Over the last 10 years, the City of Ferndale’s downtown has seen significant expansion in the number of businesses located downtown, and the number of visitors patronizing them. This increase in activity has culminated in a need to significantly improve the parking capacity of the downtown in order to best meet the present, and future needs of our patrons. To address the need for expansion, the City has chosen to transition the traditional antiquated single meter system into a more efficient, secure, and customer friendly multi space meter system.
Many complaints were received daily from visitors frustrated that they could only use quarters while other communities offered opportunities for cash and credit. Multi-metering systems provided what we needed; ability to be flexible, safer money management, and most importantly customer friendly by allowing, coin, cash and credit. Other reasons for these multi-space meters include the following:
They can now print utilization reports from each lot.
The old meters were being broken into and stolen from on a regular basis.
Upgrading to the multi space meters also helps the City address the issue of coin theft from the older meter heads. The new pay station machines have been built with several security redundancies and wired alarming, making it extremely difficult for criminals to access the contents inside each pay station.
Multi Space Meter Selection
A request for proposals for the multi space meter project was made public in late 2011. The parking consultant, Traffic and Safety provided a proposal (one of four) for the project. Their proposal was far and above the closet to the RFP of all four.
The goal for the project is to provide a system that is user friendly and convenient and provided multiple forms of payment options for Ferndale patrons. During the preliminary launch, a total of 20 meters were installed throughout the downtown area. The number of stations and their associated locations were determined by parking industry standards. Only three weeks after the initial launch, activity data recorded by the pay stations ‘point of sale’ features indicated that Ferndale’s usage was off the charts during peak times and peak locations, causing lines much longer than staff had anticipated.
The City of Ferndale acknowledged this impact on customer service and instituted a parking holiday to allow staff time to evaluate how many more pay stations are needed to support our downtown activity, and where those pay stations can best meet the traffic demands during peak business hours.
During the parking holiday, 12 additional meters were added to the parking system to mitigate line management concerns. Two additional pay stations have been held back as we continue to evaluate the downtown’s parking needs through April. Because the machines are solar powered, they are very portable and can be moved where the activity dictates. The City will relaunch the parking system on Monday, March 25, 2013 and will continue to monitor the data trends generated by customer activity on a daily basis.
Auto Parking Fund
Providing and managing a parking system is a costly component of city services. Some communities choose not to meter their parking locations, and instead fund parking management and maintenance via a dedicated millage from residents or businesses. In light of this option, the City of Ferndale has opted to dedicate user fees from parking and fines from parking violations toward an “Auto Parking Fund.” Revenues from the Auto Parking Fund may only be contributed toward the management needs of the parking system, maintenance needs of parking lots, and expansion of parking capacity via more spaces and/or non-motorized transportation (bike racks, bus stops, etc…). The long term objective of the Auto Parking Fund is to help finance the increase in parking capacity via a parking deck and/or other opportunities that allow for additional parking spaces.