SFGADV automatic toll booths

Monday, April 2, 2007 6:08 PM
Hi All,

I went to SFGADV today and they have new toll booths. Every other one is credit card machine with 3 options. Season Pass, Preferred, Regular parking. This caused a lot of head aches this morning for people trying to get to lanes with people in it and others not knowing how to use the system. Does any other park use this method? If so how does it work? What are you thoughts on it? Default is $45 season pass parking so if you don't know what your doing thats what your gonna get it. There is no notice as to what is Auto and Manual until you make the turn and can see them.

Personal I think is a step in the wrong direction to easy the morning rush. It was other kaos and took me 25 minutes to get through and was almost hit 3 or 4 times.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 6:44 PM
I always thought that this was something that could be automated, but I guess you have to do it right. From the sound of your post, they are not.
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Monday, April 2, 2007 7:08 PM
good idea...horrible implementation. they are like florida with their tool booths, you have to either guess, or know before hand which lane is the EZ pass. It sucks!
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Monday, April 2, 2007 7:52 PM
I have a Season Parking pass but mine just has a sticker. I was reading somewhere that they switched to a card you can scan. that means i have to find a manual booth?
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Monday, April 2, 2007 8:01 PM
So is it 50% automated and 50% staffed?

If that's the case I don't hate it as much as I otherwise would. I'd rather all of them be open with this option than only half open.

Sounds like some better signage is definately in order though.

The one thing that does bother me is the season pass default that you mentioned. Reeks of an attempt to scam those that aren't paying attention out of some easy $$s. Sure, you deserve it if you don't pay attention, but sounds underhanded to me nonetheless.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 9:13 PM
There is no season pass entrance to the park. Also there are no directions on the automatic CC booths. They actually had people standing there telling customers how to use it. Seems like a waste of technology. It really did not speed stuff up during the morning rush. I could see these working when they are not busy but durning peak entry time it is utterly useless.
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Monday, April 2, 2007 9:38 PM
Put up some better signage, problem solved.

Pretty much everything SF does at this point is going to be Negative-Nancy-ed to death no matter what.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 10:28 PM
I didn't think the new tollbooths were that big a problem this morning, but I will definitely second the complaints about bad signage. There were two small pictures on the self-service machine that didn't help at all, and after inserting my credit card four times and not getting a result, I asked a gentleman to come help me. He pushed a button, waited a moment, and everything was fine and dandy. Sounds to me like putting signs up that actually EXPLAIN all this would be a better solution than unclear picture sequences.

Another criticism: alternating self-serve and live-operator tollbooths was an abysmal idea. They should have put one set on one side and the other set on the other. As it stands now, it doesn't help the traffic situation (whereas blocks would alleviate half the traffic problem) and it's only going to confuse people who are coming back to the park and not expecting it. This definitely could have been done better.

All told, I was pretty pleasantly surprised. Some nice changes at the park (the new approximate wait time signs especially are very much appreciated) and most rides were walk-ons, but I do see a few things that have me pretty concerned. Kingda Ka seems to have worked out the kinks when everything operates okay, but it had some hefty downtime in the afternoon. And why is El Toro still running only one train? Is there any good reason why a half-filled line still takes an hour and a half to navigate (after breakdowns and delays and the like)?

I liked a lot of what I saw today, but I've still got a few worries.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 10:36 PM
Yes Matt, but how long do you think it will take SF to figure out that changing signage will help?

I mean look how long it took them to even figure out that there were problems in other areas of the parks in the first place.

Automated parking booths sound like a good idea, but implementing it in a customer friendly way is the key. I had a real problem when a parking garage I used often in State College, PA went automated at first, but after I realized how easy it was to use I didn't mind as much. SF needs to make it easy. Isn't "easy" the selling point of these automated systems in the first place?

Should a season parking pass really be something you buy at the automated tollbooth? Sounds fishy to me too. Sounds like SF is relying on guest ignorance or stupidity so they can sell the season parking pass to people who don't need it (only visit once or twice per year)...

I mean if it more profitable to cheat someone by confusing them, why not? Right? Six Flags is in debt and needs the extra income. I am all for them scamming guests who may be in a hurry or nervous around automated systems. I think all parks will do something like this in the future so they can make more money. It IS a business and the parks are not a charity. Scamming your "guests" is the easiest way to become more profitable...

...Hurray for Six Flags. I really hope they find even more ways to cheat their "guests" and make lots of extra money to fix all the mistakes they have made in the past.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 10:49 PM
You aren’t going to win customers if you are scamming them. People might not know it at the time of purchase but when they get home from the park and look at a receipt they won't be happy. Same feeling I get if I go to the store and the price scans higher then it says on the shelf, a customer gets ticked off.

Scamming your guests is not ethical and if that is a business model it is doomed and illegal.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:03 PM
Only in a thread about SF could a poorly implemented automated parking booth get turned into a scam technique and subsequent discussion of poor business practice in a mere 10 posts. :)

Hilarious.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:10 PM
Shall I take it further. I 'could' argue that SF is only implementing the automated toll both in order to save on payroll for the tollbooth attendants. I 'could' argue that point, but I won't. ;)

Seriously though. Are season parking passes generally available to those who do not buy season passes to the park? If not, I think it's cool that SF is now offering that option. You know that will be abused by friends passing it around. So good for those who will do so.

But, you do have to wonder why they set the default at the most expensive option. :)

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:16 PM

Nitro Dave said:
(the new approximate wait time signs especially are very much appreciated)

(Gasp!)

Wow. I told Guest Service that not having wait times posted at the entrance to the rides really screwed up my itinerary. It was my last visit ti SFGAdv and the only time I have ever rented a ScammBot. Every time I went to stand in an actual line after botting for another ride, I worried about missing my return window time.

Don't get me wrong. It was even worse than not having wait times posted. they had a sign in front of most rides that said, "Wait time is approximately (Blank) minutes".

That was 2 summers ago. It took them long enough.

So I guess this is a good thing while it lasts. Lo-Q supposedly compiles that info anyway, so I wonder if they are the ones who are providing the wait time info to the guests? You know, I didn't think it was possible to let guests in on how long they were going to wait when ScammBot is provided. What if there is a discrepancy in virtual waits compared to actual waits?

And what the heck is this about running only one train on the newest coaster? I smell higher ScamBot sells.

Nitro Dave, did you just say that the automated tollbooths were alternate with the "live-operator" tollboths? That is a stupid way to do it. Why not have a sign before you get there to tell you that "Live Operator" tollbooths are on your left and "automated" tollbooths are on your right? Maybe no one would go to the automated booths if they offered "guests" time to think about it.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:23 PM
Hmmm, perhaps I have to be there to truly get the idea, but THIS looks pretty clear to me.

And if THIS is on the road as you approach - then the overall system should be painfully obvious.

Not sure I see the confusion. Then again, people can't seem to figure out the self-checkout at the grocery stores - so nothing surprises me anymore.

Ooooh, that dirty Six Flags!
(trying harder to fit in from now on ;) )

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:32 PM
What they really need is a sign telling you how many of the cars in front of you in the self service line are occupied by people incapable of actually using the system. ;)

Still would like to have been a fly on the wall during the discussion of what option should be the default setting on the new system. It makes perfectly good sense to choose the one that is most likely going to be used the least, right? ;)

It's super early in the season. They've got a lot of time to sort this thing out. I think it's a good idea to implement these things, I love them at the grocery store and Home Depot, Lowes, etc... I have faith that they'll get it worked out in time and that you'll be seeing more of them in the future.

One other question. Why no line for just season parking pass holders? Just like the toll booths, no waiting, just fly on by. Now that would be cool. From the looks of it, this would be a great option to have since they apparently think they'll be selling boatloads of season parking passes. ;)

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:39 PM

Why not have a sign before you get there to tell you that "Live Operator" tollbooths are on your left and "automated" tollbooths are on your right?

It's a safety issue, I imagine.

There's what - 6 lanes into the park. With three on one side and three on the other, you'd have to potentially cross as many as 3 lanes to get to the correct side if you're on the one of the end lanes. That's a case of ugly just waiting to happen

This way no one ever has to shift more than one lane (and they can shift in either direction).

The alternating lanes makes perfect sense.

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Monday, April 2, 2007 11:58 PM
I thought full service was mandatory in New Jersey? ;)
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Tuesday, April 3, 2007 2:02 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
There's what - 6 lanes into the park. With three on one side and three on the other, you'd have to potentially cross as many as 3 lanes to get to the correct side if you're on the one of the end lanes. That's a case of ugly just waiting to happen

Not necessarily. Again, consider this an idealistic call for better signage, but if the park simply indicates multiple times on the entry road leading to the booths that self-operating lanes should yield to one side while automated lanes should yield to the other, the traffic jams and safety issues become nonexistent.

And also, to all the critics out there, be patient. Keep in mind, it's April 3. While Six Flags does has the reputation for being lazy and somewhat indifferent to guest feedback, the Great Adventure establishment has shown annual improvement each year for the past three or four years. The road of improvement isn't always a quick one and I'd really like to think this park is just on that path. But one train on El Toro with 90 minute lines really doesn't back that optimistic thinking...

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007 4:56 AM
Great thinking. Make the folks who paid in advance for the pass wait in the same line with those making transactions. Additionally, make it so the automated lines dont accept the SP parking and now you have mass confusion and frustration. The signage is right at the point of entry despite the fact that the lines formed well outside the view of the signage. Guess they didn't think of that.

Compound it all by not having all the lanes open on the first day and you have choas. Spend big $$$$ to lure folks to the park and then piss them off before they even get into the lot. Great business model.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007 5:41 AM
This does come down to poor signage. You don't know what lane is what until your 20 cars deep and make the big bend and head to wards the booths. That my friend is when all hell breaks lose.

Nitro Dave I don't know what time you got there but I was about 11:10am and it was chaos. People cutting off other people moving in and out of line.

What really gonna stink is now that I have my SP parking pass I still gotta wait for that crap.

Incidentlist the SP parking pass is a sticker that goes on your pass that you have to pick up at SP processing center. I don't know what a general public person would do with it.

As Nitro Dave said there was some nice changes to the park and the estimated wait time signed were a great addition. Wiggle World was also done very well. And Wok and Roll is gone in comes Panda Express.

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