Bermuda's EasyPark hits major milestone
By Marcia Breen
It's the company that brought smart card technology to the streets of Hamilton, sparing us all from having to dig deep to the bottom of our pockets and purses to scrounge up enough change to pay for parking.
Now, EasyPark Bermuda, the local company that launched those little yellow devices, has hit a major milestone - growing its customer based tenfold since it launched in 2009. EasyPark Bermuda's general manager, Danny Faria says he's proud of the company's success.
"At the end of 2009, we had about 2,000 devices in circulation and over the last month or so, we hit the 20,000 mark, so it's a pretty significant milestone for us and we're pretty excited about it," Mr Faria said.
The milestone is particularly significant considering there are just over 30,000 private and commercial vehicles registered in Bermuda.
EasyPark is small, rectangular gadget with a digital screen that drivers can display in their car window instead of plunking coins into a machine for a parking voucher.
They can be used in all streets and parking lots in the City of Hamilton as well as at LF Wade International Airport for short and long-term parking.
Users just switch on the device, select which area or zone they are in and hook it over the top of the car widow closest to the curb. When they come back to the car, they can hit the off switch - allowing them to pay only for the time they spent parked in the spot.
The units sell for $39.50 and can be topped up to a maximum value of $100 at a number of merchants Island-wide.
Mr Faria says while the devices have been around a while, they still get a lot of the same questions about them and users seem to be unaware of a lot of the things that they should do with the device.
"Of the 20,000 devices we do have in circulation, only about 5,000 have actually registered their device," Mr Faria said. "A lot of people don't realise the benefit of registering it, so they don't do it. They just think it's an inconvenience to do it."
"The main benefit is that once you've registered your device and created an account online, if your device is lost or stolen, you can actually report it lost or stolen and you can get it back."
Mr Faria said devices are handed in all the time at their offices and at City Hall, so if they're registered, it's easy to return them to the rightful owner.
"We can also block the device so that when whoever has the device goes to top it up, the merchant will get a notification saying the device is blocked. They'll retrieve the device and we can get it back to you that way," Mr Faria explained.
Once the device is registered, users can also see their transaction history, which can be particularly useful in certain circumstances.
"That's especially beneficial for commercial customers because it helps control costs and allows them see who's using their devices and to what extent," Mr Faria said.
"You can also use the online reporting to dispute parking tickets. If for whatever reason, you receive a ticket and you think you have a valid case where you had your EasyPark on, we can help you run a report that will help you dispute that ticket - but again, only if your device is registered," he said.
Registered users have access to the company's online helpdesk and the added convenience of being able to top up online, but only if they have one of the newer models with the USB port on the side.
"The majority of the devices since 2010 have the USB. The older models can't be topped up online, but it's a very small percentage of our users that have those older models," Mr Faria said.
"Of the 20,000 we have in circulation, and of the 5,000 who registered their devices, only about 1,200 top up online. That could be for various reasons. We're trying to grow that number."
"There's a small service fee every time you top up - 4.5 percent, but you get a 15 percent discount if you top up online," he said. "There's a full internet reload guide on our website with step-by-step instructions on how to do everything - it makes it pretty straight forward."
"People who top up online, love it and you find that once they start doing it, they continue to do it that way," he added. "We currently have 23 merchants around the Island so there are a lot of easy ways to top up - they're at a lot of the gas stations so some people think it's just as easy to top it up while they're getting gas, I guess."
For those users with an older model, the company offers a trade-in deal if you want to upgrade so you can top up online. Users will receive 20 percent off the newer version if they buy directly from EasyPark and if the old device is registered.
With a little over 30,000 cars on the road and 20,000 devices already in use, EasyPark Bermuda has all but cornered the market with its devices. But they say business is still steady.
"We haven't seen any decrease in sales over the years. We're still getting people who are switching over from the vouchers," Mr Faria said.
"We do have the rights to the whole Caribbean so that's where our growth will be eventually. Once the market here is saturated, we'll grow into other countries. But we still see quite a few people who don't have the device - we still see quite a few of the paper tags on the cars in Hamilton," he said.
When asked about a smartphone parking application the City of Hamilton is considering adopting to allow drivers to pay for parking on their mobile phones, Mr Faria said he's not worried.
"We're not sure what the end result for them will be. We're trying to build a multi-tiered comprehensive solution, so we do have a few other things that we're going to be bringing to the market in the near future. I don't want to go into too much detail about that, but we'll make an announcement about that in the next few months," Mr Faria said.
To learn more about EasyPark or to register your device, visit www.easypark.bm.