In 2004, a study was conducted by the Transpo Group for the City of Bellingham (Washington) Public Works to review existing parking management practices and policies. As a result of the study, a number of strategies and policies were recommended to improve and enhance the overall parking management in Downtown Bellingham. In 2005, the Bellingham City Council adopted the strategy for Bellingham parking. The parking improvements will be phased in over time.
The recommendations in the strategy report support the following three goals for Downtown Bellingham:
- Provide various parking elements to support downtown businesses
- Reduce the number of single occupancy vehicle commutes to downtown
- Improve fiscal parking operations
Approximate costs of the initial investments for parking management systems were provided in the study report and are presented below:
Railroad Avenue surface lot and adjacent street parking on Railroad Avenue
The Railroad Avenue surface lot can serve both hourly parkers and permit holders. Hourly parkers will be able to make payment at "pay and display" stations. These stations will allow hourly parkers the option of paying with 1) cash and receiving change, or 2) debit/credit card. The City will benefit from improved auditing, reduced cash handling, and reduced labor and service requirements. Two pay stations are recommended. Each station cost approximately $15,000 each. The City will need to factor in additional costs for signage and telecommunications.
The Parkade is a City of Bellingham garage facility that offers hourly and monthly permit parking. Hourly parkers will be able to make payment at a centralized pay station which will benefit the City of Bellingham by eliminating/reducing the need for a manned cash window and provide for tighter auditing. Customers will have more payment options available such as paying with cash and receiving change, and debit/credit cards. The centralized pay station can be coupled with access control to automatically control ingress/egress thus eliminating the need for an enforcement officer to continuously monitor the facility. A system such as this would cost approximately $100,000. To accommodate areas reserved for monthly permit holders, card proximity readers can also be installed to automatically regulate access. Access control systems typically costs approximately $30,000.
Parking management accounting package
A parking management software program that will support accounting for monthly permits, pay stations, ticket/fine payment and collections is envisioned for the City of Bellingham. Such a system would reduce the current labor intensive and inefficient paper system, reduce opportunities for cash mishandling, provide a tighter auditing system, and is expandable to include enforcement tracking and ticket/fine administration. The approximate cost of an internal or Web-based system ranges from $18,000 - $25,000.
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Pay and display station: $15,000 each. Centralized pay station with automated ingress/egress control: $100,000. Entrance/exit access control system: $30,000. Parking accounting software package: $18,000 to $25,000.