New vendor will modernize parking, update tech at R.I. surf beaches

LAZ PARKING has been selected by the R.I. Department of Environmental Management to manage parking at state surf beaches this summer following a competitive bidding process. / COURTESY R.I. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT

PROVIDENCE – With a competitive bidding process wrapping up, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management has announced the selection of LAZ Parking to manage parking at state surf beaches this summer.

Based in Hartford, Conn., LAZ will introduce new technology that will speed up traffic at entrances, broaden online purchasing and track revenue in real time, according to a news release from DEM. The company, with more than 3,100 locations in the United States, manages more than 1.2 million parking spaces. Its clients include T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Providence Place mall, and the city of Newport for its parking meter system.

DEM Director Janet Coit calls LAZ Parking’s involvement “a great leap ahead in terms of improving traffic flow, improving the customer experience and maximizing beach parking revenue. We will be monitoring the delivery and results closely,” she said in a statement.

According to the agency, customers can now buy both day and season online passes in advance. Express lanes using license plate recognition technology will be offered for prepaid customers at some locations. DEM can use real-time parking lot capacity data to communicate alerts when lots are at or near capacity, with the ability to also capture visitation and revenue numbers to ensure the correct fees are being collected.

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In a statement, Coit noted that state beaches are one of Rhode Island’s biggest tourist attractions, generating more than $115 million in spending every year.

Overall, DEM reports that it received proposals from eight vendors. Four bids made it through for consideration by a six-member panel of DEM parks staff and administrators, with LAZ receiving the highest overall score.

Under the terms of the three-year contract, LAZ Parking will invest more than $580,000 in capital at the start of the contract and receive an annual flat-rate management fee of $872,536 in 2020, $989,531 in 2021, and $925,826 in 2022. LAZ also will receive a 35-cent-per-vehicle transaction fee for vehicles that enter during normal business hours.

Admission costs to state beaches will remain the same in 2020. Seniors pay reduced fees. Fees are only charged to park a vehicle, said DEM – to walk or bicycle there is free.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.

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