Trouble is, we can't park it and leave it

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 14/11/2012

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OPINION: It was meant to be a pioneering use of technology for car parking, but it hasn't quite panned out that way.

The Frog Parking system was introduced to Palmerston North last year and rolled out, over time, to 4000 city car parks.

The system was a technological leap forward, allowing parking wardens the ability to track and monitor what spaces were and weren't in use.

The theory was solid. In practice, though, the system has been something of a disaster.

Before the meters came along, people were already annoyed at the inconvenience and cost of having to pay for parking. The introduction of the new system only escalated that.

Problems were plentiful. Software had to be changed and more people than ever were challenging tickets.

The "ticketless" system provided more problems than they were worth, because many people were unclear as to whether they had a) paid the right amount and b) paid for the correct randomly numbered spot.

People's habits aren't changed easily, and so it was with the new system. The numerous issues went beyond the euphemistic teething problems.

The confusion, the annoyance, then the anger have piled up to the point where a petition has been started asking for the city council to change the system.

Even former deputy mayor John Hornblow, who voted for the new system, says it's time for council to admit it got things wrong.

On the plus side, the council didn't pay for the Frog Parking system to be installed. That tab was picked up by the company that wanted to trial it, Sharp Electronic Singapore.

The council is in a tricky position. There is a clear backlash against the parking system - and parking in general in the city - but the options are limited.

It is likely that little will change because of the petition, despite the good intentions of the people behind it.

The reality is that uprooting the Frog system and bringing in a new one will cost too much and could potentially bring a whole host of new problems.

In the meantime, the anger and resentment towards paying for parking in the city will grow, and it is the shoppers and business owners who will suffer.

ONE MORE THING: Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrive in Manawatu and have crammed plenty into their itinerary. For all your royal coverage, go to manawatustandard.co.nz tomorrow and, for a comprehensive wrap of events, be sure to grab an issue of Friday's Standard. If you have a picture of your own or an experience with the royal couple you would like to share, email it to editor@msl.co.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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