If you’ve ever searched all around for floppy disks for your Commodore 3000, you have some idea of what Mark Quealy is dealing with. Quealy, Mt. Lebanon’s parking enforcement supervisor, has been trying to utilize some parking software going that goes back more than 20 years. Most of the North Garage equipment is original from its 1994 construction. The South Garage has seen piecemeal upgrades over its 51-year history. The fee computers are outdated with support no longer available.
Since 2013, Mt. Lebanon has made a substantial investment in the infrastructure of the parking garages. The next step in the process is upgrading fee computers, access controls and gates, and giving customers more choices of how to pay. The municipality is working with HUB Parking Technology to make the upgrades, which will cost $159,490.
Already in place is a new cashless self-service pay station in the garages that accepts credit cards. Also, garage permit holders can now pay their monthly fees through MyLebo. Auto-renewal and auto-pay options are also available.
The automated system also will net a lot of data that can be made available to the commission, allowing them to track peak usage hours and thus adjust pricing structure to reflect the data.
Plans are in place to make the same convenience available for surface lot permits, and to integrate the data with the Streetline Parker app, which Mt. Lebanon used on a trial basis last year.
“We’ll have more accurate garage counts and will fully encompass all Washington Road parking availability, says Andrew McCreery, Mt. Lebanon’s finance director.
McCreery says the next wave of parking technology will rely heavily on license plate recognition. The City of Pittsburgh already has a license-plate recognition system in place.
“The industry is going that way,” says McCreery. “Enforcement, collection— it’s all going to be license plate based.”
If you buy an hour’s worth of parking using license plate recognition, and you’ve run your errand in 20 minutes, you still have 40 minutes of parking you can use somewhere else in the system. This is more efficient that the meter system, where you leave time on the meter and someone else can slide in behind you and take it.
Right now, Mt. Lebanon’s parking operation is too small to justify the investment necessary to upgrade all functions to a license plate recognition system, but McCreery foresees a time when that will be the only technology that is available.
“This is an exciting time for parking.”