Danbury Parking Authority Director Answers Public Concerns Over Electronic Kiosks
I've been ranting and raving ever since the news came out that the Danbury Parking Authority has plans to install electronic kiosks at the Danbury Parking garages.
I published an article on Wednesday (9/15/21) titled: "Danbury Parking Garages to Implement Electronic Kiosks." In it, I shared the announcement that the Hat City's parking garages, Patriot and Bardo would install high tech kiosks and my concerns about what it means for Hat City residents and out of towners.
My experiences with these kiosks in other cities have been really bad. So, I shared my stories about Poughkeepsie, NY, Norwalk, CT and Boston, MA where machines were broken or I'd be unfairly ticketed. I railed against this, but I thought it was only fair to address these worries directly with the Director of the Parking Authority, Deborah Pacific. We spoke to Pacific on Wednesday afternoon via conference call. I told her I've had issues with broken machines, that I thought this was an effort to phase out employees, in favor of technology and said It looks like a "money grab."
Pacific responded to each of my concerns, we took them one at a time.
Is this a Money Grab?
Pacific: "Absolutely not. The ticket revenue part of our budget is very small in comparison. We make our money mostly on permit parking, so it's not the tickets at all."
Why make the move to digital, high-tech parking systems?
Pacific: "It's going to be very user friendly, and just help people in the long run, people don't carry change anymore. People don't carry bills anymore, they want to use their credit and their debit card."
What about tech issues or broken hardware that can become costly and frustrating for parkers? Is this the best new tech available in the industry?
Pacific: "It is new, T2 Systems is the company that we're going to be going with, their kiosks are called "Luke," and the downtime on them is very minimal but, of course anything that is mechanical is going to breakdown. If the machine is broken and you get a ticket, we're not going to make you pay that ticket. That is our problem, not yours and that's what people need to understand. If it's our fault, if it's our problem, we are going to take responsibility for that. We're not going to penalize you for our problem."
Is this a way for the city to make a cutbacks or to get out of paying attendants? Do you have individuals on site now?
Pacific: "Yes we do. First of all, I just do want to explain that the Parking Authority is a separate entity of the city, we are not city employees, we get no city funding. We've gone from having 16 employees (pre-COVID), down to having 9. We are not going to be getting rid of the ones that are here, the ones that are sitting in the booth now will just be patrolling, doing security. Job security, everything is all set, we may actually need to add some people on because we now are going to have more areas to patrol."
Wouldn't it be better if you could pay at the kiosk after. You come in, you get a ticket and at the end you put that ticket in the kiosk so the machine knows when you arrived and you only pay for the time you were there. With prepaying, there is a far greater chance of making a mistake and being penalized with a ticket, could you use tech that makes you pay at the end to avoid this?
Pacific: "We're trying to do away with the moving parts quite honestly, the more moving parts that you have, the more breakdowns that you have and that is the situation we've had at both garages (Bardo & Patriot). So, if your ticket spitter is not working, you have to raise the gate and then you can't charge people. In order to pay to leave, you have to have a ticket upon entrance, so it's so much easier to just have no gates, those arms are going to be removed, people are going to be able to drive in and park, they pay then and if they are using the app, the app is going to notify you that your time is about to expire, giving you the opportunity to add to it. So, if you're at a hockey game that went into overtime and you've only paid for two hours it's going to tell you, hey you're going to expire so add more time onto it. It's actually a benefit."
Any last words?
Pacific: "We just feel in Danbury that parking should be friendly, not free. So, when people come in and they have a problem, we work with them to figure out what the problem was."
Thanks to Deborah Pacific for taking the time to chat with us and address these concerns, it's given me a little hope that Danbury's plan and technology will put us in a better situation than other cities I mentioned. There systems are jacked up and I'm going to continue to say it over and over. If you inconvenience me or cost me money when I'm trying to comply with your rules and prices I will never shut up about it.
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