Calgary Parking Authority

“Revolutionizing parking with the ParkPlus System”

The Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) fulfills the City of Calgary’s parking mandates and implements the municipality’s parking policies by managing on- and off-street public parking facilities, enforcement programs and providing parking advisory services. Today, the Calgary Parking Authority uses leading-edge technology to provide public parking on streets, in parkades and in surface parking lots. The CPA is committed to providing excellent customer service as they continually review regulations and implement technology to provide the best parking options and customer experience.

In 1968, the Calgary City Council passed a by-law, establishing the Calgary Parking Authority to develop and operate public parking facilities on behalf of The City of Calgary. The CPA reports to City Council through its Board of Directors. In 1994, responsibility for parking enforcement and management of the impound lot was also transferred to the CPA. The world of parking has changed dramatically over the past ten years and the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) has been at the forefront from the very beginning.

Officially charged with the duties of managing and enforcing on- and off-street parking on behalf of The City of Calgary, the CPA also became a parking software pioneer after it invented then developed the ParkPlus System™. Since then, parking in Calgary has never been easier and payment can be done with just a few touches on your cell phone or at a pay machine.

When the ParkPlus system debuted on Calgary’s streets in 2007, the CPA called it a revolution. Their primary goal was to create a more convenient experience for their customers and stakeholders. Today, this system is one of the most sophisticated pay-by-plate systems available and they are ready to share it.

The ParkPlus System uses a dual-pronged approach to marry the payment and enforcement processes through the use of licence plate recognition technology; the license plate effectively becomes the parking permit or credential.  The CPA stands apart from other providers by handling both aspects in tandem and has experienced a 15 per cent increase in net revenue as a result of these management efficiencies.

How the ParkPlus System works

The customer enters the system using their licence plate number at either a pay machine or with their cell phone, while camera mounted vehicles scan licence plates to verify payment.  This process streamlines efficiency and can be used on-street, in surface lots or within parkades through the installation of stationary cameras to create a virtual gate. It’s the ease and efficiency of this system that sets it apart from others: customers have a straight-forward and easy way to pay so they do, while on the operations-side, enforcement officers only have to check the vehicles in violation, which are just a small percentage of the vehicles scanned by the system.  All those vehicles for which payment has been made are automatically accepted as valid by the system.

The City of Calgary experience

When the ParkPlus System was introduced, the goal was to provide added customer convenience and this remains a goal to this day. Over the years, the CPA has developed a reputation for being innovative and both technologically and customer service driven, and their customers have taken notice. In a recent survey conducted by Ipsos Reid (2013), 88 per cent of CPA customers indicated that they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the ParkPlus System while 92 per cent of their cell phone payment customers echoed those satisfaction levels. Recent data shows that these satisfaction levels have resulted in a 19 per cent increase in payment compliance: people are choosing to pay for their parking more than ever before.

Since the adoption of the ParkPlus System, the City of Calgary has benefited from a 10 per cent increase in available on-street space because painting designated stall space isn’t necessary. By opening up the curb side in this manner, more vehicles are able to park in a given area as smaller cars are able to utilize space that a regular sized vehicle can’t squeeze into.

The city’s downtown street-scape was also immediately enhanced through the removal of hundreds of meters that clogged the sidewalks, and this made way for easier pedestrian access which supports The City’s goal of encouraging alternate modes of transportation.

The CPA has experienced staggering enforcement related successes. As a result of using automated photo enforcement, today, 10 enforcement officers do what 16 officers produced with ticket numbers. More notably, there’s been a 60 per cent drop in the number of disputed tickets because of the strength of photo evidence; as a result, the number of court challenges has been drastically reduced saving the company costs related to fees and time spent in court.  These same streamlined efficiencies have impacted the operations side of the business as well. Today, the CPA does more with fewer staff which has given the organization the ability to redistribute its manpower and finances and allowed for an enhanced customer experience.

ParkPlus System helps businesses

The ParkPlus System was a home-grown, high-tech answer to effectively managing publicly owned on- and off-street parking on behalf of Calgarians. After having tremendous success with these applications, the simplicity of the system from both the user and operator’s perspective has been a point of interest for businesses as well as other municipalities.

In 2014 the CPA became the choice provider for the Calgary Zoo’s parking needs because of its ability to manage both the operations and enforcement aspects under one roof.  This opportunity was a big step for the parking authority in bringing its product and services to the private sector; since this implementation, which included transitioning more than 20,000 zoo members parking privileges to an online in-house developed program called Park Online, other opportunities have opened up.

Soon after the zoo launch, TELUS Spark (which is Calgary’s science centre) transitioned to the ParkPlus System and now residential and commercial developers are looking to the ParkPlus System to maximize their on-site parking supply.

The sky appears to be the limit for the system and its applications.  The City of Edmonton has been testing it in their downtown core with great success and customer satisfaction. The CPA knows the strength of its product and its current goal is to get the ParkPlus System into cities around the world so they too can reap the rewards the CPA has experienced over the years.

Recently, the CPA teamed up with Cubic Transportation Systems, which is the company responsible for developing and supplying integrated transportation solutions to major cities like London and Sydney, to see how the CPA’s software might fit into projects they’re exploring around globe.

Park Online Application

The CPA is excited to spearhead “Park Online”, a new online application that puts Calgarians in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing their parking around the city. Park Online ensures a seamless process whether for customers: parking in a CPA lot on a monthly basis, have a reserved stall at a Calgary Transit Park & Ride location or customers who enjoy the parking privileges that come with being a Calgary Zoo or TELUS Spark (Science Centre) member.

Park Online is the tool customers can use to get on the wait list for monthly parking. Upon registration, customers can instantly see their status and upon reaching the top of the waitlist, are contacted for a monthly contract at one of their choice locations. Existing customers will enjoy complete control of their monthly parking. There is no issue with using multiple vehicles as the system allows licence plate updates, eliminating the need of emailing in a change request.

Creating Sustainable Engagement

CPA’s current developments are to deliver new customer service technological enhancements including a mobile optimized website. This will provide access for smart phones across all platforms. Customers can top up their ParkPlus System accounts while on the go. CPA is also working on an improved Residential Parking Permit system (RPP), which will be based on vehicle plate numbers, enabling purchase and renewal online.

This new RPP system will provide more efficient enforcement through licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras mounted on vehicles.  The CPA issues over 30,000 RPPs annually; effective enforcement is integral to the delivery of service to residential neighbourhoods. Improved efficiency, provided by LPR enforcement, will deliver this service across the greater Calgary area.

Other developments include “Support the Impound Lot and East Village Parkade projects; the CPA will be building a new structure at their vehicle impound lot to replace existing structures and house all parking enforcement officers and offices at one location.

The CPA is in the planning stages for a new 800 stall parkade in the East Village area of downtown Calgary to replace parking and to provide for the additional demand from the new Calgary Public Library and the National Music Centre, presently under construction. The development of this parkade will be a unique public and private venture in which the CPA and The City of Calgary will sell land, currently a 280 stall surface lot, owned by The City in exchange for strata title to develop enclosed parking stalls.

The CPA will manage those stalls as public parking and may manage the rest of the parking associated with the development as well.  The development will be a mixed-use development, potentially involving residential, office, retail, and hotel space. This allows the CPA to make use of existing assets while ensuring the best use of valuable downtown property. This business model will likely be applied towards other future developments in Calgary’s downtown area.

Commitment to Community

The CPA believes in attracting the best team and is a workplace of choice.  They offer employees benefits such as flexible work options; provide opportunities for learning and development and offer health and wellness support. They always focus on working at being the best and strive to improve customer service practices for both external and internal customers through further staff training and the introduction of service enhancements.

The CPA is committed to supporting and building strong communities. Each year, the CPA returns tens of millions of dollars to The City of Calgary that go towards building recreation centres, libraries, pathways and supporting the transportation network. They further support organizations like Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary’s Road Home, Inter-faith food bank, The United Way, Backpacks for Kids and Canadian Blood Services.

The CPA also assists with public safety at events, such as parades, community festivals, or in association with public emergencies. They frequently participate in public awareness and education campaigns like “Park Safe School Safety”, “Child Safety Awareness Campaign” and “Curb the Tickets”.

The CPA is a leader in the parking enforcement business because of their focus on compliance, where there is an emphasis placed on revenue gained from their customers paying to park rather than through the payment of tickets. While enforcement remains to be a large part of what the CPA does, their aim is to deliver exceptional parking solutions linked with compliance in parking regulations through public education and information.

To learn more about the Calgary Parking Authority and its ParkPlus System visit: