Shocking: Melbourne Announces Plan that will Reduce Parking Income

I heard from a friend in Melbourne, Australia, that the city is installing a system of pay by cell phone. In addition to embracing the program completely the city government is sweetening the deal by telling the citizenry that they will receive a text on their phone when they are nearing the time limit they paid for. They can either ‘top up’ the meter from their phone or go move their car.

The Mayor has acknowledged that the program will cost the city upwards of a million a year in lost citation revenue but he said that the goal was to make the city more responsive to parkers, not penalize them.

Wow! What a refreshing approach. When city after city are trying to find ways to stick it to their constituents to raise money, hearing someone actually planning to make it easier for parkers NOT to get citations is stunning.

My contact tells me that promotions like this, led by a very popular mayor, has brought thousands of Aussies into the pay by cell fold and enabled the city to expand the program throughout its suburbs.  A nice spinoff has been that with so many people paying by cell, they don’t need as many pay and display machines so they are reallocating them to areas that has planned to add pay parking and not having to buy new machines. He expects that 20% more spaces can be handled by each machine.

Melbourne has a number of areas where angle parking is in the middle of the street. You park, and then have to hike to a P and D machine, then return to your car, all the while dodging traffic.  By making these areas pay by cell only, the city is increasing the safety of its parkers, another benefit of the system.

No wonder Melbourne has been named the most livable city on the planet.

JVH

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One Response to Shocking: Melbourne Announces Plan that will Reduce Parking Income

  1. Barry Cole says:

    Our parking services office works under the Downtown Management Board Office. The Downtown Director is primarily charged with bringing desirable businesses downtown, bringing customers downtown with events year-round, and being an advocate for downtown businesses with the City of Petoskey. The Parking Services Office reports directly to her. Petoskey’s Police Department turned over the parking responsibilities to the Downtown in 2002. I suspect like many police departments, parking enforcement and encouraging citizens to shop downtown is not a top priority.

    Our parking compliance team has “Parking Ambassadors” in large letters on the back of their uniforms. They carry shopping maps, restaurant menu guides, parking tokens to give to parkers that are obviously searching for change, a “Smart Park” brochure that explains the parking system and how to save money and avoid tickets, Park Mobile handouts and wallet cards for those that haven’t any change and don’t know about cell-phone parking. Not only does ParkMobile allow “open-ended” parking- paying upon return, our office picks up the transaction fee so the customer pays no more than they would if using coins. To our knowledge we are one of about three ParkMobile clients that picks up this fee for our customers. After fixing a mal-functioning meter our policy is to set it with the maximum amount of time allowed.

    Upon request we deliver parking permits and tokens to downtown employees.

    We almost always dismiss a citation when a driver returns even if we’ve gone down the street a few cars.

    Most importantly our system issues a warning on any plate that hasn’t received a parking citation in the last 12 months. Year-in, year-out 50% of the citations we issue are warnings. The first sentence of the warning states, “Welcome to Downtown Petoskey. We trust your visit with us will be very pleasant.” It indicates they have violated the parking ordinance but will.. “overlook this violation” It ends with “Thank you for visiting Downtown Petoskey. Please comeback soon and often!” on the flip side it lists downtown cultural attractions, has a QR code for the downtown website, touts our Downtown Treasure certificates and The Chamber of Commerce contact information. Our area is a major resort destination area, and the system is designed to not ruin a visitors first downtown experience. Expired meter fines are $5; 25 cents nets 30 minutes of parking on the street and 60 minutes in a lot.

    We answer the phone “Parking Customer Service”.

    Almost all revenue stays downtown. It fully funds the parking department including lots and meters, beautification downtown (flowers, shrubs, trees), bike racks, facade grants to merchants, map pedestals, signage, and two dozen annual events, the downtown free trolley four days a week in the summer months, the monthly newsletter, and sidewalk snow and ice removal. Whenever possible we use local sources for whatever supplies and other purchases we make. We are mortgage free on seven of our lots and the last will be paid for in a few years.

    Parking revenue in the last decade has increased over 55%. The majority of the downtown merchants fully support the system.

    However, complaints about parking are ever present; it’s the nature of the business. Locals don’t like paying for parking, some merchants blame the meters for keeping people away or shortening customers’ visit, and of course employees and even some owners get lots of tickets in three hour spaces for parking all day in front of their business in violation of the parking ordinance.

    On the other hand we get lots of compliments from those that receive warnings and have even had inquiries from other municipalities when one of their citizens return home and shared one of our warning citations.

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