More paperless parking meters

The new machine. Photo by ODT.
The new machine. Photo by ODT.
A trial of pay-by-plate parking meters has been extended from the Octagon to other parts of Dunedin until March, when it will be decided if the system should go citywide.

A $7500 parking meter which does not issue a ticket, unless a receipt is specifically requested, was installed in March last year after concerns about the amount of pollution caused by paper parking tickets issued by standard parking meters.

The new machines, which are similar to the system used in Brisbane, require users to input the amount of time they need and their licence plate number.

Dunedin City Council regulatory services manager Kevin Thompson said the paperless system also meant people could input their cash and plate number and then go about their business, rather than have to return to their vehicle to place a ticket inside, which was advantageous to people with disabilities and the elderly.

People could park in any slot within the area covered by the meter while their paid time was current.

The Otago Daily Times was recently contacted by a reader concerned the meters could lead to an invasion of privacy on the part of the council.

David Cohen said he was concerned about whether there were safeguards on the information being collected, who could access and use it and the potential for the wholesale collection of personal movement information entailed in knowing where, and for how long, people park.

Dunedin City Council parking meter technician Reece Smith said the council had been contacted with similar concerns, but was confident there would be no privacy issues with the system.

He said the time paid and licence plate number entered into the machine was sent to a website, run by the meter company, accessible only by council meter technicians, parking officers and a parking services administrator, who had specific log-in details.

The information was accessed via a hand-held device by parking officers checking areas covered by the meters.

No personal information was held on the website, only the licence plate number, which was not linked to a name or address.

If a vehicle was found to be infringing parking rules, officers then followed their normal enforcement procedures on a separate hand-held device to issue an infringement notice.

Once the paid-for parking time was up, the plate number was automatically deleted from the website, Mr Smith said.

If the system became permanent, a time period for holding the information from the meter in the case of infringements, giving people enough time to challenge a ticket, would have to be set.

Mr Thompson said a survey of users last year showed 79% liked the new Octagon machine.

Negative feedback mainly centred around change and frustrations at using a different system, and having to memorise or go back for licence plate numbers.

As a result of the survey, it was decided to extend the trial and install more machines, at the council's Filleul St and Frederick St car parks, he said.

If the trial was successful and received council endorsement, other meters around town could be converted at no extra cost when they needed to be refurbished.

The project would be paid for within existing budgets and over several years.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

Tickets

Let's just face the facts, the installation of these meters was a mistake and now they are trying to rectify it with yet another mistake (at the ratepayers' expense yet again).

Here's the answer: Get rid of all the meters and make all the parks free for say 15 mins. Anyone needing longer can go to a parking building.

No more expense for meters, no more rubbish and everyone happy. The council can gather their revenue from tickets for those parking in excess of the allocated time or by taking the parking buildings back as this will stop the revenue leaving the country.

Problem solved at no cost ( I guess that means it won't happen then). [abridged]

Paper but not as we know it

In response to dundeeboy re pollution:

It's horrible plastic-coated non-biodegradable stuff which doesn't break down at all!

As an example, late last year I was cleaning up someone's section for them in Port Chalmers and I find a DCC parking receipt from September 2008! Still legible and in as good condition as when it left the machine.

I am familiar with beaches at Aramoana and these tickets are everywhere, they blow out of cars, end up on the street, go into the storm water system and end up in the harbour and eventually make landfall on our beautiful beaches - disgusting. The mudflats above the high tide mark is terrible down there, it averages roughly one ticket every meter. Why won't the council use biodgradable receipts? I think there was an ODT story a couple of years ago about this, can't remember details now.

That is why it's important they get rid of this horrible horrible stuff. I sincerely hope the new machines use biodegradable product. [abridged]

Parking

It amazes me the council can get away with charging a number of people for the same thing at the same time.

Imagine if you will I park, pay for an hour, wander off to a shop, find I can't do what I want so return to my vehicle and leave all within ten minutes. There is still 50 minutes of parking paid for. Someone else immediately parks in the same spot and pays for an hour but they subsequently leave half an hour later. There is still 20 minutes of my money and 30 minutes of their money left in that park. A third person arrives and pays for half an hour.

20 minutes of their time has been paid for three times and the last 10 minutes twice.

Never happened with the old coin meters - if you left early someone got the benefit of your money but the council still only got a fair return, one lot of money for one park.

I am sure the reason the council is changing to these machines is that they are so good they will be able to be programmed to issue refunds or parking credits for unused parking - thus no double or triple dipping.

Yeah right! [abridged]

Parking pollution

So if everyone prints out a receipt there will be exactly the same amount of paper floating around as before.

I would think the council would have bigger pollution concerns than a few bits of paper.

Privacy, yeah right

So . . . when that incredibly handy and valuable licence plate database of where, when and who is hacked (or lost like the ACC data) and someone figures out where and when certain people tend to park, and where they or their cars might be found . . . could that be a problem, maybe?

And why is the machine so expensive? Ahh . . . I suppose it's made locally be the same people who built our 40 million dollar glass and steel box for Josepine.

Whose idea was this?

Are we not in enough debt here already? We already have a stadium and a Chinese garden that are never going to return a profit and still need to be paid for and be continually propped up by the ratepayers. Oh, here's another, let's just install a whole lot of new meters at $7500 each and just lump the bill on the already struggling ratepayers.

Do we have to get together and storm the council chambers to get our point across? We are sick to death of you lot wasting our money, money that we don't have.

Give it a rest and forget this stupid idea. I agree with Kris, we should have stuck with the coin operated meters

Make it easy for the residents

Bring back coinage - get out of your car, put in 20 cents, go to your destination. Even big cities in big countries do this. There is nothing easier.

 

Please consider the users

Please re-think the sites chosen for these types of meters. Yesterday whilst attending a hospital appointment I parked at Frederick St car park. I assisted two separate senior citizens who were really struggling to understand the technology and witnessed at least two others walk up to the machines, scratch their heads, then drive off. Please don't forget that not everyone is tech savvy and anyone feeling stressed about attending hospital (which many people parking there will be doing) do not need the extra hassle.

Also, at $7,500 per meter, surely there's a cheaper solution to be enviromentally responsible?

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