“SP+ has gone above and beyond our expectations by providing industry leading service. A true partner, SP+ recognizes the City’s vision of building an industry leading parking program and is providing the dedicated resources needed to meet our goals and objectives, always with our customers and stakeholders in mind.”
Calvin Watts, City of Atlanta, GA – Department of Transportation
In March 2017, SP+ and partner All N One Security Services were awarded the opportunity to fully manage the City of Atlanta’s municipal on-street parking program branded ATLPlus. Focused on customer convenience and compliance through accessible payment availability, ATLPlus deployed mobile app payment zones to all spaces in the paid parking system. With minimal marketing and moderate visual curbside promotion (standard decals on the sides of pay stations) mobile app growth was stagnant.
In the fall of 2017, the ATLPlus program began a pay by plate conversion project by upgrading the City’s 180 existing Flowbird pay stations and replacing over 700 single space meters with 150 new Flowbird pay stations. Where upgrades took place, a new signage and branding package was deployed with a visual focus on mobile app payment availability and app zone numbering. Block faces were bookend with “Pay by App” zone signs, fresh mobile app decals were applied to the sides of pay stations, and enforcement ambassadors greeted customers with first hour free promo codes.
The results were immediate. Over the 12 months following the completion of the hardware and branding upgrades, the number of mobile by app transactions increase 185%.
Utilizing data generated from ATLPlus’ new pay by plate system, transaction trends began to show disparities occurring in unlikely sections of the system, particularly the Buckhead Commercial District (BCD). Unlike other areas, the BCD’s relatively new decorative single space credit card enabled meters were not replaced during the hardware upgrade project and received minimum signage and branding improvements. In the BCD, the percentage mobile app transactions were 9.5% less than the full paid parking system.
An initiative was set forth to raise BCD app utilization to be in line with the broader ATLPlus system. Using data to identify block faces across the paid parking system with the highest mobile app utilization rates, ATLPlus completed a critical review to determine positive contributing factors. Once in the field, not entirely surprising, the areas with the highest utilization had additional “Pay by App” zone signs installed along the block faces. And then a revelation. These additional sign placements allowed customers to identify mobile app zones from their vehicles and complete transactions before ever stepping onto the curb. The convenience of paying from the driver’s seat and never having to approach a meter was driving pay by cell adoption.
The BCD was the perfect site to test how field marketing could increase awareness and influence customer behavior. A comprehensive branding and marketing plan was adopted with continuing transaction detail monitoring to measure the results. To aid customers in identifying mobile app zones from a relative distance, new sign and decal designs were created and tested. BCD’s 13 mobile app zones were consolidated into two with the goal of bolstering geographical based zone familiarity and encouraging effortless customer participation. Relative to a driver’s perspective, a deliberate visual marketing plan was developed for each space to ensure mobile app zones were conspicuously visible. All single space meters were treated to new zone focused “Pay by App” decals and old signs were replaced with vibrant “Pay by App” signage. Supplemental signs averaging three per four spaces were added along block faces, 50% more than what is typical of a standard installation.
In February 2019, the month following installation, mobile app utilization in the BCD increased 39.99% over January. Remarkably, in March mobile app utilization soared by an astounding 69.63% increase over February. In less than 60 days from deployment the ATLPlus program saw a 137.46% increase in the number of mobile app transactions in the BCD and was averaging more mobile app transaction than the total system. By October 2019, more than 50% of the transaction in the BCD took place on mobile app.
This momentous trend has continued month after month where in October 2019 mobile app utilization in the BCD was 10.78% higher than the total ATLPlus system.
Mobile app transactions currently (October 2019) account for more than 40% of all parking payments across the ATLPlus system. With nominal cost for additional signs, ATLPlus is currently working to deploy across the paid parking system. We have always known electronic forms of payment produce higher average ticket prices than cash transactions. We also recognize mobile app convenience creates a better customer experience while increasing compliance. These key factors inform our efforts to evolve our on-street parking operations into the successful programs of tomorrow. In this case something as simple as a change in perspective, a little graphic design creativity, and a desire to progress have yielded substantial changes that will have positive effects beyond the ATLPlus system.