21ST Century Parking Gets A Jump on Winter in Manchester
MANCHESTER, NH, Nov. 4, 2009 – Something as simple as paying for metered parking – from inside your car – is now a reality in Manchester, just in time for winter. Yesterday without any fanfare, colorful, three-inch square stickers started showing up on parking meters and Pay & Display meters throughout the City of Manchester with a simple message, “you need never stand here again,” followed by a phone number and a familiar web address.
Today, after months of extensive though low-key testing, City of Manchester Parking Manager Brandy Stanley unveiled the Parking Division’s new, hassle-free, approach to paying for public parking – the state-of-the-art iPark 2.0 electronic parking pass™. Manchester motorists now will have their first opportunity to park and go™ using the new, in-vehicle payment devices at city-operated metered lots and on city streets.
Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta sees the iPark program as beneficial for the City and its citizens alike: “iPark allows parkers to bypass parking meters completely. It will encourage parkers to spend more time downtown because they won’t have to figure out how much time to purchase in advance – the device keeps running until the parker ends the parking session or the time limit for the space is reached. Parkers can more effectively manage their parking costs, don’t have to carry change, won’t need to walk back and forth to the Pay & Display meters and can reload parking credits 24/7. And all of these consumer benefits come at no additional cost to the city.”
With its user-friendly iPark program, the City of Manchester has joined the vanguard of progressive city governments, including Arlington, VA, Miami Beach, FL, Tampa, FL, and Portsmouth, NH which are all offering drivers the ease, convenience, and security of paying for metered parking with the push of a button – before leaving their cars. Ms. Stanley made
her case for the new program citing very real, tangible and valuable benefits: “With parking’s most challenging season fast approaching, which would you choose?
Standing in the cold searching for coins or waiting for a receipt to print; Climbing over snow banks; or Pushing a button on a handheld device from inside your car to start and stop your parking sessions.
Additionally, as soon as a driver returns to the car, he or she presses a button to end the parking session, and the device immediately calculates the exact amount due for the exact amount of time parked. So iPark members only pay for the time they’ve parked. And, if they run low on funds in their account, all an iPark member has to do is purchase additional parking credits, either online or by phone from inside their car.”
The smart, replenishable, parking device is lightweight and easily fits in the palm of your hand – it’s about the size of the popular EZ Pass® pre-paid toll transponders. And like those payment devices, the iPark 2.0 parking pass operates from within the vehicle. With the push of a button you start a parking session, affix the iPark 2.0 to the windshield with the screen facing out, and that’s it. While you’re away from your car, the screen on the iPark device displays a digital clock for Parking Control Officers to read.
The City of Manchester Parking Division is currently selling iPark charter memberships for a one-time fee of $25. The account memberships can be purchased online through the Parking Division’s home page, www.manchesternh.gov/parking, in person at the Parking Division office at 25 Vine Street or at the Ordinance Violations Bureau inside City Hall. Included in the limited-time offer is the iPark 2.0 parking pass valued at $25, $10 in complimentary parking funds pre-loaded onto the iPark device, and the assurance of never having to pay an annual membership fee (currently set at $25 dollars).
Whether charter members enroll online or in person, membership also includes unlimited online access to their own personalized and secure iPark Dashboard – their 24/7 account management center. The iPark Dashboard allows members to manage their account whenever it is convenient for them; whether that means adding parking funds to their account, adding a companion account to their charter membership or even updating personal or payment information.
Quick & Easy
Just as up-to-date, and just as simple to use as the iPark 2.0, the online iPark Dashboard includes a number of time-saving reference tools, such as a Google® map of Manchester, which highlights and provides details about the different parking zones in the City. Now members can easily do something that you wouldn’t have even thought of doing without this technology -- plot their destination and know in advance what it’s going to cost to park nearby. Other viewing “channels” on the iPark Dashboard include Parking Information and Services in and around Manchester. And another feature that will change the way you think about paying for parking is the online Quick Use Guide – unlike any other manual you’ve seen for an electronic device. It shows just how easy it is to use the device for parking as well as other important features such as adding the secure “reload” codes that make the funds accessible from the member’s account to the iPark device.
Robin Comstock, President & CEO – Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and an early supporter of the City’s new parking program, readily acknowledges “iPark is one of those technological advances that makes it easy to rethink the commonplace. The Chamber is pleased and excited to see the City rolling out this new parking technology, which will play a vital part in ensuring that consumers, businesses, and residents have a positive experience when they are out doing business, shopping, or dining in Manchester. The Chamber commends the City and Parking Division for embracing new technology and implementing this program.”
Parking Manager Stanley added, “The parking meter is morphing before our eyes from a passive mechanical machine at the curb to a interactive microchip inside an electronic parking pass, with ready access to the Internet.”
Onboard Payments Natural Next Step
Developed by ePark Systems, Inc, a US-based company and leading innovator in the emerging industry of In-Vehicle Parking Meters (IVPM), the impressive iPark electronic parking pass is positioned to be the most convenient and cost-efficient way to pay for parking. The stars are aligning for ePark Systems in its quest to transform the humble parking meter into a smart, 21st Century payment device, blazing the trail for what the company calls “onboard payments – payments made on the move™”. Setting the company’s vision is ePark Systems CEO Hans Hawrysz, a veteran of successful business launches, that have combined technology, consumer acceptance, and industry leaders.
“In the huge realm of parking payments we’re now seeing a convergence of essential factors,” Hawrysz pointed out. “First, smart city business managers have a sense of urgency about adopting best parking practices. Second, advances in communications and payment technologies have allowed us to develop practical applications. And third, not only is a critical mass of consumers very comfortable using a variety of electronic devices, today there are fewer barriers to where they can use them, even to make different types of payments. The success of EZ Pass and others has proven the viability and future promise of ‘on-board payments.’
“Today’s consumers are technology savvy,” reminded Hawrysz. “They don’t think twice about using a smart, stored-value device in their cars to make payments. In fact, they quickly grasp the idea that a next-generation, micro “parking meter” is embedded in the iPark parking pass.”
Well established in the European market with 750,000 devices in use, and adoption in the US market now accelerating, Hawrysz believes that as the relevant technologies advance, future upgrades of the iPark device and it’s online complement, the iPark Dashboard, will continue to provide added convenience and utility and become the preferred method to pay for parking, especially as parking functions become more integrated with vehicle-based computer systems.
For more on parking in Manchester, contact Brandy Stanley, City of Manchester Parking Manager at 603 624-6580 (BStanley@manchesternh.gov).