Multi-storey car parks usually conjure up images of dark, unsettling places that are also full of unpleasant exhaust odours. Then there's the slight worry as to whether you'll find your car in the same condition you left it. And the cherry on the cake is the high ticket fee to pay.
Bern's railway station parking facility proudly sets out to demolish this stereotype. In 2015, the Swiss trendsetter became the country's first parking facility to receive the "European Gold Standard Parking Award", Europe's highest quality honour. Prior to the award decision, parking facilities were subjected to a thorough examination on the basis of almost one hundred criteria.
Dr Bruno Wägli, Chairman of the Board of Directors and the largest shareholder in the operating company, took time out to talk with us and warmly welcomed the Protectas interview team to the company's offices.
Ever since it opened for business, the car park has been open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On average, each parking space is taken 2.5 times every day and the average parking time is about 3 hours.
For over 20 years, we've been able to rely on Protectas, our dependable and professional partner. We have just 10 employees of our own, and they receive support from the Protectas staff – especially between 10 pm and 7 am. The tasks involved range from performing system operations to patrols and assisting with various incidents such as lost tickets or credit cards and faulty cars. All in all, It's very varied work. It's interesting to know that assistance is provided on an average of ten occasions every hour.
Video surveillance covers the entire facility, with some 6,000 vehicles entering and leaving every day. Nevertheless, a personal presence is very important: this is a point that can't be mentioned often enough. That's why staff are present around the clock. At night-time especially, professional Protectas security staff are on duty and will also accompany people to their vehicles if asked to do so. This service can be called up by pressing a button on one of the automatic pay stations. As well as the car park at the railway station, various other nearby parking facilities are guarded from the surveillance centre.
In the medium term, parking tickets will disappear: they will be digitalised, and so will the payment process.
But as this happens, we shouldn't forget that people still like to be looked after by other people. "I think I'm probably too old for robots," Dr Wägli confides to us with a chuckle.
Fire is always an issue, and the fire protection system always has to function. We also have the problem of illegal waste disposal.
Based on many years of experience, we can fully recommend Protectas as a partner. The factors that make our working relationship a success are flexibility, professionalism and the abilities to react and adapt. Also, our contact – Mr Pascal Udry – is extremely efficient.
Deputy Area Manager Basel & Bern / International Accounts Securitas AB
Because of the very high standards at Bern's railway station car park, the recruitment and selection procedure is more rigorous than for standard guarding services. Based on our own experience, we only assign employees who have extensive knowledge and experience in the security sector. We give preference to staff who are already employed by Protectas. We deliberately opt for a small team so that the same employees can be assigned regularly – and that enables them to deliver work of maximum quality. When they are on duty, our employees must always have the same level of knowledge as the internal staff of the company that operates the parking facility. But this also means that an employee picked at random cannot simply be introduced at short notice. In terms of service coverage, this sets very high requirements for planning, especially in case of holidays or illness.