PARCS, also known as Parking Access and Revenue Control Systems, allow parking lot owners and operators to collect revenue and control parking lot access using an automated system. They can contain numerous components including credit card payment terminals, gates, license plate readers, software, and others.
PARCS allow for full parking lot management and help minimize passbacks—that is, misuse of the parking lot wherein someone attempts to use access facilities out of order, or fraudulently.
First, we’ll run through the basics of each possible component:
Pay stations are terminals where customers can input payments, print entry or exit tickets, and obtain receipts for parking. They allow for sales to occur without an attendant on-site. Some machines accept cash as well as being able to process credit cards, but others accept only credit card payments.
Pay stations can be either Pay on Foot (POF) systems, or Pay in Lane (PIL) types. POF systems require customers to park, exit their cars, and then approach the pay station on foot. Pay in Lane systems allow customers to stay in their cars, pay for parking, and then drive to their parking spot.
Entry and exit stations can include a variety of features. They might dispense tickets, accept credit card payments, or both. They sometimes include a barrier gate that rises and falls for customers to drive through. These stations increase security and can result in lower incidences of stolen parking spots and missed payments.
As described above, barrier gates block access until a step, such as a dispensed ticket or a payment, is completed. After it is completed, the gate rises to allow vehicles to pass. The gate can be a bar or a pole. Barrier gates make it significantly more difficult for unauthorized cars to access the parking lot.
There are several types of systems used to capture and log license plate numbers of vehicles entering and exiting the parking facility. These can involve mounted or handheld systems, known as LPR and LPI.
License Plate Recognition (LPR) systems use strategically-positioned cameras to capture license plate information. The results are then automatically searched in a database of legally-registered license plate numbers.
License Plate Inventory (LPI) systems are handheld, requiring an operator to remain on-site. Instead of cameras, the handheld device scans license plates and saves them. The operator can then access the plate information later and cross-reference it with a database.
Software integrated with components like pay stations and entry/exit stations allow for smooth operation and automation of entry, exit, payment, and other components. Many systems allow owners to monitor operation with features like web integration, reporting, remote access control, and others.
In the next section, we’ll compare and contrast the features of a few of the most popular parking management systems.
Depending on your needs, you might benefit greatly from certain PARC features, but have little use for others. For example, if you require a completely remote system, you wouldn’t want to include a License Plate Inventory System, as these are handheld, and require an attendant to be on-site.
Since different parking access and revenue control systems offer different product lines and features, we’ll compare some of the biggest ones here: Skidata, Amano McGann, and Hamilton.
Skidata’s parking management systems are fully integrated, with physical systems that can be linked with Skidata’s management software for turnkey operation. They offer both staffed and unstaffed, automated systems.
Skidata systems and software allow owners to accept a very wide variety of payments including cash, credit, debit, mobile payments, Apple Pay, and even coupons. They also offer a variety of technology in their ticketing systems like RFID, multiple barcode types, employee parking pass cards, mobile ticketing, and others. Industry-leading encryption keeps Skidata ticketing systems secure.
Like Skidata, Amano McGann offers a full suite of parking management products and software. They offer entry and exit terminals that integrate with a payment station, requiring customers to take an entry ticket before they can pay via credit card at a payment terminal.
Their software is called the iParcProfessional Access Control Software. It includes a web client that allows owners remote access to reporting, real-time transactions, customer data, and other key information points. It also allows monitoring of the anti-passback system and alert you to potential passback attempts.
Hamilton is a leading manufacturer of automated systems for parking lots and car washes. Their systems use cloud-hosted software.
Here’s how each of the three PARCS systems measures up in key areas:
When it comes to choosing the right Parking Management System, it depends on your individual needs. Some parking areas will need to be secured with entry and exit gates, while others will not. Some facilities are better suited for pay in lane stations, and for others, a pay on foot station will be ideal. All major parking system providers come with advanced analytics. But ultimately, what features and equipment you choose will depend mostly on your particular facilities and budget.