New York’s Queen City is leading the charge in smart city infrastructure. It is no wonder that Buffalo is a growing destination for tourists, historians, and restorationists. Buffalo is a robust arts and cultural center chock full of vast historical and architectural points of interest. Buffalo has experienced face-paced redevelopment and restoration over few short years and continues to grow. Buffalo’s rising popularity draws numbers of residents and tourists alike, which results in its fair share of automobile traffic.
Buffalo’s pay-and-display parking machines and single-space meters were on average over 10 years old. Replacing this outdated technology was not the “smart” path that this new and revitalized Buffalo desired. Hardware and maintenance costs could be upwards of $10,000 per unit. Further, lack of digital integration with enforcement systems did not reflect the growth and innovation the city was experiencing. As smartphone usage increased, the city desired a user-friendly mobile solution to increase parking accessibility.
“We don’t have any plans to purchase anymore pay-and-display machines if we can avoid it. It doesn’t make sense to spend another $10,000 on initial costs alone, especially as app utilization increases”
– Davis Hough, Senior Special Assistant to the Parking Commissioner, Buffalo, NY
THE ACTION PLAN
The city of Buffalo took steps to implement a mobile parking solution. The city put out a bid looking for a company to support a personalized mobile payment app for parkers. They sought a technology partner with an affordable user-friendly product. They were looking for an industry leader that would provide a branded solution to keep pace with the transformation of the city. Passport not only fulfilled these needs but also stood out over the competition with its strong references from existing clients.
A Quality User Experience
The Buffalo Roam parking app was launched in June 2017. Buffalo saw increases in mobile payment utilization and a cost-effective parking payment solution for areas of both high and low traffic. Buffalo Roam is an easy way to pay for parking, which means no more feeding meters in the pouring rain or walking to a parking machine only to forget your money or plate number.
“Now when you’re at the theater, dining out at one of Buffalo’s many great restaurants, or enjoying activities along the revitalized waterfront or our award-winning parks, you don’t have drop everything to pay the meter,” said Hough.
Passport’s mobile payment system was easily integrated with Buffalo’s digital enforcement systems. This provided parking enforcement officers with a time-saving management solution. Enforcement officers now monitor parking sessions in real time with Passport’s system.
Passport supported Buffalo with customized, easy-to-install and eye-catching signage to publicize the new Buffalo Roam parking app. At first, about 20% of parkers used the app. Validation codes helped promote awareness through social media and at community meetings. Expanded signage was installed throughout the city and app utilization boosted to 50%.
The result of these initiatives has been so impressive that Buffalo has begun testing mobile-only areas in the city. With the Buffalo Roam app, the city worked with Passport to configure it to its operation, making parking around the busy NHL arena mobile-pay-only. Additionally, the Buffalo News recently recognized the Buffalo Roam App as one of the top Buffalo-themed apps on the market.
Passport’s solution has helped the city of Buffalo to quickly and efficiently gather data in real time. The city can now better understand parking trends, behaviors, and patterns. With mobile payments and Passport’s back office system, the Buffalo is on track to achieve its smart city goals.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very positive about [the app],” said Hough. As app utilization increases, the purchase and maintenance of expensive parking hardware diminishes. Passport’s solution has provided Buffalo with an affordable mobile parking option that supports a digital infrastructure and maintains the city’s innovated momentum.