'Nothing to fear' in sensor parking

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 15/11/2012
Simon Pickford and Brian Read of the New Plymouth District Council
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
PARKED UP: Simon Pickford and Brian Read of the New Plymouth District Council put some of the city’s old parking meters into storage.

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A sensor parking system blamed for driving shoppers out of Palmerston North will not cause the same problem when it goes live in New Plymouth on Monday, council says.

After weeks of having wireless sensors and new parking machines installed and old meters removed, New Plymouth's new 21st century parking system is almost ready to go.

From Monday 1600 metered and time restricted car parks will be monitored electronically, sending parking wardens a message if a car is in a space longer than has been paid for or is allowed.

Funded from New Plymouth District Council's renewal account the $1.2 million system is expected to create efficiencies that will increase council's parking infringement collection by an extra $270,000, despite fine amounts not increasing.

A similar system used in Palmerston North has allegedly left many parkers confused and facing large fines after they inadvertently paid for the wrong parking space.

It's got so bad former deputy mayor John Hornblow has backed a petition calling for a review of the system because it's so complicated it's driving shoppers out of the city.

"I know of people who do not come to town because of their fear and anxiety of getting it wrong and having to pay these enormous fees," Mr Hornblow said.

But NPDC regulatory manager Simon Pickford said the system used in New Plymouth would be far easier to use.

"In Palmerston North the parking machines have 44 buttons on the keypads. Ours only have 10. When we were looking at the options we made the call, we wanted a small 10 digit screen.

"Because people will judge the system on how easy it is to use," Mr Pickford said.

Despite that the new system will come complete with council volunteers on Monday to help out any confused parkers.

"The machines have a very easy step by step process to pay for parking but if you're stumped, just look out for our volunteers and they'll help you," Mr Pickford said.

The 90 new pay machines cover eight spaces at a time and accept coin payment. In coming weeks they will also take payments via credit card and mobile phone. All payments will be issued with a receipt.

"We recommend people keep that as proof of payment. If you inadvertently pay for a different parking bay than you're using and you get a ticket, the receipt will prove that you did pay for parking," Mr Pickford said.

As with the parking meters, parkers will be given a 10 minute grace period after their time has expired before a ticket is issued.

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SuperGold card users will still have free parking until 11am and there are no changes for drivers with mobility cards.

Some of the existing parking meters have been removed.

Old parking meters can be bought from the council for $60, or $70 with pole.

CAUGHT SHORT

New Plymouth is installing a new parking meter system but the parking fines will stay the same.

Not more than 30 minutes – $12.

Between 30 minutes and one hour – $15.

Between one hour and two hours – $21.

Between two hours and four hours – $30.

Between four hours and six hours – $42.

More than six hours – $57.

- Taranaki Daily News

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