Tuning up the transport experience with an open market for parking

Parking is no stranger to change

As a wave of digitalisation washes over society, many industries are being reinvigorated through the introduction of convenient, mobile solutions. Parking is one industry that has been swept up in this, with a largescale transition from cash to cashless services, and what’s amazing is that all this has only happened in the past decade and a half.

Drivers have benefitted from the advent of technology, with advanced mapping, space location, mobile payment services and session extension – all accessible through an app. If you explained this technology to someone 20 years ago, they wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, despite how many strides we’ve made, with the plethora of new services available, added convenience doesn’t come without challenges.

Working around faded signage, the need to download or redownload a different app, and re-enter details just to pay for parking can be frustrating. It’s not a perfect system, but introducing an open market could prove key to alleviating some of this stress.

How multivendor improves our relationship with technology

Parking is the first and last part of a driver’s journey, and the experience drivers take from this can influence how they move about towns and cities. A good parking experience is important for business, as it can encourage drivers to visit high streets, spend with local shops and make return journeys to retail centres.

Research shows that 50% of motorists admit to avoiding particular retail parks or shopping centres because they think they’re likely to encounter parking issues there. This is why properly managing parking experiences is about so much more than a rectangle of asphalt and a few white lines. Implementing a solution with real choice is the next step in catering to the customer. It is a strategy that increases parking convenience and improves the perception of transport in local areas.

Having multiple cashless parking solutions operate in the same area is the future. While this seems like common sense, it is actually a relatively new concept for the UK, one which really puts the power in motorist’s hands for the first time. Drivers don’t have to spend time reading through confusing signage or downloading multiple applications. They get to choose the best app for them, with the easiest user experience, and benefit from stress-free parking experiences. While this shift to multiple solution provision puts convenience as a top priority, the benefits don’t stop there – local authorities can reap rewards too.

What multivendor means for local authorities

Multivendor options help local authorities manage the influx of cars on the road. On Friday 28 May 2021, according to data from the Department for Transport, car traffic hit 101% of the average level seen in the first week of February 2020. The increase in traffic coincided with the start of some school holidays, good weather, and the bank holiday weekend. With Britain moving again, and upticks of traffic on our streets, drivers will look for the easiest ways to park. This change, coupled with the decline of cash accelerating widescale removal of pay and display machines across many localities, means that providing digital convenience will be a huge revenue driver for councils.

Local authorities can reap the productivity and efficiency benefits from open market solutions. There are benefits for data-driven insights, with aggregated reporting across providers and machines. It also reduces costs and increases uptake of cashless parking, creates competition in the market, and increases focus on innovation, benefiting both councils and end-consumers.

While relatively new in the UK, Europe has been leveraging multivendor solutions for years. Councils may still be seeking the cheapest option, but an open market approach can benefit both local authorities and suppliers too. Councils can request qualitative applications from cashless providers, then share pricing, with a tacit agreement that suppliers act sensibly, and don’t charge an extortionate rate per parking session.

How an open market will be vital for parking

The switch to multivendor will shape the next chapter of changes for the parking industry. It will alter how we travel, and the convenience we experience when moving around the country and visiting towns and cities.

As with the nature of change, there will be short-term disruption to manage, with councils having to juggle enforcement, tariffs, and reconciliation of funds across multiple providers. But dealing with these inconveniences for a brief period will lead to the creation of a superior system for parking.

The domino effects from an open market offering will provide great rewards for drivers and councils alike. A multivendor approach breeds competition in the market, where drivers can pick and choose the provider they personally prefer, leaning towards those that offer the best solution. It also helps councils get better value for parking tenders, and benefit from qualitative changes without exorbitant costs attached.

About the Author

Peter O’ Driscoll is Managing Director at RingGo. RingGo is the UK’s no.1 parking app, ensuring a stress-free journey every time. RingGo provides cashless parking solutions for 100s of local councils, towns, cities and private operators around the UK and is trusted by over 18 million motorists.


Featured image: ©CreativeNature_nl