Smartest parking machines in the country trialed
21 January 2004
Smartest parking machines in the country go to trial in Wellington.
Wellington City Council is starting a six-month trial of TXT-a-Park – the country’s first pay-and-display parking machine system that allows Vodafone customers to pay for parking via Txt.
The service was developed by Cash Handling Systems, Synergy International and Vodafone New Zealand, in conjunction with the council.
The 20 trial machines allow users the choice of paying by mobile phone or cash, with mobile transactions being debited to the user’s mobile phone account.
The system has been designed to run on an ASP basis so that additional councils and new machines can be easily added.
Each company involved in the trial has played a unique role in getting the system ready for launch.
Cash Handling Systems, New Zealand’s largest supplier of parking machines, has integrated a GPRS dial-up modem into the new generation machine that communicates directly with Synergy’s application. Additional functionality allows remote machine monitoring and fault reporting in real time. Advantages for the council include the ability to configure the machine remotely, programme different messages and parking fees or waive fees altogether for special events.
The machines are a solid aluminium, vandal-resistant construction that run on solar/battery power. They have been designed to incorporate further payment options in the future including credit cards, notes and other card systems. They can also be configured to pay back change.
The parking application, built and hosted by Synergy, is based on IP developed by its Ericsson-Synergy joint venture. It has been designed to support access by multiple mobile operators and the intention with the Wellington trial, if successful, is to expand it to all mobile users.
Vodafone’s billing system will ensure the customer has enough funds to make the payment while the transaction is underway. The Vodafone network supports the data communication between the machines and the application using GPRS technology.
Wellington City Council Parking Manager, Wayne Tacon, says the trial is the result of a truly collaborative effort between all the parties.
“We believe what makes it so special is the fact that usability has been kept extremely simple and we haven’t had to change the work process for our parking wardens. With cash still being a payment option, we haven’t limited the use of the machines for non-mobile phone users so they can still pay in the usual way.”
How does TXT-a-Park work?
- The motorist goes to one of the new parking machines and presses the ‘TXT-a-Park’ button which identifies the cost of parking (either $3 for 1 hour or $6 for 2 hours)
- The motorist sends a text message with the machines unique code to 7275 (PARK)
- The motorist receives a text message confirming receipt of funds from their Vodafone account or Prepay balance.
- The machine vends a ‘pay and display’ ticket and the motorist displays the ticket in the car as normal.
- The machines will still take coins – they are not exclusively TXT-a-Park
- There’s a 50 cent fee for successful TXT-a-Park transactions on top of the parking fee
- TXT-a-Park is available to all Vodafone customers including Prepay and On Account.