GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — In the next few months, you won’t need to have coins or even use cash to park at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Members of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, after a lengthy discussion at their meeting this week, approved replacing the antiquated parking meters it has employed for many years with a modern kiosk system found in many parking facilities.
Instead of putting dimes and quarters into slots, you will rent your space for as long as you want by prepaying with a credit or debit card at a station near a stairway or pathway to the terminal.
You also will be able to pay through an app or by using electronic currency.
And it was those payment methods that were a significant part of the board’s discussion about spending $170,000 on installation and then $15,000-plus on an annual subscription to T2 Systems, which bills itself as “the largest parking, mobility and transportation provider in North America.”
Airport Executive Director Kevin Baker said in an email after the meeting that the airport has 4,175 spaces with 4,000 in long-term parking and 175 in short-term areas.
“In a typical year we would have roughly 275,000 exits,” he said in answer to how many customers there were.
Joe Styres, the chief financial officer at PTI, spearheaded this project and advocated for the board to approve the T2 deal.
He said “about 95% or more of current customers in parking facilities are on credit-card systems. These types of systems normally are cashless. There would be no need for the daily unload for coins and cash.”
Baker said such a system would be a huge improvement. “A lot of times people come without coins and come into the building looking for places they can get change,” he said.
Paying with cash
But it was that issue of cash that prompted Bill Bencini, a board member from High Point, nearly to delay the adoption of the project because he was concerned about customers who are used to paying with cash, who prefer cash or who may not have the required cards or other payment sources.
“I wouldn’t want us to exclude people who prefer cash,” Bencini said.
But Styres pointed out that cash payment wasn’t an issue strictly about parking at the airport.
“We have cash[less] partners in our facility,” he said. “Airlines don’t accept cash. Cash is almost dead. A traveler must go to a cash machine, put in cash and get a card and go down to the airlines and pay with the card.”
Baker, prompted by Bencini’s questions, asked if there was a module that could be placed on the new unit to allow for cash as well as cards.
“That’s likely to substantially increase the cost of the current quote we have for the system,” Styres said. “We are several months out with that quote. If we don’t move within this calendar year, then there will be a reforecast [of price].”
And he said such a module “is unlikely to be a bolt-on. It will be a different box.”
He also then pointed out that the “cash-to-card” system available in the airport would accommodate the cash customers would need for parking. They could go inside, put in cash, get a debit card and then use it in the parking lot.
Styres also said there would be a grace period on entry as part of the rollout plan, which prompted Bencini to say the motion should go forward.
Increase in revenue
Baker said “the revenue system comes behind that [installation].”
The new system also would have a monitoring capability to keep track of customers who are parked legally and who might need to be ticketed for overstaying. Styres said the system is attached to a cloud and automatically tracks people whose time expires.
“Now it’s entirely manual, almost on honor system,” Styres said. “Meter parking [in place] is quite a desirable space.”
Baker later said in an email that about 100 citations a week are issued for overstaying with “a handful of those resulting in tows.”
Styres said the meter lot made about $225,000 in 2019 using what he called “extremely old rates” – meaning they were much below what might be more appropriate for the market.
“Frankly we could be looking at $500,000 a year [in revenue],” he said.