Transportation & Parking Department 2010 Report
Productivity and Services Up, Operational Costs and Waiting Lists Down
During 2010, the Department of Transportation and Parking increased parking enforcement productivity by 11%, boosted revenue from new multi-space meters by 40%, reduced costs through efficiencies and by recruiting more than 50 student and professional volunteers, made more efficient use of existing resources including parking garage space, and realized nearly 20% more in revenue than initially projected. This does not include revenues associated with issued parking summonses since these monies go directly to the City’s general fund and are not considered when preparing the department’s budget.
Newly introduced programs have been a success, with Corner Cars attracting more than 1,000 residents and “Surrender Your Permit” resulting in 60 fewer residents competing for limited on-street parking. The expanded Hop system received state-of-the-art tracking technology improvements and reached record ridership levels, while garage waiting lists that were previously years long have been nearly eliminated.
With a focus on pedestrian safety, the City recently completed sidewalk widening construction and safety improvements along Hudson Place – the highest pedestrian traffic area in Hoboken — and installed “daylighting” poles at 38 intersections throughout the City to improve visibility between vehicles and pedestrians. For the first time ever, the City responded to resident concerns about safety using engineering studies backed by pedestrian crossing volume counts to warrant all-way stop signs that prioritize pedestrians over vehicles at critical neighborhood crossings. An additional 140 bicycle parking spaces were installed, including 48 more near the Terminal, and Hoboken became only the second City in New Jersey to receive an honorable mention as a bike friendly city.
The City’s progressive policies and initiatives have been widely praised by transportation and environmental advocates and received local, national, and international attention in news and academic publications.
Parking Enforcement Productivity Way Up
Despite only a slight increase in the overall number of Parking Enforcement Officers (PEO’s) since last year (22 versus 21), enforcement coverage and responsiveness has increased significantly due to careful attention to PEO productivity and improved scheduling techniques. Productivity is a critical measure to ensure that hired staff are properly performing their job duties while on the clock. Improved productivity also translates directly to better protection of limited on-street parking for residents. Preliminary findings of these results were first illustrated during the budget workshops this summer by comparing month-on-month summons counts and revenue collected data over the past two years. Despite a nominal change in staffing numbers, PEO�s are now much more productive every hour they are in the field. Overall PEO productivity has increased 11.6 percent over the past year.
|PEO Productivity 2009 vs 2010|
|Total Summons issued||66,058||77,130||+11,072|
|Number of PEOs||21||22||+1|
|Productivity Rate: Summons/(PEOsx1000)||3.146||3.510||+11.6%|
One change implemented was a move towards �wave� enforcement versus the traditional �static� assignments.
�PEO�s have typically been given a beat and told to do one thing, like meters or permit enforcement,� explained PEO Supervisor Vivian DeLanzo. �What we�re doing now is focusing our limited numbers on certain infractions at the appropriate times of day: crosswalks early in the morning, meters at 9:00 am when they go live, and parking permits later in the afternoon when resident parking gets tightest.�
PEO Supervisor Bob Orsini added, �This makes the best use of our resources and improves overall productivity, which translates directly to improved enforcement of limited parking.�
Revenues Reach All-Time Highs
In recent months, the Parking Utility has reached record highs in revenue generation due to the creation of new revenue streams, tightened garage and meter collections, as well as the improved enforcement efficiencies described above. Utility revenue includes garage, lot, meter, permit, and other parking products; it does not include revenues associated with issued parking summonses since these monies go directly to the City�s general fund. In fact, the Parking Utility does not consider parking ticket revenues at all when preparing its budget.
The result is that Utility 2010 revenues exceeded projections by nearly 20%.
|TY2010 Revenue Summary|
|*Includes estimate for final two weeks of 12/10|
Reasons for this major jump are many, but each incremental change has contributed to the overall increases. For example, it was observed early on that the municipal parking garages were oftentimes full midday, but many spots were unoccupied overnight. This problem is not new, but nothing had been done about it for nearly ten years.
�It made no sense; residents were waiting for years to get a monthly parking space in City garages just so that the garages could make money on daytime transient parkers,� said Director Sacs. �So I asked the obvious question: �Why can’t we do both?��
In the spring, the Utility begin testing a “Monthly Limited” product that leases parking spaces to residents who commute daily with their cars for $140/month, giving them a place to park their cars overnight but requiring that the car is not in the garage weekdays between 10:00am and 4:00pm. So far, the new “Monthly Limited” product has resulted in nearly 50 new accounts – and therefore 50 cars off the streets – without building a single new parking space. The new Monthly Limited product has so far increased garage revenues by nearly $55,000 and is steadily growing as it is expanded to other garages, allowing more residents to take advantage of this option.
Corner Cars Take Cars Off The Street and Add New Revenue
Hoboken’s community car-sharing program, �Corner Cars,� allows residents who don�t commute by car every day to live car-free by making hourly car rentals inexpensive and as easy as possible. In just six months since inception, there are more than 1,000 Hoboken residents sharing the 42 Corner Cars located around the City in reserved on-street spaces designated by a green box and sign. The “green” Corner Cars fleet has an overall MPG rating above 35MPG.
The 42 Corner Cars have already been driven more than 36,575 miles, translating directly to a lower carbon footprint, reduced emissions, and less wear and tear on City streets.
|Corner Cars Environmental Performance Indicators*|
|Number of Miles NOT Driven (VMT)||74,776|
|Gallons of Gas NOT consumed||3,797|
|Total Amount NOT Spent on Gas||$10,214|
|Total Barrels of Oil NOT Consumed||205|
|Total CO2 Emissions Reduced (Tons)||30|
|*Methodology based on Econsult Corporation’s 2010 Report, “The Economic and Environmental Impact of PhillyCarShare in the Philadelphia Region”|
New Corner Cars members who use the code “hoboken” get $75 in free driving credits when they sign-up at www.connectbyhertz.com, and there is no annual membership fee to join. In October, the Utility began its complementary �Surrender Your Permit� campaign, which has already resulted in 60 residents choosing to get rid of their cars thanks in part to the availability of Corner Cars.
�Residents come in and we help them with all the rewards and benefits they get for surrendering their permit,� said Customer Service Representative Michelle Ippolito.
The Corner Cars program comes at no cost to the City; in fact, the vendor who manages the vehicles pays the City $100 per space every month. This new amenity not only makes parking easier for everyone, it adds more than $50,000 per year to the Utility’s revenue ledger.
Multi-Space Meters are Self-Auditing and Increase Revenue by more than 40%
The new multi-space parking meters along Washington Street are a first phase pilot of new technology that dramatically improves auditing and accountability, but has somehow never found its way to Hoboken. During the six weeks evaluation period, these new meters not only resulted in to-the-penny auditing reports between meters and deposit slips, they also resulted in an increase in revenue of well over 40 percent.
Based on these results, the Utility is anticipating to realize more than $500,000 in additional revenue from parking meters without building a single new parking space. In 2011, HPU will request that the City Council approve a bond financing the cost of replacing all other eligible parking meters throughout the City to expand the technology city-wide.
|Washington Street Multi-Space Parking Meter Pilot Study
(8/27/10 to 10/20/10)
|West Side Total Revenue (Standard Meters)||$39,382|
|East Side Total Revenue (Multi-Space Meters)||$56,646|
Energy Efficiency Reduces Power Bills
Mayor Zimmer�s incoming administration capitalized immediately on the energy efficiency audit that was completed in the Fall 2009. As soon as the report hit the Mayor�s desk, she forwarded it to PSE&G to qualify Hoboken as one of the first cities in New Jersey to enjoy a retrofit of lighting and HVAC systems. HPU participated in this process by securing funding for the retrofit of municipal parking garage lighting. In addition to the improved visibility and aesthetics of the “white” lights, the anticipated savings in energy is estimated at over $100,000 each year.
Waiting Lists in City Garages Almost Gone
Another dramatic change to the way the Utility is operated is the near-elimination of waiting lists for garage spaces that have frustrated thousands of residents for years.
�When I started, the waiting list for the Midtown garage was more than three years long with hundreds of people in limbo; residents were forced to lease in Garage B at a higher rate in order to �qualify� for a space in the other Hudson Street garages,� said Director Sacs.
Now, there are only a handful of people waiting for the Midtown garage, and that wait is measured in a few months time rather than many years. On Hudson Street, residents can choose to wait for a specific garage without being required to park in Garage B first, although there is currently no waiting list in two of the three garages.
�When residents call up asking about availability, it�s a joy to tell them that we have a space for them in the garage,� said Customer Service Representative Sylvia Braxton.
As the Utility expands enforcement hours and takes on more responsibilities, staffing levels will correspondingly increase. However, an increase in parking enforcement does not equal a net increase in City costs or taxes. In fact, additional PEO�s that are properly managed result in a net reduction in overall City costs since PEO�s typically issue parking summons well in excess of their annual salaries by their fifth month of service. In this way, parking enforcement is a unique operation, and additional staffing can be maintained in a revenue-positive way with no tax impact on residents. This concept is easily translated to overall concerns about overtime (OT) as well. While the Utility conducts its search for new PEO�s, current employees that work OT are closely monitored to ensure that revenue associated with enforcement exceeds OT costs.
�There may be misunderstandings about this issue, but it’s important for residents to understand the numbers behind overtime,� said Director Sacs. �In fact, for every hour the Utility pays out in OT, we�re generating nearly double that in summonses issued by parking enforcement officers. These employees more than pay for themselves, even when they collect OT.�
The “Hop” Community Shuttle Buses See Record Ridership Levels and Increasing Popularity
Although the City’s Hop shuttle bus system has hit some start-up bumps in the road, overall ridership is growing steadily and the program’s services continue to make the system more attractive for a wider spectrum of Hoboken residents. In addition to the increasing number of residents who have been riding The Hop, educational programs and condo boards have been signing up to regularly use the system as an alternative to costly private services. Ridership has grown steadily this year to more than 35,000 passengers served in 2010.
This year, The Hop debuted several features that have made use of the community shuttle system much easier, including phone, text, and internet based GPS tracking, clean full color user maps and guides, and regular updates on system status and location.
�I am particularly proud of how we�ve been able to address senior concerns while also expanding overall operations to serve a broader group of residents,� said Director Sacs. �The Hop is a staple of life in Hoboken and makes getting around town without a car much, much easier.�
Residents can track the Hop shuttle locations in real-time by calling 201-293-8958, on the Hop website at http://hobokennj.org/thehop or by texting �bus redhop�, �bus bluehop�, or �bus greenhop� to 41411 from their cell phone. The Hop tracking page is one of the most viewed pages on the City website, with about 30,000 page views to date, while the text message service receives nearly 60,000 requests every month.
Bicycle Facilities Get A Big Boost
The City has taken major strides towards making Hoboken much more bicycle friendly, including installation of bike racks to double the number of bicycle parking locations, the addition of more bicycle lanes, and the completion of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Master Plan. Bicycle parking around Hoboken Terminal has been significantly expanded, and with a tandem focus on lowering motor vehicle speeds in the City, bicycle riding is becoming one of the most popular ways to get around Hoboken, even in the colder months.� Bicycle parking capacity increased by 140 during 2010, including 48 more bike parking spaces around Hoboken Terminal. Hoboken also received an honorable mention from the League of American Cyclists in their Fall 2010 Bicycle Friendly Communities listing — only the second municipality in New Jersey with the distinction.
Pedestrian Safety Focus is #1
Did you know that Hoboken is the first city in the United States to adopt a “Twenty is Plenty” speeding policy and was recognized as such in the United Kingdom’s “The Telegraph” daily newspaper?
Much work has been done to improve pedestrian safety in Hoboken. From smaller improvements such as the replacement of pedestrian ramps at intersection corners with better landings, to major location-specific projects, such as the reconstruction of the sidewalk along Hudson Place near Hoboken Terminal, to low-cost safety improvements of areas in Southwest Hoboken and along 15th Street, the City has leveraged available funds in the most efficient manner to continue to make walking the most attractive way to get around our little town. At some locations, intersections are being retrofitted with �daylighting� poles and, where applicable, all-way stop signs to shift the priority from fast-moving cars to a safer pedestrian environment. During 2010, daylighting poles were installed at an additional 38 intersections throughout the City.
With Director Sacs’ expertise as a Transportation Engineer, the Parking Utility is more quickly and cost-effectively able to respond to pedestrian safety concerns which would normally require the support of the City engineer or a specialized consultant.
�We�re installing daylighting poles and �Stop for Pedestrian� signs as quickly as we get orders in,� said Traffic & Signals Division Head Joe Bucino.
Moreover, parking enforcement for pedestrian safety issues, such as parking in and near crosswalks or bus stops, has increased dramatically as Mayor Zimmer has focused the City’s resources on these extremely important quality of life issues.
Taxi Services and Enforcement Making Gains
While the behavior and control of taxis and limos continues to be a challenging area for residents and officials alike, when the Department of Transportation and Parking assumed responsibility for this division earlier this year, enforcement operations spiked and overall management has become more transparent and better communicated to residents. An improved disciplinary system has been put in place for errant drivers, and owners are now also held accountable when their drivers are disobeying city rules and regulations.
�Just email email@example.com or call in a complaint with the car number, date, and time of day and we will act on it immediately,� said Jennifer Boehm in the Division of Taxis and Limousines.
In addition, the number of illegal taxi and black car operations has dropped considerably as Hoboken acquires a reputation as a �Don�t try it there� community within the non-licensed livery industry.
Customer Service Does a �180�
Although getting a parking permit is still not the easiest process, Customer Service Representatives (CSR) have worked diligently this year assisting residents in understanding updated rules and helping them through the process. Not only does every CSR abide by a service pledge posted at each window, but communications have dramatically improved as well. Phones are answered much faster, the Utility now has a working and well managed inquiry email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, and the content for parking information on the city’s website has increased tenfold. In fact, the parking pages receive more then 15% of all traffic that comes to the City’s website.
The Department of Transportation and Parking is expanding its outreach and communications methods to assist residents in learning about changes and improvements by regular press releases and periodic advertisements in local newspapers, as well as the first ever “informational intermission” slides that run between airings of City Council meetings on Channel 78. A new robocall system is being used to contact thousands of permit holders by phone during emergencies.
“We’ve been looking for all ways possible to get the word out to the community that major changes for the better are happening at the Parking Utility. We want everyone to know about them,” said Communications Manager Juan Melli.
Collaboration With Professional Volunteers and Higher Education
Regardless of the budget situation, there has been a strong need to focus resources on fixing many of the problems that have plagued the Parking Utility for years. Since the heavy tax burden on residents made it impractical to expect these resources to come from an increased budget, the Parking Utility has looked to other sources for assistance. Since Mayor Zimmer’s administration began last year, a long list of student and professional volunteers have lent a hand to making Hoboken – and particularly the Hoboken Parking Utility – better. Early this year the Department of Transportation and Parking received generous contributions from a local graphic artist who redesigned The Hop community shuttle bus logo, as well as a recent graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology graduate who developed the basic functionality of The Hop on-board GPS tracking system. At the moment, local volunteers are assisting with designing a city-wide wayfinding signage plan that will make it easier for visitors to find their way around the City and to parking facilities.
This past fall, several Stevens project teams have been studying and reporting their findings on a range of Utility projects for senior design projects, including modernizing the Parking Utility’s Point-of-Sale database, optimizing shuttle bus operations, and improving bicycle facilities. Additionally, the Department of Transportation and Parking is currently working with more than 20 volunteers from around the world on a larger spectrum of transportation planning and engineering projects thanks to relationships and outreach with the professional transportation planning community. In total, the City of Hoboken is currently enjoying the assistance and support of more than 50 students and professionals with strong technical knowledge and problem-solving capabilities at absolutely no cost.
Hoboken Recognized For Innovative Parking Solutions
As you may have read, Hoboken has received a lot of attention this year from the parking and transportation industry. Not only have our innovative solutions been featured in more than a dozen publications, including the New York Times, the New Jersey League of Municipalities Magazine, the Discover Channel’s Planet Green and University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Journal, we have been invited to speak at several conferences and meetings to spread the knowledge about what we’re doing and how it works. In fact, the Hoboken Department of Transportation and Parking has been asked to share its “Corner Cars” and “Surrender Your Permit” program information with three other major cities across the country, potentially reaching 2 million residents. So not only is Hoboken sorting through its own problems, our City’s successes are serving as a model for others and being shared with other cities, thereby contributing to the overall improvement of urban transportation and parking conditions nationwide.
In addition to everything noted previously, there have been other notable quality of life improvements resulting from the department�s efforts, including the completion of Phase I of the Hudson Place sidewalk expansion, completion of the City Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, purchase of a larger shuttle bus to address limited capacity and back-up needs, and implementation of a dial-in notification of the Hop shuttle buses.
Despite all this great news, the Utility is not stopping there. Major announcements are coming up, including improvements to the temporary no parking sign system, online permit renewals, additional parking options, and continuous improvements to the many new programs offered to residents of Hoboken.
Director Sacs acknowledged that the progress is just a milestone: �We’re trying every day to respond to the myriad concerns raised by residents. We�ve come a long way, but we�ve still got a lot of work to do.�