Texas Medical Center (TMC), Houston, recently completed major upgrades to its parking facilities, replacing decades-old technology to help streamline access, improve mobility and reduce congestion for the 10 million patients, visitors, staff and students who drive to the center each year.
The 1,400-acre TMC hosts 21 hospitals, four medical schools and six nursing schools. Along with being the largest medical campus in the world, it follows logic that it would also boast the largest parking facility in North America. TMC has 30,000 parking spaces spread across 19 garages and 20 surface lots.
Shawn W. Cloonan, chief operating officer of TMC, says the upgrades to its parking technology were necessary to match the center’s commitment to excellence in all of its operations.
“The Texas Medical Center is synonymous with world-class, innovative care and research, so it was imperative for us to partner with providers that would deliver equally innovative solutions to address our parking and mobility needs,” he says.
It partnered with operator LAZ Parking, which, in turn, brought parking and mobility solutions company FlashParking on board to help bring the technology in its facilities up to par.
The rip-and-replace upgrades took only 44 days to complete, with more than half of those working days taking place at night to minimize disruption.
The project included installation of 200 entry and exit kiosks, 47 pay-on-foot kiosks and 30 cash recycling machines. It also included upgrading the existing fiber network to handle the updated technology. Support calls have dropped 61 percent since the new system was installed.
Previous to the upgrades, visitors would receive a token upon entering a parking structure that they then carried with them throughout their visit. The system often resulted in confusion with other coins and lost tokens.
The new system eliminates the need for tokens and replaces it with touchscreen technology similar to what one would see in an airport. Visitors can enter and exit the parking structures in whichever way is most convenient to them: by either requesting a traditional parking ticket, using their credit card as the parking ticket or keying in their phone number. The system also can be accessed through a mobile app.
TMC planned to stage parking ambassadors next to kiosks for one month to help users navigate the new system. Juan Rodriguez, CEO of FlashParking, says the ambassadors were pulled after one day once it was evident that users didn’t need much assistance navigating the new parking system.
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