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Parking changes follow Council workshop

19 November 2012

Parking changes follow Council workshop

The Palmerston North City Council acknowledges public angst over the city’s innovative parking technology and is announcing some immediate changes to make the system more flexible.

This evening, Councillors and staff held a workshop to discuss parking issues. Council chief executive Paddy Clifford says both Councillors and staff are aware of the issues faced by members of the public and retailers.

“Many issues were aired and a number of options debated. It was decided a more flexible system was required in the short-term in order to resolve the issues in the long-term.”

As of today Council will:

• Extend the tolerance period from 5 minutes to 10 minutes before and after meter time to allow people time to get change and reduce stress on the way back to their vehicle.

• Use of ‘Parking Pixies’ for two week period on peak days prior to Christmas specifically targeting visitors to the city.

• Review charges and consider whether these should alter

• Following a retailer survey, carried out at the weekend, Council will review parking periods in different areas of the CBD

In the longer term Council will:

• Establish a Working Group made up of Councillor and management representatives.

• Develop longer term solutions through a Comprehensive Parking Management Plan, to be completed in 2013.

• Investigate the viability of changes asked for by the public:

8 Reduced charges in low use areas

8 Automatic receipting

8 Continuous bay numbering that are easier to read

8 Screens that are easier to read

8 Limit loss of service of credit card and text transactions

8 Pay and display

The workshop acknowledged that not everything is in Council’s control. The $40 fine for failing to activate the metre is set by central government.

Council acknowledges that visitors from areas without parking meters may continue to run into issues.

Paddy Clifford says Council is in a partnership with Frogparking and is committed to working with Frogparking. “Sensor technology is becoming common place elsewhere. We acknowledge Council’s aims and objectives are different to that of Frogparking and that causes tension from time to time however I’m certain we can create a work together to improve the situation.”

The Workshop began with a reminder of why Frogparking was adopted. Council wanted to increase compliance rates, which were then sitting at around 60%, in the belief that more people paying for parking was better than more people being fined for infringements. At the time, Council was made aware the change would lead to an increase in infringements in the short term.

Previously, on average 2-3% of infringements were ticketed. Now, almost two years in to the Frogparking pilot, on average 6-9% of infringements are ticketed and the level of compliance has increased to 90%.

Today, on average around 5,300 meter transactions per day are made, all of which are monitored in real time by Council staff.

Council parking wardens issue on average 180 tickets for meter offences every day, accounting for 3.5% of all parking transactions.

This indicates that by and large the vast majority of people operate meters without any issue what-so-ever.

Breaking down the figures further, on average between 6% to 9% of all potential offences result in tickets being issued. The reason only some infringements are ticketed is because many vehicles are moved before a parking warden arrives.

The agreement with Frogparking was signed in 2010. Then parking occupancy levels were on average at 60%, today that has fallen to around 40%. There are a variety of reasons including:

8 a significant increase in the number of over 700 car parks in the central city (the Plaza’s staged introduction) thereby providing motorists with more options.

8 The continuation of the Global Financial Crisis which has affected car parking occupancy rates around the country.

The issue and the reduction in occupancy is concerning to retailers. On Friday and Saturday a survey of 150 retailers in the central business district was carried out and three main areas of concern were identified:

· The system is too complicated

· There is not enough grace period

· People cannot top-up time

Retailers were also asked what they thought was an appropriate length of time motorists should be allowed to park however an inconsistent message was received as some preferred the status quo, others such as hairdressers, more and some, such as cafés , less.

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