O’Hare getting $14 million in parking-payment upgrades
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter September 18, 2013 9:42PM
Updated: October 20, 2013 7:35AM
The days of circling in search of an open parking space at O’Hare Airport are coming to an end — even on the busiest travel days — thanks to a $14 million technology upgrade in the works.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has chosen Massachusetts-based Schedit & Bachmann to install a new “parking access and revenue control” system at O’Hare that will revolutionize the way motorists find and pay for parking.
The upgrades to a 17-year-old system light-years behind available technology will allow motorists to reserve a parking spot and pre-pay for it on their home computers, then print the bar-coded parking ticket before driving to the airport.
Mobile applications will allow motorists to use their cellphones to do the same. It’ll work like a mobile boarding pass. Just call up the paid parking ticket and scan the phone as you drive into and out of the parking garage.
The $14 million contract will also include some more basic improvements.
No longer will motorists have to wait in line to pay attendants during peak travel times at toll booth-style exit lanes. Instead, they’ll “pay-on-foot” before retrieving their vehicles and insert the paid ticket into a machine as they leave. New ticket machines will be installed.
Those who want to avoid paper tickets altogether will be able to use their credit cards to swipe in and out of the lot. The card will automatically be charged the appropriate parking fee.
Scheidt & Bachmann will also be required to “maintain a space-count inventory for each lot and level of the main garage” and install a “mobile license-plate recognition system” to “capture plate images upon entry and exit” for storage in a database.
That system will be used to calculate parking fees for motorists who lose their tickets, eliminating the need for a penalty. It’ll also locate lost vehicles and help city crews find vehicles owned by scofflaws so the Denver boot can be applied.
The same software will be used to identify frequent parkers and offer them discounts for parking at O’Hare four times a month.
O’Hare has 25,000 spaces, including 9,266 in the main garage. There are three surface lots adjacent to the terminal buildings and three long-term surface lots. Together, they provided 3.4 million “paid exits” in 2010. The 23 entry and 35 exit lanes handle 20,000 transactions each day.
The new economy parking garage being built at the southeast corner of Mannheim and Zemke — to be shared by 4,100 rental car spaces and 2,000 public parking spaces — will increase O’Hare’s parking inventory.
It’s part of an $800 million plan to double the capacity of the O’Hare people mover system — and extend it to a rental car campus complete with an intermodal facility tailor-made to ease roadway congestion.
Officials at Scheidt and Bachmann could not be reached.
The parking technology improvements are expected to take 12 to 18 months to install. Many of them are only available at airports in Europe, including Manchester and Brussels.
Last spring, Scheidt & Bachmann was awarded a fare collection contract for a bus rapid transit system in Fort Collins, Co. The company has also been providing fare collection technology for Denver’s light rail system for a decade.
The company has even partnered with Audi on a “wireless payment” technology that allows parkers who register online to activate a transponder available to Audi employees who lease a new vehicle.
The transponder is attached to the windshield. Its “radio frequency identification tag” causes the gates to open when driving into and out of parking facilities. At the end of the month, the customer receives a parking bill and the amount is deducted from the user’s account, according to the company’s website.