From Friday 13 May, Wellingtonians will be able to park in the central business district just by using a mobile phone.
The new system means parking can now be a paperless transaction with no need for cash, coins, cards or even parking meters and pay and display machines.
Wellington City Council has signed an agreement with Parking Solutions, a New Zealand private company, to provide the service, called Phone|2|Park.
Customers need only a cell phone to use the service.
After registering on the Phone|2|Park website, customers are sent a user ID card which is then fixed to the inside of their windscreen. The customer then simply sends a short text message indicating parking time and the zone they are in. Transactions are billed to the customer's account, which must be in credit.
The system is private and secure and customers only pay for the parking they use. They can also choose to receive a text message when their parking time is about to expire.
Parking wardens use a handset to scan the customer's user ID on the inside of the windscreen. Checking is quick and easy, allowing wardens to monitor large numbers of vehicles efficiently.
Customers pay transaction fees for various aspects of the system, like reminder texts, but this will be offset by the drop in tickets. Wellington City Council Performance Infrastructure Manager, Jon Visser says "this system will significantly benefit people with mobility impairment, who rely on vehicles to access the city and may have trouble using parking meters."
The scheme was successfully piloted in Wellington in late 2005. The pilot involved 40 motorists over four months. All participants were enthusiastic about the new system, citing the following:
- It was a big advantage not having to get out of the car
- It was great being able to extend parking time via a text message rather than having to walk back to the car
- It was helpful receiving reminder texts that your parking time was about to run out
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says in the long-term the Council may be able to reduce the number of pay and display machines.
"This is about innovation and technology to provide better services for Wellingtonians," says Mayor Wade-Brown.
"Transport choice means the car - however it's powered or hopefully pooled - is still an important way for people to get to town.
If customers are happy with the new system then we, as the parking authority, will be too.