Parking meter changes come at a cost

20:00, Feb 21 2014

Palmerston North's 202 parking meters could be in line for $325,000 worth of upgrades later this year.

But more than $300,000 of that spending is to comply with banking regulations, and just $17,000 to make the system easier for motorists.

The new spending is included in the first version of the city council's Draft Annual Plan that will be debated by the committee of council on Monday.

Parking system critic and former deputy mayor John Hornblow said it was disappointing to see the council pressured to spend so much money on changes that would be a cost to ratepayers and of little benefit to motorists and retailers.

The first project, worth $169,000, was to install credit card readers that recognised chips rather than magnetic strips.

The new credit cards had better security features.


Council transportation planner Sandi Morris said the change, which would probably be in place by the end of December, was a compliance matter that the banks were insisting on. The council would have to invest in the technology so payment by credit card remained an option for people.

The second project, likely to be required within the next year, was to enable contactless credit card transactions. That would cost $139,000, and enable motorists to use the new technology to pay for parking. Mayor Jono Naylor said the council had little choice unless it went back to coin-operated meters.

The third parking item is $17,000 to change the numbering of the parking bays from two-digit to three-digit identifiers. Renumbering would mean every metered parking space in the city would have a unique combination of numbers and letters. That would allow people to pay for parking in a particular bay from any meter in the city.

Mr Hornblow said the renumbering project sounded like a good use of technology that would improve people's experience with the parking system.

"If this gives us the ability to pay for extra time without having to go back to the car, then that's a great improvement." But he said the other changes to the meters came at a cost. It was a shame other issues with the meter screens that contributed to some people having difficulty seeing what they were doing could not be addressed at the same time, he said.

"It does not address the issue that about 1500 people a month are still using the meter incorrectly, or make it easier for people to park and shop in the inner city."

From May to October last year there were 8980 tickets issued for failing to activate the meter correctly. Those figures include people who did not pay, and others who keyed in the wrong bay number.

The infringement used to carry a $40 fine. That was reduced to $12 in December.

Manawatu Standard