20 June 2016

Contactless pay and display machines just the ticket for drivers

Most parking machines in Brighton & Hove could be switched to pay-by-card as part of £1.8m investment proposals to improve reliability of parking machines

The proposal would scrap around 650 of 800 oldest machines which take coins.  They would be replaced with machines which accept both chip-and-pin or contactless card payments.  Over 400 of the machines need replacing anyway as some are seven years past their normal life and showing signs of rust as sea air takes its toll.

One hundred and fifty newer machines now in use would be adapted to accept cards as a well as coins. These would be clearly branded as accepting cash and strategically placed where most likely to be needed. Drivers will also still be able to pay for their parking in cash at any of the city’s 150 PayPoint outlets by quoting the location code for where they parked.  This is displayed on machines and street signs.

There would be no administration fee for card payments.

New machines would also have the capacity for drivers to key in their registration number.  This offers the prospect of easier enforcement using hand-held number plate recognition technology.  In future it could also make possible a web-based system showing areas with vacant parking spaces.  

Impetus for the change comes from the fact a new 12-sided one-pound coin is being introduced in 2017.  Converting all machines to accept the new coins would cost over £180,000.  Buying  machines which take the new coin and accept vehicle numbers would cost £2.5 million.  It would take over 12 years to recoup this cost through savings, by which time the machines would be obsolete.

By contrast, costs of installing mostly pay-by-card machines would be £1.5m. The council says the change would cut cash-handling risks and reduce losses and damage to machines from theft. 

£150,000 has been stolen from parking machines since 2008.  Between January and March this year, there were 51 incidents of theft or attempted theft, netting thieves almost £15,000 and causing £30,000 of damage.

Official figures show 95 per cent the UK’s population has a bank card.  The figure is likely to be higher among drivers because of their need to pay for vehicle tax and insurance.

New pay-and-display machines could take chip-and-pin or contactless payment

Today 40 per cent of parking payments in Brighton & Hove are made by phone, with drivers able to top up their parking using this system without having to go back to the machine

A report recommending the change is going before councillors on the environment, transport and sustainability committee on June 28. 

Committee chair Cllr Gill Mitchell said:  “The change to new coinage next year and the pressing need to replace our old on-street machines has enabled us to consider a better system.  This change will give us newer, more reliable and user-friendly machines, while maintaining the ability to pay in cash on street and at PayPoint outlets.”