(July 13, 2018) While some visitors have voiced displeasure, Ocean City has seen the public largely embrace its new pay-by-plate system in the inlet parking lot.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins told the Transportation Committee on Tuesday the city has received few emails of complaint about the new pay-by-plate system and related Park Mobile smartphone app.
“On average, we’ve received one complaint a day about the inlet parking lot,” he said. “Factor in, percentage-wise, that lot holds 1,267 parking places and that’s lots of opportunities for complaints.”
In December, the City Council agreed to spend more than $736,000 with Parkeon, who, a month earlier, presented a proposal to the Transportation Committee to replace pay and display parking kiosks on streets and municipal parking lots.
Maintenance Manager Tom Dy said although inlet parking lot revenues were down slightly this spring compared to the year prior, things have improved dramatically in the interim.
“By June we’re almost where we need to be,” he said.
On the Fourth of July, Dy said all 17 inlet lot parking machines and three staff ambassadors were fully engaged by the onslaught of tourists.
“We used staff as well as J-1 students who are bilingual,” he said. “We basically were full by 10:20 a.m.”
Use of the Park Mobile phone app has grown to about 10 percent of transactions, Dy said, with about 90 percent using credit cards over cash or coins.
With just over 300,000 transactions so far this summer, Dy said customer issues have been relatively light.
“If you look at the number of emails we are receiving, I don’t think that can compare [to the volume],” he said. “We’re very fast replying to folks that may not be familiar with the changes if they’re still looking for the booth.”
Dy also noted the city website includes a short instructional video about the new parking system.
Mayor Rick Meehan asked if long lines at the pay stations have been an issue.
“During weekdays, there is more usage on the north side and on weekends those numbers are more evened out,” Dy said. “When you see the lines, there may be one user, but there’s a family … that all congregate to the side so it looks like a massive line.”
While acknowledging the learning curve associated with change will always engender complaints, Meehan said the new system has generated less correspondence than past problems at the inlet lot.
“I think my number of emails are down as opposed to when I got complaints previously about people being backed-up in the parking lot at night,” he said.