T2’s Total Package Helps La Crosse Deliver a Seamless Experience
La Crosse is a picturesque city located on the western border of Wisconsin. Nestled along the Mississippi River, La Crosse is home to industry-leading corporations, a bustling downtown area, three colleges and universities, and year-round recreational activities. With all these things the city has to offer, there are always visitors, residents, students, and commuters looking for a place to park. This is where La Crosse Police Parking Utility (PPU) comes in.
The Parking Division of La Crosse PPU is made up of six enforcement officers, two office staff, and a division coordinator. Together they manage roughly 8,900 on-street parking spaces – or 225 miles of city streets – and around 3,500 off-street parking spaces across five garages and two surface lots. With a small team and a large footprint, they need parking technology that is easy to use and works as it is supposed to. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with their existing solutions.
“The software we were using before was very archaic,” explained Greg Elsen, Parking Utility Coordinator. “It was like using an abacus versus a scientific calculator.” La Crosse PPU was stuck managing permits and other processes manually using spreadsheets, a very time-consuming process. Additionally, their software did not integrate well with their other systems and solutions, such as the city’s finance software and their LPR enforcement solution from Genetec.
The gated access and revenue control systems in La Crosse’s parking garages also presented challenges. “There were a lot of problems in the past with damaged gates and gates not opening when they should, causing a lot of frustration for our customers,” Elsen said. These frustrations would be intensified when large events were taking place downtown, as traffic would bottleneck trying to exit the ramps.
La Crosse PPU needed a parking management software that offered robust permitting functionality, integrated with its other solutions, and helped automate processes. It also needed a new access and revenue control solution that would alleviate the frustrations of exiting its garages. T2 was able to provide all of these things on a single platform.
Elsen and his team now use T2 Flex software to manage permits and enforcement. They started by implementing e-permits for their monthly and quarterly permit holders, who park in La Crosse’s garages and surface lots. Since then they have expanded their permit program to include residential and contractor/trade vehicle permits. All these permit types are sold through their T2 FlexPort online portal and integrate seamlessly with their Genetec LPR system for enforcement.
Additionally, La Crosse PPU went gateless with its garages using T2 Luke® II Pay Stations. Previously, transient parkers would pull a ticket upon entry and pay in-lane before exiting the facility. Now, they enter freely – without gates – park, and pay on foot at a Luke II as they leave to go to their destination. Parkers are able to add additional time via text message and exit the facility without stopping in-lane to pay or wait for a gate to raise. Meanwhile, officers monitor the facility in their LPR-equipped enforcement vehicles to check for unpaid or unpermitted parkers.
More recently, La Crosse started using T2 Citation Services. Being just across the river from Minnesota and within a half hour of Iowa, La Crosse sees a lot of commuters and visitors from these states. However, they are unable to utilize their boot and tow program with out-of-state vehicles. “They could start to collect a lot of citations and not really have any ramifications for it,” Elsen stated. T2 Citation Services is able to find registered owner information for these out-of-state vehicles and collect on the citations, effectively outsourcing the time-consuming collections process for Elsen’s team.
T2 Flex has helped streamline and automate many of La Crosse PPU’s processes. “In the past we were managing our permits on a spreadsheet, then invoicing through our finance software through the city, and it was just very time-consuming for our staff,” Elsen explained. “Now, with T2 Flex, we have it set so that on the twelfth of every month it automatically renews the permits and sends out the invoicing. Our staff is not doing any of the work anymore – it’s completely automated.”
The gateless garages have made enforcement more efficient for La Crosse PPU as well. “One of our enforcement officers can cover all of our ramps in the downtown area, where before we’d have to have two to three people making sure that the gates were working and that people were able to get in and out. It’s actually a reduction in staff,” Elsen said. Additionally, enforcement staff are finally able to easily and effectively enforce all vehicles – whether permitted, paid at a pay station, or paid via mobile payment app – as all the data runs through T2 Flex and is sent to the Genetec LPR system in real time.
The experience for parkers in the gateless garages has also been much improved. Gone are the days of waiting in long lines to pay at the exit lane or having to find a staff member to open a malfunctioning gate. Elsen highlighted a recent basketball tournament in town, noting that “attendees were able to register their vehicle and pay for time before going into the event, and when the event was over, they were exiting seamlessly.”
“T2 is a vendor that has the complete package. That’s what you want to look for.”
Greg Elsen, Parking Utility Coordinator
The Luke II Pay Stations were so successful for La Crosse that they added them to the city’s five municipal boat launches to sell daily and season passes. Just like with parkers, La Crosse gets a lot of transient boaters from other areas. The pay stations have been convenient and easy to use for visitors and residents alike. “People have really been able to grasp hold of it, and there have not been very many complaints or issues,” Elsen stated.
As an added bonus, the City of La Crosse is now using the same systems and equipment as the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, a fellow T2 customer. This has helped create familiarity for residents, students, and staff as they park in both the city and university, further enhancing La Crosse PPU’s ability to provide quality customer service.
“The biggest thing that I would recommend for people is to do the research,” Elsen said. “You want to pick a vendor that can do all of the things you need. The thing we like the most about T2 is that it’s a package – it’s not just one piece, but then you have to go out and find a third-party collections agency or find somebody else that has pay stations. T2 is a vendor that has the complete package. That’s what you want to look for.”