Vinci Park - On-street parking management business line

Because Safety, Profitability and Efficiency are terms that also apply to paid on-street parking, VINCI PARK has a duty to provide municipal authorities with innovative high-performance solutions. The new technologies offer new options, when electronic payment, with the Meneo card for example, is used, paid-on-street parking management extends beyond colleting payment to central management of data which, when analyzed, enables the city to optimize its parking policy, in conjunction with the change in technology, VINCI PARK is reviewing its on-street parking management business line.

3 questions to Jean-René Garinaud, head of the sector

In Limoges, the parking meters have been accepting either cash or Moneo in payment since 1 May 2002. What do you think of the new system now that is has been operating for nine months?

170 parking meters are managing 2,800 spaces, every day except Sundays and public holidays. Nearly 5% of the payments are now made electronically, essentially the same percentage as with the city card that was used before (4% to 5%). This is taking awhile to get off the ground because of the upheaval Moneo caused in the retail trade and the fact that this type of payment has not been standardized with that of neighboring cities.

Did the new parking meters mean changes in your teams?

We changed our technical logistics on the ground. We don't have a centralised system as they do in Boulogne and we have to go around and read the data on each traffic meter on the spot and then credit it to a bank. It means extra work but our teams have been specially trained and they are excited about the innovation and the fact that they are breaking new ground. And as for me, I try to get them to move in the direction of progress.

What do customers think of paying for parking electronically?

They have got used to the new system, they gave it a warm reception. Mind you, this is part of a broader program introduced by the City of Limoges that fosters payment of small amounts of money for city services by Moneo (canteen, swimming pool, etc.).

Moneo: how does it work?

vinci_moneo.jpgThere are three types of Moneo electronic purse:
- The Moneo blue card, in conjunction with a bank account, which is bought empty in member banks of the BMS group or the French Post Office and is designed for customers who do not have a bank card.
- The Moneo chip which is included in 38 million bank cards, giving the holder the ability to debit either the electronic wallet or the bank card as he or she chooses, depending on the amount of the purchase. This is the most widespread form of the card at the present time.
- The green Moneo card which is anonymous and can be recharged from a bank card; it is intended to replace pocket change. This card can be recharged either in the payment terminal of the retailer when a purchase is made or else at Moneo kiosks set up in branch offices of banks and in public places.
As of 2 September last year, drivers parking on-street in Boulogne were able to pay with the French electronic purse, Moneo. There was nothing new about this: such systems had already been in use, sometimes for some months, in such cities as Tours, Limoges, Bordeaux and Rennes. What was original about Boulogne's system was its exclusivity. Everywhere else, there are at least two ways to pay for parking, coins and/or a dedicated municipal card are used in conjunction with the Moneo card on parking meters, but in Boulogne, the team under Senator and Mayor Jean-Pierre Fourcade chose to use a single means of payment. "For VINCI Park to make a choice like that was a fairly bold move, since Moneo is just getting off the ground in France," says Ludovic de Fenoyl, Regional Manager for the Ile-de-France West region. "But the situation was critical in Boulogne and the municipal team insisted on secure parking meters. We were called on to propose innovative solutions and equipment. The City took up our proposal." The background is this: Boulogne has 10,000 parking spaces managed by 557 parking meters. They were being systematically emptied by highly organised gangs. "The parking meters were being broken into everywhere, cut open with blowtorches, ripped out the way telephone booths were when they were still coin-operated. There were days when more than one hundred meters were out of order at the same time." To cope with mounting driver frustration, VINCI Park and the City of Boulogne decided to act.
vinci_woman.jpgThe new parking meters are more than a one-off solution to a problem that some consider endemic in the Paris region; the installation of the new devices ushers in a revolution in on-street parking management. This is a change that involves both the cities and VINCI Park as the operator. In Boulogne the solution consisted in replacing all on-street parking meters. The new equipment – in this case Stelio meters made by Schlumberger – are powered by solar energy and are part of a complex system with highly innovative functionalities. "To take the case of Boulogne again, when we replaced all the parking meters we introduced centralised management," says Ludovic de Fenoyl. "All the meters are fitted with a GSM modem so that technical and financial data can be transferred to a secure central server. The nerve centre of the system is installed in the VINCI Park boutique.
Centralising things this way gives the operating team real-time information on meter status and, depending on the information that comes in, the team can either act right away to get it up and running again or perform preventive maintenance. A warning can be given, for example, before the paper used to issue tickets runs out." Frédéric Demazeau, Sales and Marketing Manager, calls this "more intelligent management". The financial and statistical information thus collected is used to analyse in detail the behaviour of drivers and make proposals to the city authorities for rate adjustments or improvements in the parking offering. VINCI Park thus takes on an advisory role above and beyond technical equipment management. The municipalities have benefited from the operation: vandalism has been stopped, the crime-ridden image eliminated; the parking meter has become a tool for optimising parking; and payments are guaranteed since such things as counterfeit coins are no longer a problem.

As coin payment is phased out, VINCI Park has taken the opportunity to re-think its approach to managing on-street parking. The nature of the work involved has changed profoundly with the introduction of the new technology; as to the potential of the new IT tool, it provides, as we have seen, new ways to support the city authorities. "Everything has changed when it comes to managing payment," says sector manager Olivier Voye, who oversaw the operation in Boulogne. "In 2001, we collected nearly four tons of coins per week. But with the coin-operated parking meters, counting the collections was easy, though time-consuming. Electronic payment on the other hand requires careful and disciplined monitoring and means that we now have a new accounting activity." In concrete terms, each parking meter automatically transmits the amount collected to the server at the Boulogne VINCI Park boutique. The staff there must first make certain that all the parking meters have been reported. The server's files are then sent to the bank which in turn transmits the amounts to the Treasury. VINCI Park verifies that the sums credited to the city account match up with the amounts transmitted. The procedure is certainly cumbersome but nowhere near as troublesome as physically collecting coins. There is no longer a need to transport the heavy carts to the Treasury and to provide a room to store the bags and a City employee to witness the coin counting. "We now have greater security for our staff, we save time and we no longer have to physically handle the money," says Ludovic de Fenoyl. "Our business has become more interesting now that we are focusing on monitoring and prevention rather than repair," says Frédéric Demazeau. "The new technologies have helped enhance the jobs of the employees operating the on-street parking system by changing their qualifications. They now need to move around a lot less and can stay in the boutiques and be in touch with customers."

And what about the customers? "Those already using the city card – which operates like a telephone card, you credit it with an amount of money and then re-charge it – only had to change their card and Moneo gives them a further advantage – it is accepted all over France and not just for parking in a single city," says Ludovic de Fenoyl. "Of course, some people who were used to paying with coins will need a bit of time to get accustomed to the new system. But probably Moneo will develop the way the bank card did, and everybody takes that for granted now. Moneo's main advantage is that is so easy to use. You don't have to have change on you and pay the exact amount or else have to pay more than needed. The only constraint is that you have to make certain to recharge the card when it runs low."

Of the 10,000 parking meters VINCI Park manages in France, 1,500 now offer payment by Moneo. Only Boulogne-Billancourt and Saint-Cloud have chosen the exclusively cashless solution. By the end of 2003, the modernisation will have been carried out on up to 50% of all parking meters. Does this mean that VINCI Park sees Moneo as the electronic solution for the next couple of years?
"It is too early to tell how fast Moneo will catch on; all we can say is that its use is spreading. It is not just Moneo but electronic money in general and centralised management of payment that will revolutionise paid on-street parking in coming years," says Frédéric Demazeau. "We can already imagine several cities being centralised in a single IT server and, why not, an extension of the system to manage small car parks remotely." The electronic money solution seems to be the way of the future, but technology continues to develop apace. In Ireland, for example, the city of Dublin is experimenting with payment by mobile phone. "In four or five years, on-board information technology should offer new prospects," concludes the Sales and Marketing Manager at VINCI Park. "When you park your car, you will be able to call a number on your mobile telephone that will activate a meter. Same thing when you come back to your car and drive away. The amount will be debited the same way a telephone call is. As for on-street monitoring, this will be done by a bar code identifying the vehicle: with a pocket computer, the agent can check to see that the meter is running." You can't stop progress.

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vincipark.gifFrancois Le Vert