Ocean City Today
https://oceancitytoday.villagesoup.com/p/1687849

Transportation Commission talks app payment method

EMoney shows little use, Park Mobile on rise, city to monitor both processes
By Katie Tabeling | Sep 14, 2017

(Sept. 15, 2017) Ocean City officials continue to seek improved street parking and transit systems, but it’s still unclear how patrons will pay for those services.

On the heels of contracting with the bus-tracking smartphone app TransLoc, Councilman Dennis Dare suggested consolidating all of the resort’s online payment methods. Right now, the city uses smartphone app EMoney for the buses and Park Mobile in lieu of using the multi-space CALE parking meters.

“EMoney seems like a specialty app we have here, and we have a quarter of a million people here every week,” Dare said during Tuesday’s Transportation Commission meeting. “If it hasn’t been successful, maybe it’s time we look at Google [Wallet] and Apple Pay.”

EMoney has a relatively small percentage of use according to Assistant Superintendent of Transportation Brian Connor.  In fiscal year 2017, 4,219 EMoney bus passes were purchased, generating $12,657 in bus revenue. EMoney contributed less than .05 percent of the total bus revenue that year, which was $2.8 million.

“When we began this four years ago, it’s increased more than 100 percent in users each year,” Connor said. “It’s still a small number of total ridership. But when we considered TransLoc, we envisioned when someone was looking for a bus on their phone, they could conveniently buy a pass. TransLoc could incorporate EMoney or their own system.”

TransLoc is expected to launch in November.

As for parking fees, Park Mobile proves to be steadily growing in popularity. From March to November, when the meters are in service, the resort took in $54,319 from the app in 2015. Last year, that revenue grew to $98,047.

Otherwise, the CALE machines still operate on a “pay and display” system. Drivers go up to the machines, select the amount of time they wanted to park for, pay and then put the ticket on the vehicle’s dash. For the streets and the lots, the meters collected $1.14 million in July and August.

Earlier this year, the City Council unanimously voted to solicit requests for proposals to replace the multi-space CALE parking meters on the streets and the municipal lots. Mayor Rick Meehan at the time said it would be a “fact-finding mission” to see what vendors would propose.

“We included value added assets in the proposals to see if vendors could come up with a different approach,” Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons told the commission.

The resort would consider refurbishing or redesigning the existing CALE machines if there is cost saving measures for the town, according to the Procurement Department.

Dare recommended sticking with simplicity in the transportation system, and catering to what people know best.

“It’s the KISS principle. Keep it simple, stupid,” he said. “When you see people lined up to try and figure out the parking system, it doesn’t look good.”

Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out that parking systems vary across the country, and understanding each one would be a challenge. Request for proposals included statistics on the visitor’s home states to help narrow what processes Ocean City’s tourists are used to using.

“It’s not uniform. I was out there trying to figure out how to use it when I was at Virginia Beach,” Meehan said. “We’ll continue to monitor this and be mindful to what people are using.”

Request for proposals also include recommendations on how to improve the inlet lot parking system, but nothing has been decided by the council. Invitations for parking management bids are due on Sept. 25.

Funding for upgrades to either CALE or the inlet lot has yet to be requested.

 

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