Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Member News: Pittsburgh Brings Additional Convenience To Parkers With Flowbird App


Pittsburgh Brings Additional Convenience To Parkers With Flowbird App

“Steel City” expands touchless payment options this Spring

Moorestown, NJ —  The Pittsburgh Parking Authority has announced the launch of the Flowbird app to  make it easier for motorists to find and pay for parking downtown.  At a time when touchless payments are increasingly popular, the Flowbird App offers peace-of-mind for both the City of Pittsburgh and its drivers.

The City of Pittsburgh is no stranger to innovation, known in the parking industry as the first major city in the country to make the change to Pay-by-Plate in 2012 with Flowbird’s elite smart parking kiosks. Now, in its 9th year of their contract with Flowbird, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority (PPA) takes the next step by adding Flowbird’s mobile parking application as a quick and convenient payment option. The app allows users to pay for parking from their mobile devices, receive text notifications when time is about to expire and extend their time without having to run to a meter.

Designed as a true mobility app, the Flowbird app features a map-based user interface, integrated with Waze and other navigation systems to guide users to their preferred parking location.  The GPS enabled map also allows users to select their parking location without manually inputting a zone code.

Setting up an account is quick and simple after the app is downloaded to a mobile device from the App Store or Google Play Store.  Accounts can be set up for individual motorists or for businesses to manage their fleets.

“It’s all about expanding touchless payment options and giving users more choices,” said David Onorato, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

The PPA will benefit from Flowbird’s powerful data hub. All parking activity information from Flowbird pay stations, the Flowbird mobile app, and 3rd party mobile apps are aggregated into Flowbird’s back-office system to allow Parking Authority staff to have a global view of all parking activity.

The Flowbird system is integrated with the Authority’s Gtechna citation issuance solution for fast, effective enforcement based on the motorists’ license plates.

The PPA will still continue to offer payments by credit card or coin at over 1,000 Flowbird parking kiosks throughout the Downtown area for non-app users.

The Flowbird app will be available this Spring, according to the PPA. Promotional stickers, printed and supplied by Flowbird, will be installed on all parking kiosks to inform motorists about the new app and corresponding zone numbers.

The City of Pittsburgh joins many other cities across the country utilizing the Flowbird app, including Atlanta, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Tacoma, and Virginia Beach.  The Flowbird app is now available in over 100 parking locations across the United States, and the company’s mobile applications generate over 50 million transactions per year.  For more information, please visit www.flowbirdapp.com.

Flowbird US Media Contact: Sean Renn – Vice President of Marketing & Communications, 856-220-1577, sean.renn@flowbird.group

Pittsburgh Welcomes Spring with a Flea Market in a Parking Garage

Man in mask and rubber gloves putting products in car after shoppingThere’s a special kind of demand for outdoor activities and a feeling of normal this spring, including the return of flea markets. But when dicey weather, a need for social distancing, and a desire to include those who both drive and walk all come into play, what’s a city to do? In Pittsburgh, it’s all coming together to give new meaning to the phrase “garage sale,” offering a great new example of how parking organizations have flexed to help their communities in unprecedented situations.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership will host a 75-vendor “Car Bazaar” flea market inside a downtown parking garage on Saturdays this spring, checking all the boxes: plenty of room, inclusive of all, lots of fresh air, and protection from possible spring showers. So far, the community is more than receptive–the first Saturday’s event already has a wait list of 50+ hopeful vendors, many of whom say they’ve been unable to participate in markets since the pandemic’s arrival a year ago.

Vendor spaces sell for $15 and are reserved in advance, and the garage’s downtown location offers plenty of room for those who drive to the event and easy access for those who walk. Live music, food vendors, great diversity in vendors and merchandise, and what organizers hope will be a light, festive atmosphere will give a great vibe to the garage all spring. Read all about it here.

Valuable Lessons from Accreditation

Accredited Parking Organization logoBy David G. Onorato, CAPP

With its 2017 recognition as an IPMI Accredited Parking Organization (APO), the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh became one of just a few initial municipal providers to achieve APO status. Awarded with distinction, the designation affirmed the effectiveness of the agency’s aggressive adoption of the most recent advances in both technological and operational equipment. We view our success in meeting Accreditation standards for the 2020-23 cycle, received with distinction, as strengthening our position as a leading international supplier of public parking services.

The Authority’s management team credits adherence to IPMI’s principal measurement criteria for much of its organization’s progress, both administratively and in the field. Our increased attention to mobility, for example, coincides with IPMI’s inclusion of that function in its name.  With former curbside spaces being converted solely for bicycle use and new installations of EV charging stations, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to adapt to changing market needs. Concurrently, activities involving Authority patrons, once awash in cash, are now increasingly cashless and paperless.

No current description of parking operations, in Pittsburgh or virtually anywhere, can ignore the persistent threat of COVID-19. Among its negative effects, the pandemic has triggered revenue declines, assignment reconfigurations, and even reductions in staff. In each instance, we feel the actions required were accomplished with less difficulty because of our employee team’s greater awareness of data points targeted by the Accreditation process. Going through its sequenced steps–for most, their second time–enabled our people to become more familiar with their organization’s function, its sources of income, and, perhaps most importantly, its financial obligations. Their collective response to management’s necessary actions regarding the pandemic’s presence was, to some degree, shaped by their Accreditation experience.

David G. Onorato, CAPP, is executive director of the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh’s Downtown Housing Parking Lease Program

Bridge going into PIttsburghBy William R. Conner, CAPP

In 1998, the City of Pittsburgh, Pa., introduced a 10-year revitalization plan known as The Pittsburgh Downtown Plan, for the central business district. The plan identified several issues in the downtown area that required addressing; the goal was to expand the downtown life to that of an 18- to 24-hour city while continuing to expand business and development. The plan identified issues that may prevent the rejuvenation of the downtown and the ability to expand downtown life. Those issues included a retail corridor and entertainment area lacking patrons, a negligible residential population, a shortage of adequate parking space, and traffic flow.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority introduced a resolution to establish special leases and permits when possible to make parking available for downtown residents and give property developers the opportunity to secure space in designated garages. The resolution known as the Downtown Leasing Program initially offered a maximum of 50 spaces per year that granted 24-hour parking access for new housing units for $100 per month.

Today, the program averages about 350 leases per month at a reduced rate. The reduced rate is the percentage of parking tax paid to the city and the maximum has been eliminated. So if space is available and you are a downtown resident, it is yours. To qualify, a potential lessee must present an executed lease agreement from the leasing agent, a copy of their current driver’s license, and the first month’s payment.

William  R. Conner, CAPP, is assistant director, parking services, with the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh.

Looking Forward

Like so many industry professionals, David Onorato, CAPP, sort of fell into parking. “It was by luck,” he says. “I was working with the [Pittsburgh] city finance department and there was an opening in the parking authority. I was asked if I wanted to move there and I said yes. It’s parking–how hard can it be, right? Little did I know.”

Since that move in 1995, Onorato has built a reputation as an industry leader, and his parking authority has been credited with helping transform Pittsburgh’s reputation from steel town to technology leader, tourist destination, and popular place to live and work. He became chair of IPMI’s Board of Directors in June and in this month’s Parking & Mobility magazine, shares his thoughts on the industry, where IPMI is going, and his beloved hometown–with suggestions for attendees of this year’s Leadership Summit in the middle of it all. Read it here.