Mayor Anthony Williams

Outstanding Achievement Award
The City of Washington, D.C. and Lockheed Martin IMS Parking Meter Management Program

Washington, D.C.'s parking meter operation, once considered one of the nation's best, fell victim to vandalism. During 1996 and 1997, it experienced nearly 70 percent inoperable on-street meters and a reduction of revenues from more than $1 million per month to $196,000 per month by February 1998. Faced with this intractable and growing problem, District officials partnered with Lockheed Martin IMS (IMS) to design a program that would quickly restore the on-street meter inventory and all financial benefits and improve the overall delivery of parking services. With more than 15,000 parking meters serving a daytime population of more than 1.4 million people, this project represents the first large-scale effort of its kind.

In mid-March 1998, IMS began the installation of high technology, high security meters throughout the District. During the seven-year, seven-month term of this relationship, IMS is responsible for program management, system security, planning and analysis, equipment purchase, installation, maintenance, and coin collection and counting. Using electronic hand-held computers, IMS performs fiscal accounting and operational auditing of maintenance and collections. In addition to contract administration, the District remains responsible for regulating spaces, determining hours of operations and meter rates, and establishing all parking policies for handicap and special events.

On August 19, 1998, IMS completed the installation of 15,000 new electronic parking meters. The meters were installed in only five months two months earlier than expected. Since that time, IMS has kept 99.5 percent of these meters operational, resulting in a 450 percent increase in collections. From March to September 1998, IMS collected more than $5.4 million for the City. With all 15,000 meters now operational, monthly meter revenue has reached $1 million.

Among the benefits to the District provided by the new IMS program:

  • replacement of 40-year-old mechanical meters with electronic, high security equipment;
  • avoidance of major capital expenditures;
  • guaranteed increases in meter revenues;
  • reduced operating costs; and
  • improved customer service.

The District's new electronic meters:

  • generate fewer complaints due to accurate quartz timing mechanisms;
  • lessen the frequency of coin jams, thereby lowering maintenance costs;
  • accommodate several types of coins;
  • screen for foreign coins and slugs;
  • accept smart cards as an alternative method of payment;
  • automate revenue and maintenance information from hand-held computers; and
  • can easily change meter rates or hours of operation from hand-held computers.

The District's meter operation represents a true public/private partnership. While maintaining control of the elements central to parking management regulation and policy decisions, the District has creatively used the capital resources and operational expertise of its private sector partner to restore a program to its former world-class status. Although no two jurisdictions are identical, the success of this innovative partnership provides a model other medium-size and large cities can use to finance capital acquisitions and improve the delivery of municipal operations.