City parking meter income dropping

Parking meter income has plummeted as fewer people visit the central business district.

The Invercargill City Council parking meter income and parking fine revenue has taken a dive since 2010.

For the year 2010-11, the council scooped $708,308.72 in parking fines. For the financial year ending June 30, it is projected the council will get $335,643.51 in fines revenue.

Council environmental health manager John Youngson said the drop in income this year was partly because of short-staffing but the trend was not able to be ignored because income had been reducing sharply for the past four years.

Youngson said his staff feedback cited more people feeding the meters, which accounts for the smaller drop in revenue from parking meters from $683,756.02 in 2010-11 to $606,093.92 projected by the end of the month.

But they consistently said there were fewer people in the central business district, Youngson said.

City council and city upgrade boss Graham Sycamore said the trend of fewer people going into the inner city was disturbing.

"Quite often when I go into town there is parking everywhere."

Retailers' feedback during the upgrade consultation had reflected the council's data, Sycamore said.

"Most of the retail people say it has been pretty quiet and there are not many people around."

Sycamore said the council faced the same issue with the bus service, with fewer people using the new Bus Smart scheme to get into the city.

Roading manager Russell Pearson confirmed passenger numbers on the buses had decreased compared to before the Bus Smart system but numbers were slowly picking up.

The dip in income could not be attributed solely to fewer people visiting the inner city, with private car parks also luring people away, Youngson said.

Thayer Todd Valuations property management consultant Trevor Thayer said he managed several commercial car parking properties. It was seeing an opposite trend to the council, with demand increasing for private off-street parking.

That was being driven by office workers and retail staff who wanted close parking without a limited time frame, Thayer said.

Youngson said the council was looking at ways to combat that, with new technology and simple payment methods.

The council had trialled sensors under parks to track parking patterns and eventually will offer new ways for people to pay for parking, Pearson said.

Signals are semt from the car parks to nearby boxes on power poles, which are then transmitted to the internet.

That offered new opportunities for people to pay online, via their smart phone, and even alert parking wardens through a smart phone application when people had overstayed, he said.

The Southland Times