T2 Flex & PARCS Help Texas A&M Increase Efficiency & Instill Trust
Texas A&M Transportation Services broke from the University Police Department in 1988 and became its own independent operation. After using a homegrown system for years, they implemented T2’s PowerPark solution in 2003 and upgraded to T2 Flex several years later. Since then, they have added numerous other solutions to unify their operations on a single platform.
Today, Texas A&M Transportation Services has a 175-person team managing over 36,000 parking spaces – the most of any university in the nation – across 130 parking lots and 7 garages. This includes about 90 lanes of controlled traffic. With such a large number of facilities and lanes and over 84,000 students, faculty, and staff using them on a regular basis, over time their PARCS equipment began to show some wear and tear.
It came time for Texas A&M to upgrade some of their T2 PARCS equipment, as it was reaching end of life. They also needed to purchase additional PARCS equipment for a new garage they were building. Texas A&M saw an opportunity to look into a larger-scale upgrade to create a more consistent experience across campus both for parkers and for staff who manage and maintain the equipment.
Texas A&M wanted hardware that didn’t just look more modern, but that provided a more modern and user-friendly experience for both customers and staff. They were also hoping to move to barcode scanning for tickets as opposed to ticket transports, “which were our biggest maintenance item and customer service issue,” according to Dell Hamilton, Transportation Manager.
At the time, T2 had recently released its next generation of PARCS hardware, T2 Logan. “Seeing the Logan hardware at IPMI got us excited,” said Lynn Wiggs, Associate Director. “It offered solutions to demagnetized tickets, lost tickets, and had better barcode scanning.”
“We made a decision to invest in and upgrade all of our equipment across all of our garage and revenue-controlled lanes to T2 Logan,” stated Debbie Lollar, Executive Director, Transportation Services. “A whole lot of things aligned to make that the right decision at the time.”
“The Logan hardware gives a great, consistent experience for our customers, which is important,” Lollar said. With Logan, Texas A&M was able to move to barcode scanning in all its lanes, ending the headache of maintaining ticket transports while also providing an improved customer experience. Additionally, the modern design and layout of the equipment itself, including the integrated touchscreen, “is more user-friendly and intuitive for our customers and provides greater functionality,” Hamilton stated.
“Equally as important is a consistent experience for our team,” Lollar stated. From the people maintaining the equipment to those interacting with customers who are having trouble, having the same equipment across campus “just makes it run smoothly because we don’t have to think about what’s happening in one location as compared to another.” A large part of what makes things run so smoothly for Texas A&M is the data available within the T2 Flex platform.
“The data is rich, it’s understandable, and it’s available at all levels of our operation, from the person answering the phone to the technician to the leadership team that wants to pull reports and analyze it,” Lollar explained. “That was significant in giving our team credibility with our customers and with our university administrators. And being able to make decisions based on data just developed a lot of trust that we didn’t have with our constituent base before.”
That ease of operation, access to data, and customer trust was tested when a tornado and hailstorm came through College Station. As the storm was approaching toward the end of the business day, each of Texas A&M’s seven garages began to fill quickly as people searched for cover.
“We did have staff monitoring it, but not to the degree that you might expect with that kind of a quick influx of customers,” Lollar said. “However, the gates controlled the flow. The in-lane devices and the automatic pay stations allowed transactions to happen without staff on hand. Because there was hail, we were able to quickly remove the spaces from our occupancy count that were on the roof. That allowed us to say the garages were full when the covered spaces were occupied so we didn’t include the empty spaces that weren’t covered.
“We did have an instance where we said a garage was full, and people were still trying to enter. Somebody in the middle lane got out of the passenger seat and manually raised every gate. But with the camera system that we use and the data from them swiping to try to get in, we could identify who they were and hold them accountable for their actions.”
“The data is rich, it’s understandable, and it’s available at all levels of our operation, from the person answering the phone to the technician to the leadership team that wants to pull reports and analyze it. That was significant in giving our team credibility with our customers and with our university administrators.”
Debbie Lollar, Executive Director, Transportation Services
“I can’t overemphasize the value of having all aspects of our parking operation in one system. We just don’t feel like we can get that anywhere else,” Lollar stated. “And the value of that is the confidence our customers have that our systems are going to work and that we’ll do what we say we’ll do, because it puts those rules in place for us in a consistently applied way, and each of our teams having the data to quickly problem solve.
“It just really changed the way that we can do business and the relationships that we have with our customers and our administrative team. They have so much confidence in what we do and how we do it because we can tell them about it. We can show them the data. It’s phenomenal.
“And the relationships that we have with the people at T2 make us want to continue to do business with them, brag about them, and promote them to other peers. I think other universities, cities, and airports would benefit from those same things.”