As Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university, Memorial has a special obligation to the people of this province. In 2017 the university’s total enrolment numbered 18,204 students, including approximately 13,500 undergraduates and 3,800 graduate students. That’s significant growth since 1925 and the first class of 55 students. Every day Memorial is striving to be more open by engaging with the community — local, national and international — and seeking opportunities to learn, collaborate and grow.
Memorial University faced three primary challenges within their parking operation:
- Parking congestion
- Cost to repair and replace hardware due to increased vandalism and environmental damage
- High deferred maintenance costs across campus
Only 3,000 parking spaces are available to support the high influx of traffic from 18,000 faculty, students, staff, and general campus visitors, meaning demand significantly outpaces supply. Additionally, permit parking rates are subsidized on campus, meaning operational costs are much higher than parking revenues. Finally, as campus infrastructure, like coin-only parking meters, age, and maintenance costs have been deferred, the university has sought innovative, campus-wide solutions for parking management.
Memorial University has implemented a digital mobile parking payments system providing a cost-effective, convenient way for students and visitors to pay for parking. It also provides unprecedented analytics to assist Memorial in managing its parking operation. Because of the program’s success, the university is moving toward mobile-only payments across most of the campus.
“Passport jumped out because we don’t have the funding to replace meters that have been broken from vandalism or use. It’s great for us to provide pay-perparking without the capital investment required for full meter repair,” said Mary Beth Delaney, Manager of Strategic Planning and Operations for the Office of the Chief Risk Officer, Memorial. “This is incredibly important as the university continues to manage deferred maintenance costs.”
Convenient Way to Pay
When searching for a mobile parking payment vendor, Memorial University sought a partner that is reliable, has a customer-friendly interface, provides an app that is easy to use as well as different payment options like Interactive Voice Response technology (IVR), and finally that meets digital infrastructure and PCI compliance requirements, all of which were met by Passport. While the primary users of the app are daily student parkers, visitors have had success using the app as well. Visitors and students appreciate the opportunity to extend sessions from anywhere on campus. Cash-based students can also visit the parking office to load funding onto a digital wallet, which works well for many commuting students without a credit option.
Unprecedented Data and Analytics
Memorial University’s parking staff are now able to assess which parking zones are being used through Passport’s parking monitor reports, and have an unparalleled analytical capability, to assist in making informed decisions and plans, which have increased app utilization rates.
Marketing and Communication
Memorial University invested in additional signage to encourage students and visitors to use the app instead of the coin meters. Validation promotion codes were issued in new student orientation bags, and general app information pamphlets were distributed to cars parked on campus that weren’t using the application. Memorial University also used its social media channels and student newsletters to promote the app. Ongoing communication with students each semester encourages use of the app and promotes it to new students, with a focused communications blitz in September each year.
Moving to Mobile-Only
Memorial University has experimented with moving toward a mobile-only solution with resounding success, which allows the university to avoid expensive hardware maintenance and repair.
For other universities or municipalities looking to add mobile only zones, Mary Beth Delaney recommends launching with the recommended amount of signage to encourage app use over other methods like coin meters, as the university saw a significant increase in utilization after implementing more signs. Delaney also recommends doing a slow rollout and keeping alternate forms of payment available to give users a period of time to adjust to the new technology. Memorial plans to maintain a small number pay per use devices (pay by plate style), where one unit will serve hundreds of spaces and offer coin payment. This will ensure all customer needs are accommodated. Ultimately, Memorial University is on track to meet its goal of 90% app utilization across most of the campus.