Nestled in the Sonoran Desert against the Santa Catalina mountains, Tucson attracts a variety of outdoor enthusiasts and is home to the University of Arizona as well as a busy commercial district.
With university students and downtown district employees using free on-street parking in an adjacent retail and entertainment district that would have been ideal for customers, the city wanted to establish managed parking in that district as part of the overhaul of its parking system. Furthermore, it wanted to offer a modern system with multiple, and more importantly convenient, ways to pay for parking in that area and throughout the city center. In addition to implementing new parking rules to encourage customer parking and higher turnover, city leaders knew they needed a new parking payment solution that would appeal to a young and tech savvy generation.
To modernize its parking system, Tucson sought a solution that allowed parkers to pay for parking any way they may want to– with cash, credit, or via their mobile phones. The city looked for a partner that had a good track record, stability, and the ability for continuous innovation over time. Tucson leaders also wanted a white label solution to align with a city rebrand.
With its new “smart” solution, Tucson has increased parking revenue per transaction significantly. The move to a digital solution has also enhanced the city’s reputation as a modern government that is responsive to its constituents.
The move to digital
Passport, in partnership with IPS, met the city of Tucson’s criteria of offering a white label solution, stability, and the ability to innovate over time. It was also necessary to meet the timeline of the IPS smart meter installation, and Passport was able to not only meet that expectation, but also beat it. According to Donovan Durband, Administrator of Park Tucson, “It was actually fun working on it. Everyone is really good to work with. The graphic design and product teams made the process very easy. And they worked really fast.”
Spreading the word
To launch the new parking solution, Tucson created a media release to gain local media attention– leading to media placements such as TV interviews. Signage was installed and decals were placed on the meters to encourage mobile payments. Local merchants were also informed of the change, and they spread the word to their customers.
Powerful back end
Passport’s back end system gives Tucson more transparency into its parking operation. The Tucson parking staff uses Passport’s back end system to verify parking payments and to calculate utilization.
Tucson is testing mobile-only off-street parking in a handful of small lots for evening and weekend public parking, where it may not make sense to invest in a costlier implementation. Utilization in these lots is improving as more and more people are becoming accustomed to downloading the app to pay. The city also launched in-app citation payments to make it easier for parking violators to pay tickets, and is implementing a digital permit solution this year, both powered by Passport.
The partnership between vendors and the city didn’t stop at implementation. Passport meets with Tucson on an ongoing basis to ensure it meets the city’s operational needs and continues to promote the app to university students, residents and tourists. “Even though we are not one of their bigger customers, they give us time and attention,” says Donovan Durband, Administrator of Park Tucson.
Where are they now
Since the launch of GoTucson Parking, the city has seen tremendous growth within the app. The number of mobile parking transactions has increased 200%+ since implementation in 2015, and parking transaction fees have increased +300% since launch. In 2019, the city added new parking signage around the city, and saw an immediate 12% increase in mobile parking revenue.