Bend’s downtown Centennial Parking Garage gets new pay-to-exit system, aims to prevent people from not paying
'It was a stupid system before -- it didn't work great,' city parking manager says
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend's downtown Centennial Parking Garage and Plaza is getting an upgrade on how the public pays for parking spots -- and how the city catches people who don't.
City Parking Services Division Manager Tobias Marx said the old system just wasn't working, and costing the city money.
"It was a stupid system before -- it didn't work great, and we want to admit that," Marx said Tuesday.
The Centennial Garage in downtown Bend has been a source of scrutiny due to lack of spaces, the cost of parking and damage to the exit gate when drivers try to avoid paying. Every time a person causes damage to the gates, it costs the city up to $1,000 to repair -- and Marx says repairs are often needed daily.
"The reality is, we have security cameras, we file a police report, issue citations for non-payments, and police have caught up to those people that did that, and there are cases that are prosecuted against them" Marx said.
The Centennial Garage has a brand new touchless system that cost the city $6,000 to implement, and its something Marx is eager to use.
"We made the judgment call at the end of 2022 to upgrade the system, to offer a payment to exit, and create a touchless, frictionless experience for our parkers," Marx explained.
With the updates, you don't have to take a ticket when you enter -- you just pay when you leave.
"You drive up, if you have a license plate in front of your car, you push the button that scans your plate," Marx said. "When you exit, you do the same thing, you pay at the exit. It takes five seconds for your credit card to be ran, gate opens, and you exit. It should be much easier to use the gate than before."
Marx believes the upgrade will make it more difficult to avoid paying -- and if drivers do, they'll be easier to track down.
So far, he said, "We think it's working really great, and I hope people see that in the next couple of weeks."
The garage has 547 parking spaces and was built in 2006, and a new access gate was added in 2021.
The money from the parking structure is part of an enterprise fund, meaning the revenue goes right back to maintaining and upgrading the garage.