Thirteen garages and 150 surface lots dot the 2,200 acre University of Florida campus, home to 50,000 students and over 20,000 faculty and staff. In addition to daily parkers, thousands of visitors also make the trek to campus, including speakers, researchers, prospective students and families, and patients and visitors to the university hospital. Needless to say, the University of Florida manages a lot of traffic on its campus, made evident by not only the number of cars on campus, but by long lines at pay stations in garages, causing students and staff members anxiety over being late to class or a meeting.
In order to provide a fast and convenient payment option for its students, faculty, staff and visitors, the University of Florida sought a mobile solution that could be easily added to campus garages and surface lots.
“We now live in an environment where everyone has a computer in their pocket. More and more, we have reason to conduct business with that device, and if you don’t bring that option to people, they’ll look for it somewhere else.” -Scott Fox, Director of Transportation and Parking Services, University of Florida
The University of Florida has a convenient and flexible payment solution that appeals to daily parkers like students, faculty and staff. Originally piloted in a single garage location, mobile payments has expanded to many locations across campus and has even helped the university balance utilization of its world class Rec Center.
Establishing a true partnership
The University of Florida has found a strong partner in Passport. It was also important for the university to engage with an established and stable business. “Like in any business, it’s important to feel comfortable and to engage with partners you trust,” says Scott Fox, Director Transportation and Parking Services at the University of Florida.
Launching a new option
Fox describes the implementation process as “fantastically easy.” To introduce the new app to parkers in its Welcome Center garage, the university hung posters on 50 columns throughout the garage to drive awareness of the app. Staff also stood at pay stations to tell people about the app payment option at the first week of launch. “The personal touch really made a difference, and once people try it, they love it,” says Fox.
Increasing mobile utilization = Decreasing cash handling
The revenue control staff especially likes the Passport system– there is less cash to collect and be accountable for. The Passport back end system also allows the university to easily pull transaction reports and quickly issue refunds.
Managing campus traffic with parking validation
A flexible payment solution and the power of pricing can impact parker behavior, as evidenced by afternoon traffic to the University of Florida Rec Center. The lot nearest to the Rec Center was both permit-based and paid until 3:30 p.m. each day, after which parking was not regulated. Subsequently, the Rec Center was underutilized in the early part of the day and overutilized after 3:30 p.m. To encourage use of the Rec Center all day, the Transportation and Parking Services Department partnered with the university’s student government to subsidize parking in the Rec Center lot. Students looking to work out could simply enter a validation code into the app for subsidized parking, alleviating congestion outside (and inside) of the Rec Center.
Gone are the days of long lines at payment machines, and mobile payment use continues to be on the rise. “It’s cool to see that students don’t even walk to the pay station anymore. They can just get out of their cars and head to class,” says Fox.
“In the parking business, people don’t seek you out to tell you how happy they are. No one ever calls or writes to tell you about their positive parking experience. So you gauge positive reaction by use and preference to other methods. We have seen a reduction in lines at pay stations and in negative feedback like payment problems or receiving a parking ticket while standing in line to pay.” – Scott Fox, Director of Transportation and Parking, University of Florida