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Paying for parking in Princes Street got easier

You choose! Paying for parking in Princes Street just got easier

In a first for the region, Auckland City has begun a six month trial providing customers with the opportunity to pay for parking by text message and credit card.

From today Princes Street will host 12 new pay and display machines accepting TXT-a-Park payment through the Vodafone network, Visa and Mastercard as well as the traditional coin payment.

The days of fumbling for change to pay for parking could nearly be over, says Auckland City’s parking services manager, Chris Geerlings.

“There is huge demand for new ways to pay for parking as Aucklanders carry less and less cash. These two new payment options will not only be more convenient for many people, but show Auckland is keeping pace with technology trends in other international cities.

“Parking technology has moved on significantly in the six years since single-head parking meters were replaced with pay and display machines. We’re putting it to the test to get a feel for how our customers like it,” says Mr Geerlings.

TXT-a-Park payment is available to Vodafone customers through the trial, with the parking fee charged to the customer’s Vodafone account or debited from their Prepay balance.

Visa and Mastercard are accepted credit cards. The parking fee is processed via a GPRS real-time system and is instantly charged to the customer’s card.

The trial aims to collect customer feedback and operating performance data about the new technology and its success is up to the people who use it says Mr Geerlings.

“If the technology is going to be welcomed anywhere in Auckland city, it’s Princes Street. This area is heavily used by students, who are traditionally tech-savvy, and the high turnover will show us if the software and hardware is as robust as we need it to be.

“Wellington offers this type of technology, so we know it’s safe. The volumes are just so much bigger in Auckland due to the demand for parking; we have to be really sure of what we’re getting into,” says Mr Geerlings.

If customers like and use the new payment options, and both the software and hardware performs well, Auckland City will go out to tender to replace its existing pay and display machines as they each come up for renewal over the next three years.

Pay and display parking trial in Princes Street: background information

Who is supplying the trial pay and display machines and why were they chosen? Auckland City is entering into a trial with Cash Handling Systems Ltd (CHS) to purchase 12 Ezipark Global meters for Princes Street, which provide coin, text message and credit card pay and display payment options. CHS are currently the only supplier of text message and credit card pay and display technology with the partnerships and systems in place within New Zealand to ensure a fully operational trial.

How much is the trial costing Auckland City and how has this been funded? The cost to Auckland City of providing the trial machines is approximately $100,000, funded from revenue generated by pay and display machines. The trial is subsequently self-funded. How will the trial be evaluated? Auckland City is committed to ensuring our customers are happy with the technology and that it works. Our evaluation measures are based on the numbers of customers using the new payment options and their feedback, and how the equipment and accompanying software performs. Should the trial be successful, the council will go out to tender to replace current pay and display machines with the new technology.

Why was Princes Street chosen for the trial? This area is heavily used by both students and visitors to the Auckland University area, and is somewhere we feel will really illustrate the robustness of the technology and whether customers are going to use it.

How do TXT-a-Park and credit card payment options work? For the trial period, TXT-a-Park payment is only available to Vodafone customers. Simply txt the parking code on your Vodafone mobile to the number provided on-screen as part of the purchase process, and the parking fee is charged to your Vodafone account or deducted from your Prepay balance as appropriate.

Visa and Mastercard will both be accepted during the trial. Insert your Visa or Mastercard into the machine, follow the on-screen instructions, and the parking fee is deducted from your credit card account. Credit card payments are a real-time transaction and no credit card data is retained in the machine.

Both new payment options incur a 50 cent transaction fee.

What happens if the pay and display machine doesn’t work when I want to use it? The new machines still accept coins, so try this first or walk to another machines to purchase and display a parking receipt. If there is a technical issue call Auckland City on (09) 379 2020. You will need to quote the machine number, which is stated on the front of the machine.

Why is there an additional 50c transaction fee for credit card and TXT-a-Park payments? For TXT-a-Park payments, the 50 cent transaction fee is retained by Vodafone and Synergy International, the TXT-a-Park service providers, for processing and providing TXT-a-Park transactions. There is no additional charge for the text messages sent by either Vodafone or the customer.

For credit card payments, the 50 cent transaction fee covers the cost of the online data transfer and the payment software provided by CHS and Direct Payment Solutions (DPS). Auckland City is charged its usual merchant fee by Visa and Mastercard.

Auckland City continues to collect the parking charges only, and does not retain any of the 50 cent transaction fee.

Why is Txt-a-Park only available to Vodafone customers? Vodafone is currently the only mobile provider able to facilitate the TXT-a-Park payment option in New Zealand. Other suppliers are working on integration technology to enable them to provide this service in the future.

Is it safe to use my credit card at the new pay and display machines? What happens to my credit card details? The trial pay and display machines use real-time credit card transactions via a secure web-based programme. No credit card details are retained in the machine, and the online real-time programme means only valid credit cards will be accepted.

Does Auckland City subsidise people who use text payment and don’t pay their phone bill? There is no cost to the council as Vodafone carries the risk of any non-payment of mobile phone accounts. Prepay customers will not be able to use TXT-a-Park unless there are sufficient funds available.

How much investment is likely to be needed to replace existing pay and display machines, should the trial be successful? Auckland City currently operates 730 pay and display machines around the city. Should the trial be successful, and the text and credit card pay and display technology rolled out, the cost will be approximately $8 million over the two to three year period in which existing pay and display machines are replaced.

How will the investment in new pay and display machines be funded in the future i.e. to roll out across the city? Auckland City is required to budget for asset renewals as every fixed asset has a set life. Should the trial be successful, the investment in new pay and display machines will be funded through this asset replacement budget.

When does the trial period end? What happens to the new pay and display parking machines at the end of the trial? The trial commences on Monday 7 March, and runs for six months until September 2005. If the trial is successful, the trial machines will continue to operate until a decision is made with regard to replacement equipment and the associated operating system.

What is the process for acceptance of the trial? Should the results and customer feedback from the trial be positive and the decision made to roll out new pay and display machines offering TXT-a-Park and credit card payment options, the council will advertise for registrations of interest from suitable manufacturers and suppliers. To ensure the most suitable equipment is bought at the best price an Auckland City project team will review all proposals and then recommend one to the Transport and Urban Linkages Committee for a decision.

Will I be able to claim GST on TXT-a-Park or credit card transactions? The words ‘tax invoice’ do not appear on TXT-a-Park receipts, however Vodafone customers can use either their phone account or Prepay voucher to claim GST on parking purchases.

Parking receipts for credit card and coin payment can be used to claim GST.

What are my credit card options? Visa and Mastercard are both available for the trial period. Should the technology be successful and rolled out across the city, Auckland City will consider other credit cards currently accepted by the council for web payments.

What information appears on my Vodafone accounts? Your Vodafone account will list your TXT-a-Park payment clearly on the bill.


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