buyers can recoup their total investment in about six months, but they will also lease the meters, or install them using a revenue sharing arrangement. After installation, the customer can run the system themselves, or hire PVT to do that for them.
Ideally, the downtown merchants could contract for the PVT system, rather than the City of Galveston, and retain the parking fees for their use in maintaining and promoting their shopping district!
Also see Downtown Parking Meters: a Solution
For more information on the Galveston Economy: CLICK HERE
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