A new voice-activated payment method was introduced for parking in Moscow this summer. In addition, people whose car has been towed for a parking violation can now pay for the towing after getting their car back, rather than before. In an interview with mos.ru Alexander Grivnyak, head of the Moscow Parking Administrator, shared his insight into these new services and their popularity among Moscow residents.
The Moscow Parking Administrator also intends to equip its patrol inspectors with video cameras, create more parking spaces near the Moscow Central Ring stations and launch a project to enable drivers to use Troika cards when paying at parking facilities with access gates.
— Mr Grivnyak, voice-activated payment for parking was launched recently. Could you tell us how many people have already used this method?
— The pay by voice service was launched on 1 August and has already been used over four thousand times, with more to come. People are just getting to know this new service and need time to get used to it. For that reason, it is too early to speak about any kind of stable demand for pay by voice services in this segment. Drivers are testing this option, some like it, and they stick with it, while others opt for tried and tested payment methods. In addition, we are still in vacation season, so many drivers are currently out of the city.
To pay by voice, a driver calls the Moscow Transport hotline using the short number 3210 or the city line +7 (495) 539-54-54 and tells the representative the number of the parking zone, the desired duration of parking and the car’s license plate number. The payment is debited to your account in the parking system or your cell phone account.
We monitor statistics on the use of this service on a daily basis to make sure that everything is working well. Our goal is to offer Moscow residents the most consumer-friendly parking payment services. We will continue studying international practices in this area and new trends and changes, and provide opportunities for Moscow drivers to test all the new and best solutions.
— Does this mean that the pay by voice is currently in test mode?
— As we speak, the pay by voice service is fully operational as part of the experiment. We will decide whether to keep it at the end of the year. Until then, we will be monitoring customer satisfaction, the number of transactions and the demand for pay by voice services among Moscow residents.
The mobile app is the most popular way to pay for parking among Moscow drivers
— There were complaints in social media that it takes too much time to pay by voice: the system is unable to recognise the voice right away, so people have to repeat everything over and over again. Why is there such a problem and will it be addressed?
— Of course, we test all the products before making them available to the public. I personally test every service. In addition, the internal quality control department monitors the performance of our systems on a daily basis. Let’s say there is one failure per 100 calls, when the system is unable to recognise the speaker’s voice. This is possible, since there can be glitches when a new system is launched, but they should be fixed promptly. Sometimes users make mistakes too. For example, several people turn on the speakerphone and try to enter the car’s licence plate number by voice. If you speak all the words clearly and don’t say anything more than necessary, the service works flawlessly. People can report their complaints and submit feedback in the Inquiries and Requests section of transport.mos.ru or by using the city unified call centre +7 (495) 539-54-54. So far we have not received any complaints about the quality of pay by voice.
– What are the most popular methods to pay for parking among Moscow residents?
— The mobile app is the main payment method for drivers. Some 75 percent of Moscow residents use it to pay for parking. The mobile app is a very convenient option that offers per-second billing. Some 20 percent of drivers use SMS messages, and the remaining rely on parking metres.
— Will there be any new options when using the parking metre? When will it be possible to pay for parking using a Troika card?
— We will try to introduce Troika payments in car parks with access gates. Our goal is to make Troika a universal card that could be used to pay for all transport services, including parking.
— Eight single-level subscription car parks opened in Moscow on 1 July. How popular are they with car owners?
— It’s been only a month since they opened, but we are already seeing increased demand for subscription parking. For example, the occupancy of a car park on Plekhanova Street (Eastern Administrative Area) has increased from 46 to 84 percent, on Bolotnaya Street (Central Administrative Area) from seven to 23 percent. Spaces in certain car parks, such as on Michyurinsky Prospekt, Krasnostudenchesky Proyezd and Khoroshovskoye Motorway, are sold out. I’m confident that all the subscription car parks will be sold out shortly.
— Who is in charge of order and enforcing payment at these car parks?
— The land parcels under the parking have been transferred to the Moscow Parking Administrator, so everything related to administration, cleanliness, and security is our area of responsibility.
— How many more single-level subscription car parks will become available before the end of 2016?
— The comprehensive list of new car parks, which should become available before the end of 2016, is not yet available. People come up with proposals, we study them, and review areas that can be used as car parks. There aren’t too many spots in Moscow that can be used for building a car park, which would be okayed by local residents and meet all technical requirements. We are working hard to build more such car parks in the near future.
— Residents of which administrative areas ask most often to build a single-level parking with a boom gate?
— We get such requests from all administrative areas, so, depending on the availability of suitable land plots, we work on this issue across Moscow. There are subscription car parks in the Central, Western, Northern, Eastern and Southeastern administrative areas.
— Differentiated parking rates are charged on 75 Moscow streets. Why?
— We want to create the most favourable conditions for motorists so that they can easily find a vacant parking space in central Moscow. So, we have introduced differentiated parking rates in places where the rotation of vehicles in a parking garage is high, and where traffic is heavy.
Every week, we publish and scrutinise data on the utilisation of parking spaces in central Moscow. Our analysis shows that streets within the Boulevard Ring, such as Kuznetsky Most and Bolshaya Dmitrovka streets, or Nizhny Kiselny Pereulok, where differentiated parking rates are charged, the parking garages are almost full at all times.
— Will parking still be free on Sundays?
— Free Sunday parking was an informed decision. As you may recall, originally, free parking on Sundays and public holidays was an experiment. We regularly monitored traffic and studied parking patterns on Sundays and during holidays. Traffic becomes lighter on such days, so free parking did not worsen traffic. In addition, since the start of the project, we have received massive positive feedback from citizens, so we decided to keep this feature.
— The Moscow Central Circle (MCC) will open in September. Accordingly, we will have to deal with car parks next to the train stops. What has been done in this area?
MCC is a unique, complex, and major project. We are also involved in this work: the Moscow Parking Administrator is building car parks outside the MCC stations, both in adjacent streets and outside the MCC stations. Currently, we are working on arranging parking spaces outside seven MCC stations.
There are noticeably fewer traffic violations in Moscow. I think that motorists are becoming increasingly more polite and respectful.
— How many tow trucks are there in Moscow?
— There are 170 tow trucks operated by the Moscow Parking Administrator, which are used to tow cars, and 150 privately owned tow trucks. We assist the Emergencies Ministry services and traffic police, so we will purchase an additional five tow trucks to transport bulky cargo in emergency situations.
— Are there any plans to expand the fleet of tow trucks used for towing cars?
— There are no such plans. We have tow trucks with optional partial loading and unloading for operating in narrow streets. I’m referring to the streets where a tow truck cannot park next to a car, side by side. The existing fleet is sufficient to effectively deal with traffic violators.
— During the first six months of 2016, the number of towed cars fell by 11 percent. Why?
— Clearly, drivers are doing their best to observe traffic rules. I think that motorists are becoming increasingly aware of the need to follow the rules, and they are becoming more polite and respectful. We welcome this, because our goal is not to tow as many vehicles as we can, but to create a comfortable and safe environment in our city. Therefore, the fewer violations, the more entitled we will be to believe that we are doing our job properly. Traffic police data showing fewer accidents and traffic violations confirm our statistics.
— Vehicles operated by the Traffic Management Centre monitor compliance with traffic rules. How many Moscow Parking Administrator patrol inspectors are involved in this work?
— Our department has 175 employees, including managers and dispatchers. Of them, about 140 monitor Moscow traffic on a daily basis.
— Inspectors of the Moscow Administrative Road Inspection Office who also monitor traffic in Moscow were issued portable video recorders. Will the Moscow Parking Administrator inspectors also be equipped with similar devices?
— Yes, we also plan to issue video recorders to our employees. This is part of our overall effort to both assess the quality of work of our employees and have immediate access to all the necessary information.
— Since late July, motorists have been able to pay towing fees after they recover their vehicles from the lot. How popular is that option?
— As far as we know, about 85 percent of motorists pay on the spot at a 25 percent discount, and only 15 percent drive away without paying first.
— How do you enforce payment by the remaining 15 percent?
— If they fail to pay within 60 days, we will have to recover the cost of towing and storage through the courts. The debtor will be liable for all the costs, including court fees. However, we count on car owners to exercise good judgement, especially since they get a discount if they pay without delay. This will encourage car owners to pay before they recover their vehicle.