The City of Madison's Parking Utility is testing new technology to prevent drivers from paying for multi-space meters after hours with a goal of rolling it out by the end of September.
Currently, 4.06 percent or roughly one in every 25 parking transactions at the off-street meters, are conducted outside of the required 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. hours. Since January, drivers have spent, on average, $5,436.59 per month, after hours. Over the course of the year, that would mean a revenue drop to the city and a revenue gain to consumers of $65,232.
"Our goal for the parking utility is to provide exceptional customer service," said Thomas Woznick, Madison's parking operations manager. "We want to enhance people's ability to come downtown. We want them to come downtown. We want to make parking easy to use and simple to understand."
Woznick said after he took his position in April, 2012, he discussed with his staff the public perception of his department. He learned one of the biggest complaints was from consumers who were frustrated with paying outside of the normal hours.
The Parking Utility worked with the multi-space vendor to obtain the technology needed to prevent those transactions from happening in the future.
"We don't want people to pay for service they don't have to pay for," said Traffic Engineer Bill Putnam. "A lot of people may not read the signs or they don't understand what they're required to do or they might have erred on the safe side and said, 'I'll pay just in case.' This (new technology) is another way to give them a heads up. Hey, it's after six o'clock, you don't have to pay, here's your money back."
Outside of the hours drivers are required to pay, the machines will not accept coins or credit cards and the screen will read, "Cancelled. See signage." When the testing is complete, it will take a week to insert the technology into all of the city's 90 multi-space meter machines.
"It's really with this technology now that we're able to provide this level of customer service," Putnam said.
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