State College

On Centre: Centre Region | Parking changes improve bottom line in State College

New parking technology implemented months ago by State College is already paying dividends.

The borough has collected more in the last six months with new kiosks in municipal lots than it did in all of 2012, and streamlined technology has led to almost twice as many tickets being paid online, Parking Manager Charles DeBow said this week.

“We’re happy with what we’ve seen,” DeBow said during a borough Transportation Commission meeting Tuesday.

New kiosks were stationed in spring 2013 in borough parking lots to replace individual meters. Visitors can pay with cash or credit card at the kiosks, or use a mobile application and pay a 35-cent convenience fee. The app and kiosks allow people to receive text messages when their time is about to expire and add more time if they wish.

“In lots where we replaced meters, we’ve seen revenue increase over 35 percent,” DeBow said.

In 2012, the borough collected $95,000 in those lots. In the six months since the new system went online, they have produced $130,000.

“What we’ve actually seen is these lots have become busier,” he said. “The people who like that you can pay with a credit card are going there instead of the street. There is a redistribution of where people park. Some people don’t like the hassle of not being able to put a quarter in, but they have moved to the street.”

DeBow said the Beaver lot is the busiest he has seen it.

And more people than expected are using the mobile app to pay. There have been more than 17,000 transactions using the technology, which DeBow said is “fairly significant.”

Those who get parking tickets are using the borough’s revamped website more. DeBow said officials made it easier to pay tickets online, and eliminated a third party that charged an extra fee.

In the last six months, the borough has collected $260,000 in parking fines online, nearly double the pace from 2012, when $225,000 was collected all year through the website.

“It was fairly difficult under the old system,” DeBow said. “Now it’s fairly fluid.”

The borough has also seen a boost in the collection of unpaid fees due to upgrades that put cameras on parking enforcement vehicles. The cameras are capable of identifying license plates linked to multiple delinquent tickets.

DeBow said officials have seen about a 50-percent increase in collecting delinquent tickets since the technology has been implemented.

“I’m happy to see we are making some money, and not off the traditional way of raising rates,” he said. “We are collecting more money because people are attracted to the lots, and we’re catching people who are being delinquent.

“Probably for the first time, we’ve getting positive feedback,” DeBow said. “Normally, I don’t get much positive feedback. The only calls I ever got were complaints. But I have got calls from users and business owners who say they like these changes.”