Dialling a smart parking move

June 06, 2018

Motorists will soon have different payment options available to them when paying for parking, not just coins.

Have you been in a position where you’re caught without any coins, running late for an appointment, want to park as close as possible but also don’t want to get stung with a parking ticket?

I’m sure most of us have been in this situation at least a handful of times.

Currently, if you’re in Shepparton and don’t have any coins with you, it’s then a choice of whether you park in a metered spot and try to exchange notes for some coins at the nearest shop, or find a free timed spot.

If time is an issue, you’re in a rush, your meeting takes longer than expected, and if you don’t have enough coins, the possibility of copping a hefty fine rises.

The debate around parking in the Shepparton CBD has been well publicised in the pages of The News during the past year.

Ultimately, the idea of a three-month trial of free parking in the CBD was discarded late last year, as councillors deemed it too expensive and its success difficult to measure.

If the trial was to have gone ahead, it is true that while parking would have been free for motorists, the significant shortfall in council coffers it would have created would have to be made up somehow.

At the time, estimates suggested free CBD parking would cost the city $1.4million during the course of a year.

It was ultimately a cost councillors could not fathom, and all bar two councillors voted against the trial and discussion instead diverted to new technology to open up different payment options.

Personally, I have no problem with paying for parking.

When you consider the cost of parking in the Melbourne CBD is about $5.50 an hour, the rate of $1.50 per hour in Shepparton compares favourably.

But if you’re like me, it’s the action of actually paying for the parking that’s the problem, not the idea of it. Right now, if you don’t have coins, you can’t pay.

I’m happy to pay, but I just don’t carry much cash with me. I prefer to use card and I’m sure I’m not alone on this.

If I’m in the CBD and caught without coins, and have enough time on my hands, I’ll park further away in a free — yet timed — zone and walk to my destination.

No problem on these occasions, but not always practical if you are time poor.

It is good to see that a more flexible option for payment is about to be introduced, with pay-by-phone parking technology set to be rolled out in coming months.

While the option to pay with coins will still remain, those with a smartphone will be able to download an app and organise payment via a card connected to an account.

The only potential problem I can see here, and it is a minor one, is how the changes will cater for those who do not have a mobile phone capable of running the app.

Rolling out new technology for parking payment is probably long overdue but it’s a positive that motorists will now have options, some flexibility and hopefully less worry about the possibility of copping a parking ticket.

Cameron Whiteley is editor at The News.

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