McCarran: Technology Upgrade Enables Better Customer Service
John Van Horn
Dan Busch, Parking Manager for McCarran International Airport at Las Vegas, is responsible for most aspects of parking and ground transportation. McCarran recently completed the Terminal 3 development, which now houses its entire international and some domestic carriers, and includes more than 6,000 parking spaces.
His main objective is convenience – to get customers in and out of the airport efficiently and easily. This goal was instrumental in moving to a fully automated parking system.
McCarran first partnered with Scheidt & Bachmann in 2007, installing an automated parking revenue and control system (PRCS) for Terminal 1 & 2 parking facilities. That was followed shortly thereafter with the new Economy Lot, adding more than 5,000 parking spaces to the existing system. The Terminal 3 system was completed in June 2012.
PT sat down with Busch, the 24-year veteran of McCarran airport Parking and Transportation, to explore some of his experiences as the technology changed through the years.
What does your position entail?
Overall management of the airport’s public and employee parking operations, as well as the automated vehicle identification
(AVI) system for commercial ground transportation operators.
What problems did you want to
solve when you went out for bid for new equipment?
There were two primary problems we
solved by purchasing a new revenue and control system.
The first problem was that we were using 13-year-old PRCS software that was essentially no longer supported by the provider and was very limited in its functionality and scalability. This issue was especially important to McCarran, as we recently completed a $2.4 billion terminal with a 6,000-space parking facility. Having a reliable, competent, and proven PRCS provider was crucial.
The second issue was the need to replace more than 900 individual parking meters used to control all of our short-term parking spaces. The meters had been used for more than 13 years, and although they worked well, they were very restrictive for rate increases and statistical information. By installing a traditional ticket-in, ticket-out gate-controlled parking facility, we improved our customer service and decreased the total number of parking citations issued.
What was the biggest challenge related to the
The biggest challenge we found was determining which features and capabilities we wanted with the new PRCS. Not only did we need to choose a system that met our current needs at Terminal 1, we also needed to ensure that the system was expandable for several parking facilities being built in the near future. As the seventh-busiest airport in North America, it is important that McCarran provide a high level of customer service and convenience with its parking operations.
We contracted with Kimley-Horn and Associates to assist us with that effort. Not only did they assist us with the design, layout and functionality of the new system, they also assisted us and provided guidance during the RFP process and the performance specification contract. The firm has continued to assist us with the PRCS on-site evaluations and testing to ensure all performance specifications are met.
Did you see an increase in revenue when the new
system was installed?
For the most part, there was no significant increase in parking revenue. The real benefit to purchasing and installing the new PRCS was the improved reliability and expandability. Additionally, we significantly improved customer service with the use of paystations and express exit lanes.
Were you able to see a reduction in staff, or were you able to move staff into more appropriate positions?
Because we chose to use automated paystations and express exit lanes, we were able to reassign many of our staff from cashier booths to different areas. At Terminal 1, we have three primary paystation areas, so staff was reassigned to work these areas and provide assistance to our customers. During the first year of using the new system, this was an important function to ensure that our customers knew how to use the paystation. Approximately 80% of our transactions are in short-term parking, which previously had been handled with individual parking meters that accepted quarters only. The meters had been in place for 13 years, so the transition to paystations that accepted only bills or credit cards was a big change for our customers.
How did the installation go? Were there any hiccups? How were they handled?
For the most part, the installation went fine. A local contractor was
hired to do $1.2 million of civil work to provide the necessary infrastructure. Scheidt & Bachmann did a fantastic job ensuring that the equipment was manufactured, tested and delivered from Germany per the
The installation looks very clean. I note that you use handsets for the intercoms. Most suppliers have flush mounted speakers. Why did you make that decision?
Airports are traditionally very noisy places. We wanted our customers to hear easily and to be heard clearly by the control center staff so their problems can be quickly and appropriately addressed. Sometimes the most ‘modern’ looking devices don’t solve the problems.
What would you do different if you had it to do over?
Looking back on this four-year-long project, there really are no significant issues that I would have handled any differently. Of course, there are always small issues and problems to be dealt with on a project of this size, but they were all manageable and somewhat expected.
Article Abstract from April, 2013