Car park sensors just the ticket Number of fines up 30pc - so far

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 09:17 14/03/2014
tdn parkl stand
FINE DAY: A parking meter.

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The number of parking tickets dished out in New Plymouth has skyrocketed since the introduction of a $1.2 million sensor system.

The controversial new parking meters were installed 16 months ago and since then the number of parking fines issued has increased by 30 per cent - from 21,723 in 2012 to 38,728 in 2013.

The New Plymouth District Council is banking on $3.975 million from parking this financial year, $294,000 more than the year before.

Despite the increase in parking fine numbers since late 2012, extra revenue has gone to the Ministry of Justice, which takes 50 per cent of all fines issued for offences relating to warrants and registrations. The new system has helped offset that loss in revenue, which would otherwise have had to have been met by ratepayers.

According to the council data, 41,616 parking fines were issued between November 2012, when the system was installed, and December last year.

The more advanced system, which costs $70,000 a year more to run than the old setup, is the reason the number of fines has gone up, council's manager of customers and regulatory, Mary- Anne Priest, said.

The $1.2 million system automatically alerts the district council's four parking wardens when vehicles have stayed in a parking spot over their allotted time.

The system has been plagued with problems and has left many users unhappy and confused.

However, only a quarter of those breaking parking laws were being hit with a fine at the moment, she said.

The number of tickets issued and the associated revenue was expected to rise as the public and the traffic wardens adjusted to the changes.

Yesterday, New Plymouth woman Angela Phillips, 32, was cursing the new parking meters for not printing out receipts.

"These obviously work for the council, because they are getting more money, but they don't function for the public who need to use them," she said.

New Plymouth was a popular tourist town, she said, and slapping visitors with fines was not a good incentive for them to return.

Mrs Priest said the new system meant the council knew what the occupancy rates of car parks were. In New Plymouth's CBD the occupancy rate is 46 per cent.

The infringement data has been released a month after the announcement that parking costs at the New Plymouth Airport are set to soar.

Airport car park users could face a price hike of up to 40 per cent, while the cost of losing a parking ticket has risen by 66 per cent to $100.

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All daily, weekly and annual airport parking fees are set to increase in July, generating an additional $200,000 a year, with the revenue earmarked to pay for extensions to the car park.

NUMBER OF FINES

2012: 21,723

2013: 38,728

Oct 2012: 2375

Oct 2013: 3961 75 per cent were for expired meters. Over 14 months 9437 were referred to court. $3.681m revenue in 2012/13.

$3.975m budgeted revenue for 2013/14.

* Parking system went live in November 2012.

- Taranaki Daily News

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