Creating a Seamless Parking Experience with an Open Ecosystem

Using one system to create an open ecosystem for parking

Passport recently hosted a virtual panel discussion, moderated by Stephen Goldsmith, advisor to Passport and professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy, that introduced the idea of an open parking ecosystem and uncovered its many benefits. Stephen was joined by parking leaders from around the world to discuss how other cities have successfully implemented this system as well as Passport leaders to highlight Passport’s current offering. Here are some key takeaways:

One system decreases complexities

The Netherlands was the first to introduce an open parking ecosystem in 2005. “We thought if we could drive the digitalization of parking payments, we could generate the data needed to solve the riddle of parking and make the supply side more transparent,” said John van Dijk,  co-founder of the Dutch Parking Register and advisor to Passport. With this in mind, the Netherlands created one system as a single source of truth and allowed multiple providers (parking and non-parking) to have access to the parking market to compete for transactions. They introduced 22 parking providers across 100 cities, and overtime reached 75% digital utilization.

Following by example, Passport has opened its APIs to allow third-party providers to integrate parking payments into their applications, enabling cities to implement an open parking ecosystem. Passport’s Operating System helps cities connect to multiple app providers to promote more digital parking options. Cities can then push rules, rates and restrictions to those providers from one back office system, gaining more control of the streets and sidewalks they manage. “Complexity shouldn’t increase, as parking options increase,” said Luke Segars, Director of Product at Passport, “We should continue to streamline the parking process with payment options in everyday apps.” 

More payment options increases digital utilization

We seldom see mobile utilization rates as high as 75% in the US, however, many agree that an open ecosystem promotes utilization because it provides so many more payment options. For example, when the city of Atlanta, GA first introduced mobile payments, the method accounted for only 7% of parking transactions. They used marketing efforts to promote the mobile option, but didn’t see a major increase in utilization until they moved to pay-by plate spaces in 2017 and soon after introduced 4 additional digital payments options through an open ecosystem. “We thought to ourselves ‘one app doesn’t speak to everyone,’” said Jason Sutton of SP Plus, “and we wanted to provide a better customer experience.” In the first few months mobile transactions across the city increased as people realized they were able to pay with their preferred app vs. having to download something new.

Increasing utilization becomes especially important in the wake of COVID-19. In April alone, Atlanta saw a 300% increase in mobile transactions which proves people are becoming more comfortable with contactless payments. As cities push their residents and visitors alike to use contactless forms of payment to pay for parking, convenience and multiple options will continue to drive their willingness to comply.

The higher the app usage the higher the yield

Mobile transactions generate 25%-30% more revenue than meter transactions, so generally speaking, the more people that pay for parking through an app, the more revenue you earn. People rarely go somewhere to simply park. They typically have an agenda like meeting a friend for coffee or going shopping, and often see the task of finding and paying for parking as an annoyance. Parking should be a seamless part of those plans, not a hassle, and mobile options have simplified the experience. “The ease of use of any parking app increases the willingness of a user to pay, which leads to higher revenue,” said John van Dijk. Furthermore, users typically pay the maximum amount of time, which in most cases is double, in an app for peace of mind. Users also have the option to extend their session remotely, which increases the amount they pay.

In the case of an open ecosystem, the more providers and options that parkers can choose from, the more mobile transactions you are likely to have, ultimately increasing your revenue. So, if you can give people the option to park using the navigation app that directed them to their spot, the lifestyle app they ordered food through or their preferred parking app already downloaded on their phone, they will likely be more willing to pay.

Passport is the Operating System that enables city leaders to manage vehicle interactions with streets and sidewalks. Contact us to learn more about creating an open parking ecosystem.