Millions of drivers trapped in parking app hell: more municipalities are banning payment and display machines for hated cashless alternatives
- Charities and MPs said it was a ‘horrible’ trend affecting the elderly
- More than half of the over-65s do not feel like using parking apps, the Mail notes
More than two million motorists will soon be living in ‘parking meter deserts’.
Payment and display machines are increasingly being dropped in favor of cashless options such as mobile phone apps.
Charity bosses and MPs said it was a ‘terrible’ trend and urged councilors to consider the implications for elderly motorists and struggling high streets.
A poll commissioned by the Mail shows that more than half of the over-65s do not feel like using parking apps such as RingGo and PayByPhone. And four in 10 respondents of all ages said they would be put off going to city centers where there are no parking meters.
“Successful cities and high streets have accessible shopping streets and that includes easy parking,” says Andrew Goodacre of the British Independent Retailers Association.
(Stock Photo) Payment and display machines are increasingly being phased out in favor of cashless options such as mobile phone apps
(Stock Photo) Charity bosses and MPs said it was a ‘terrible’ trend and urged councilors to consider the impact on elderly motorists and struggling high streets
I wouldn’t know what to do with a parking app… it’s too complicated
With parking meters being abolished in Brighton and Hove, drivers are furious at having to use a ‘complicated’ app instead.
Lucy, 58, visits the city’s popular Stanmer Park four times a month to walk her dogs Lola and Blue. After learning that the Green Board would scrap the meters at the end of May, the school’s supporter said she would “boycott” the park for good.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” she added. ‘I don’t want an app on my phone, because I don’t always find it very safe. I wouldn’t know what to do.’
A council spokesman said removing the machines would lead to significant savings when the budget was hit by central government cuts and inflation.
“I am shocked that many municipalities are introducing parking apps instead of meters, because these apps are a barrier for many drivers.”
Experts warn that some areas have too poor mobile internet coverage to eliminate machines. And they point out that it’s an additional blow to high street stores already struggling with reduced footfall and rising costs, such as rents.
Pay-and-display council machines already belong to the former parts of London, including Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Barking and Dagenham, a Daily Mail audit found.
And by the end of next month, yards will be gone from Enfield, Bromley and Brighton and Hove.
Harrow is moving to a ‘cashlite’ system and has now shut down most of the machines. Slough wants to cut some this year.
Elsewhere, half a dozen councils confirmed their meter readings had been cut – with further cuts being made in Ealing. The West London council had 196 machines in 2016, but by the end of this year it will be down to 60.
Reasons given by municipalities for phasing out the machines include the cost of handling cash, protecting ticket money from thieves, and a decline in usage. Others mentioned the cost of upgrading machines.
East Suffolk Council says it has reduced its meters from 126 to 96 to ‘reduce carbon emissions associated with collecting money’. Spokesmen for many town halls said motorists can still pay for their tickets in cash through the ‘Paypoint’ system in shops. Apps such as RingGo and PayByPhone allow drivers to communicate card details over the phone. However, they may also charge additional fees of up to 30 pence per hour.
Clive Betts, Labor chair of the Commons leveling-up committee, last week warned ministers against the removal of parking meters.
In correspondence, he said, “People should not struggle with countless apps to pay parking fees or risk a fine if they are unable to successfully navigate the app.
Experts warn that some areas have too poor mobile internet coverage to eliminate machines
Clive Betts (pictured), Labor chair of the Commons leveling-up committee, last week warned ministers against the removal of parking meters
“These developments pose a particular problem for elderly or frail drivers who may not have a smartphone, or who may have difficulty using apps if they do.”
Caroline Abrahams of the Age UK charity said: ‘The news that we will soon see the end of paid parking is catastrophic for anyone without a smartphone, including millions of elderly people.’
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: ‘In line with customer trends, a number of councils have made the decision to innovate and digitize some of their parking services, including moving to cashless payments and removing parking meters when other, more efficient and safer ways can be taken to make payments.’
The Mail survey was conducted by Consumer Intelligence.