Media release: Mobile phone parking system in Fehraltorf discontinued

13 January 2012

About five year ago, in cooperation with the local company xsmart, Fehraltorf launched a parking voucher that can be purchased via mobile phone. In doing this, the community took on a pioneering role. In the parking zones Kirchgasse and Luppmen the parking meters in approximately 90 parking spaces could be activated at the touch of a button on a mobile phone and could be stopped again, precisely to the minute. At the time the operators hoped that after the experience made by Fehraltorf other communities and cities would follow suit. The community itself hoped to bring the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) aboard – but neither occurred. Now the municipal council has decided to discontinue the service. “We greatly regret having to do this as the service functioned flawlessly and is basically a good thing”, says municipal council president Wilfried Ott.The SBB did not share our goals.
According to Ott, Fehraltorf’s executive authority wanted to give a local company with an innovative product a jump start. “In addition, it also enhanced our community with a forward-looking character.” However, the municipal council determined that the two parking lots were too small for this service to be profitable. “That’s why we tried to include SBB with their park and ride facility at the train station” says Ott. But the community’s requests fell on deaf ears. “SBB feared that by doing this they would generate less revenue, since by using the mobile phone for parking the amount could be accounted for by the second.” That’s why the cost-benefit calculation was not fulfilled, “although 10 percent of all users took advantage of this service.“ Christian Baumann, managing director of xsmart regrets the decision of the municipal council. He is convinced that Fehraltorf would have decided in favour of the mobile parking system since it was based on the concept of service. “It’s very typical of this community to see its citizens as its clients and to want to offer them an optimum service.” He makes it clear that the cancellation of the service was a decision based purely on commercial precepts. “It has nothing to do with whether the system worked or not or whether customers didn’t want it.” To be able to operate the system profitably, a minimum of parking operations would have to be processed via this system. Communities did not prioritise the system.
“We assumed that other communities would come on board. But that was simply not the case” says Baumann. Although everyone was thrilled with the simplicity and functionality, they did not want to make it a priority. “Ultimately it’s the drivers who pay, whether they have change in their purses or not.” The xsmart managing director points out: “After all, busses can be profitable, too.” His company has decided not to continue to bear the costs for a single community and to discontinue the service. “That’s why in the future we will be implementing our mobile payment system where it is desired as a service. The night time surcharge of ZVV and the Night Owl service of ZKB are two good examples.”