Here’s my experience recently with a “ticketless” parking system in downtown Dallas: I pull into the entry lane and am greeted by an attendant who asks who I am there to see, what floor the meeting is on, my name and phone number. He takes down that info & then asks me to input my phone number in the entry terminal. Prior to leaving, I pay using my credit card in the elevator lobby, again inputting my phone number at which point I see that it is tied to my license plate number meaning that must have been captured at entry. At the exit, the license plate recognition (LPR) camera incorrectly reads my plate number, so I again have to input my phone number which is approved, allowing the gate to open. The circled “1” below should be an “A.” In a well-lit garage, how low quality must that LPR camera be to get a “1” from an “A?
When exiting another garage in Dallas where the same system is installed in such a way that phone numbers have to be entered at the exit, I could not believe it took nearly 5 minutes for the 4 vehicles in front of me to exit. Such slow traffic flow.
How exactly is this better or more practical than a ticketed system? First off, entering a phone number is much slower than simply pressing a button to pull a ticket. If LPR cameras are installed and properly integrated to ensure an accurate read, they can still capture plate number and tie it to the ticket in case a ticket is lost. At a pay-on-foot machine, it is again much faster to enter a ticket at a machine than to input a phone number. And, if a ticket is validated using online validation, an offline validation encoder, or by paying at the pay-on-foot, a successful license plate read should result in a “frictionless” exit for the parker. It’s a simpler, more efficient execution of the process and “flow” that I’m sure the property owner thought they were getting when they purchased this subpar system.
Some of these “ticketless” systems may be less expensive than traditional ticket systems, & they may offer a different experience, but that different experience doesn’t necessarily mean it is a BETTER experience. Don’t get me wrong; I am 100% in favor of touchless, ticketless, gateless, effortless parking revenue control systems, but those systems should enhance the customer experience, not make it more involved or frustrating.