Smart parking meters

December 10th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington City Council has decided to press ahead with the new sensor park technology after a successful trial in Blair and Allen Sts. The project will cost $1.4 million.

The switch to what has affectionately been dubbed “pay and walk away” parking will mean the end of printing out paper tickets and displaying them on your dashboard.

It will also see the introduction of a new smartphone app and a website that will alert motorists when their time is running low and allow them to “top up” their parking meter from anywhere.

The app and website will also display in real-time which car parks are occupied and which are empty.

This looks great for three reasons:

  1. Can find an available park easily
  2. Don’t have to spend time putting a ticket in the car
  3. Can top up remotely if delayed

Surge pricing for parks

April 23rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

SF Streetsblog writes:

The SFMTA recently upgraded all of SF’s 29,000 parking meters to “smart meters” that are enabled for demand-based price changes throughout the day, a la SFpark. Now, the SFMTA plans to expand its smart pricing program that has curbed car traffic to more existing meters.

“SFpark showed that demand-based pricing can improve parking availability without increasing double parking, congestion, or parking citations,” said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. “Our next challenge is to figure out the right mix of pricing and real-time information to make SFpark work in every neighborhood in the city. We’ll be working with stakeholders to find a win-win that creates less frustration, smarter travel choices, and fewer citations for every neighborhood.”

Under SFpark, the SFMTA has used “demand-responsive” pricing at about a quarter of the city’s meters since 2011. During a two-year pilot phase, the federally-funded program proved that by adjusting prices to demand, enough parking spaces could be made available to eliminate the need to circle for a spot.

That’s a great idea. Prices should change to reflect demand and supply.

The same should apply on roads. So long as there is a free alternative route, major roads should have a variable charge on it, to prevent congestion.

Parking sensors

February 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Thousands of sensors are to be installed around Wellington to keep an eye on parking overstayers.

A $1.4 million rollout of 4000 sensors across city car parks is being planned by the Wellington City Council. The move would allow wardens to get real-time information about where people are overstaying, although the council also says automated reminder messages and top-up options sent to people’s cellphones should mean fewer tickets being issued.

The sensors can tell cellphone or internet users where car parks are available and can be linked to online payment, allowing people to receive phone alerts when their time is about to run out and to top up their payments.

That would be very useful – both being told which parks are free, and being told when your time is almost up.


Double dip parking tickets

September 30th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

More than 4000 Wellington motorists a year have been receiving two parking tickets for what is effectively a single offence under double-dipping fines that have already been thrown out by a court.

Wellington City Council has been forced to investigate the legality of its fines after a District Court ruling found it was punishing people for two offences, despite the transgressions amounting to the same thing.

But the council maintains it is acting legally, and it is continuing to issue the double dose of fines.

When motorists’ pay-and-display tickets run out, they are fined for displaying an expired ticket. Then, if they are also beyond the maximum time limit for the car park, they are hit with a second fine. In the past financial year, 4100 tickets were issued in this way. The practice started many years ago.

As you can only get a ticket for up to two hours, ipso facto if you end up pared for longer you will have an expired ticket and be over the maximum time.

You should get a ticket, but only one ticket. The fines for an expired ticket already vary depending on time. So if you are 30 minutes over it is $12 and two to four hours over is $30.

In May, justices of the peace Ian Symonds and S J Roughton ruled against the practice, saying the first fine should be “subsumed into the second” because it was basically the same offence.

They’re right.

But council spokesman Richard MacLean defended the practice, and said the council was still issuing the extra tickets while it carried out a review. It accepted that two tickets could make motorists “become annoyed”, but it maintained two offences were being committed.

“We reject the revenue-gathering angle, because we are responding to a problem where people are parking free and taking away the ability for other people to park.”

Yeah, not revenue generating – right.

No one disputes there should be a fine – just not two fines.

That would be useful

July 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In the past financial year, Wellington City Council made about $16m from on-street parking and permit fees, and about $8m more from infringement notices.

Parking revenue in the 2010-11 financial year was $25.8m.

That’s big money – around $100 per person.

Transport portfolio leader Andy Foster said he thought people would appreciate the new “customer-friendly” technology being investigated.

One of the initiatives was a text message service that reminded people when their parking meter was about to run out, and gave them the option of topping up via their phone.

That would be excellent. I use my cellphone to pay most times, and would love that service.

World’s Worst Attempt At Parallel Parking, Enjoy!

April 30th, 2013 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

This video reminds me of a Xmas lunch many years ago at a cafe on Tinakori Road, and a woman was trying to parallel park her car outside the cafe. She was only marginally more successful that the woman in this video, and it probably didn’t help that she could see our group pissing ourselves with laughter.

However we were not laughing at her directly. One of the girls in teh group went outside to tell her why we were laughing. She told the joke which she had just told to us, which was “Why are women so bad at parallel parking?”. The punchline being “Because men tell them that this is six inches” while holding up two hands just a few cms apart.

As she repeated the joke to the woman, she cracked up laughing also. It still took her several more attempts to par the car though!

Should taxis pay for taxi stands?

February 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Dom Post reports:

Cabbies may have to pay to use taxi ranks as Wellington City Council looks to save ratepayers’ money.

But taxis warn that the cost would just end up being passed to passengers.

A proposal to charge taxis for using city stands is among ideas mooted by council officers for inclusion in the draft Annual Plan, which sets the city’s budget and rates take.

Councillors will debate the draft next month before the final version is sent out for public consultation.

I use taxis a fair bit, but despite that I think there is some merit to this idea. Central city space is at a premium. Those who use it for parking or for taxi stands should pay for the economic cost of that space. Basically it should be user-pays. I’m not sure ratepayers should subsidise taxi users.

Parking tickets after midnight

August 18th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Unsuspecting Wellington motorists are being stung by council contractors issuing tickets in the dead of night.

New figures from Wellington City Council reveal that Wellingtonians are being ticketed at all times of the day and night. A breakdown of a year’s parking tickets shows 1403 fines were handed out between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

One person was ticketed at 3am for not having a current registration, and another for parking in a loading zone.

This makes me think it is revenue gathering. Who the hell is inconvenienced by someone being on a loading zone at 2 am?

Council spokesman Grahame Armstrong said the figures showed that people should not be complacent about parking enforcement, no matter what the time of night.

“Unfortunately, some drivers seem to think they can drive around the city after midnight and park wherever they like, without considering the impact on other people.”

Or they think there is no impact to, for example, park on a bus stop at 2 am if the last bus is at 11 pm.

Formal patrols officially finished at 11pm, so any tickets issued later than that were due to complaints.

I am slightly suspicious of that. That is around 30 complaints a week for parking after 11 pm.

I have no problem with responding to complaints from affected residents. But if they are just trawling town looking for minor infringements, I think that would be wrong.

A superb idea

July 13th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The mayor of a German town has sparked controversy by introducing special “easy” parking spots for women.

Mayor Gallus Strobel, from the Black Forest town of Triberg, told Germany’s Spiegel magazine he introduced the spots because men were better at parking than women.

The women’s spaces, which are marked by female symbols, are reportedly better lit and wider, while the men-only spots have concrete pillars to negotiate and can only be reversed into.  

Strobel told the magazine that women were welcome to attempt parking in the men-only spots, but that “men are, as a rule, a little better at such challenges”. He denied accusations of sexism, pointing out that there were 10 women-only spots in the carpark compared to only two men-only spots.

This is an excellent idea. I think the Wellington City Council should copy this initiative.  Just as we have special parks for disabled drivers, I think special parks for women is an excellent initiative.

Parking Charges

June 7th, 2012 at 2:08 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZb reports:

Auckland motorists are in line to be hit hard in the pocket if they want to park in the CBD in future.

Consultation is underway for Auckland Transport’s parking proposal to remove time restrictions and replace them with a single approach to pricing.

It’ll see hourly rates of between three and five dollars for the first hour, and between five and eight dollars each hour thereafter – so potentially costing around $30 for four hours’ parking.

Auckland Transport’s Mark Hannan says if people are parking all day, they should be looking at parking buildings instead.

“The aim is basically to get people moving in and out all the time. We don’t want people to park all day on city streets.”

The consultation period runs until July 1.

I quite like the idea of higher charges for longer periods. I agree streetside parking should be for relatively short periods of time – a quick shop, a meal etc. More than 90 minutes or so, and you should be in a parking building.


WCC spy car reined in

January 28th, 2012 at 7:48 am by David Farrar

Bronwyn Torrie at Stuff reports:

Wellington’s most loathed car will be reined in and reviewed after public outrage.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has ordered a review of the Parkwise spy car after growing pressure for it to be scrapped. It follows a flurry of complaints about unreasonable parking fines and overzealous operators.

The car will be limited to monitoring school zones – its original purpose – while the review is done.

Hopefully it will stay focused on school zones rather than revenue maximisation.

Tow truck commissions

January 25th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicholas Jones at NZ Herald reports:

Tow-truck companies have been accused of paying “spotters” to dob in motorists – a lucrative practice that helped to pay the rent for one former student.

Several Herald readers yesterday said they knew of cases in which flatters and a dairy owner were paid to report illegal car-parkers in a practice going back at least nine years.

One reader said he’d seen taxi drivers “spotting” for tow-truck drivers, but did not know if they had been paid.

Tow firms dismissed the claims as “rubbish”, but Luke Turner, 32, said his flat was paid a $10 kickback from a towing company, which has since changed hands, when he lived in Galatos St, Newton, nine years ago. …

Tow firms the Herald contacted said such arrangements did not exist and to their knowledge never had.

I have no doubt such commissions have existed and may still exist. I don’t see why the tow truck firms deny it, as I don’t see anything wrong with it from their perspective? I mean in a moral sense, it is like being a Stasi spy, but in a commercial sense it is not an issue and tow truck firms are already hated.

Just to show you how money hungry they are, let me relate a story told to me by a friend who used to manage some inner city land in Auckland which he turned into a parking lot. Obviously he needed the services of a tow truck company to deal with those who parked there without paying the fee. He got paid a portion of the towing fee, in return for having selected that company. So that generated a bit of extra income, on top of that from actually leasing out the parks (which was considerable). There were a total of 30 parks or so, so at say $30 a day that was say $900 a day income.

Anyway after this business had been going on for some time, the tow truck company made a suggestion. They said that what he should do is actually refuse to lease out any of the car parks to people wanting them. Why? Well a piece of land with 30 empty car parks would be an irresistible honey trap to motorists. They would risk a quick park there, not knowing there would always be a tow truck waiting around the corner to pounce and tow them.

I don’t recall the exact numbers but the tow truck company was insistent my mate could make much more money by not allowing anyone to park on his site through a commission on towing them, than through actually leasing the parks out to motorists who want them.

My mate declined. He is a fervent capitalist and loved making money. But that was a step too far for him. however it does give a good insight into the behaviour of tow truck companies.

Kill the spy car

January 18th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Donoghue reports at the Dom Post:

Public ill-will towards Wellington City Council’s “spy car” has led to four councillors calling for it to be abandoned.

Councillors John Morrison, Bryan Pepperell, Paul Eagle and Simon Marsh said yesterday there had been so much aggravation surrounding the vehicle that it was time for it to go.

Three other councillors – Jo Coughlan, Justin Lester and Leonie Gill – said they wanted to see the vehicle’s continued operation subjected to an extensive review by councillors.

There’s been numerous stories about the spy car in recent days, including how it snapped a photo of a motorist who pulled over to let it pass.

Mr Morrison described the spy car operation as nothing more than revenue collection. “It runs against the basic Kiwi mentality of people getting a fair go.

“This is clipboard, whistleblowing, white-coat bureaucratic stuff. This bureaucratic behaviour has brought the council into disrespect.”

Too right. Never thought I’d be on the same side of an issue as Bryan Pepperell, but I am on this one.

Former Wellington resident Ann Reeves is taking the council to court next month to contest the $60 ticket she received after being photographed by the spy car on broken yellow lines. She had pulled over to allow the spy car to pass her in a narrow street.

On December 8 last year, elderly Karori resident Donald Massam stopped briefly on yellow lines to drop off Judith, his wife of 52 years, for an urgent dental appointment on The Terrace at the bottom of Bolton St. He was sent a ticket for $60.

Mr Massam said he would be taking the council to court if his fine was not waived.

“If there was a parking warden in the area I could have explained why I had to stop. This is not a fair go. This involved an elderly person and an urgent medical matter,” he said.

It is that lack of discretion which is the issue.

Ms Wade-Brown said the safety of drivers and pedestrians was the most important issue in the suburbs and the city centre.

“The dash cam car is a useful part of enforcement. We must be vigilant that the focus is on safety and enabling legitimate use of on- street parks.

“Some drivers believe that parking on double-yellow lines is OK for a few minutes but a crash can happen in only a moment.”

Oh, what tosh. Someone should OIA how many car crashes have occurred due to someone having pulled over to let someone get out. The safety argument is a red herring.

Anyone want to stand for Mayor in 2013? Send your CVs into me 🙂

Blogger gets Wellington parking fines reversed

August 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Well done to Dave at Big News who blogs:

The Wellington City Council is to waive and refund thousands of dollars of parking tickets to motorists after wardens and council contractors blatantly ignored Council policy in issuing parking infringements. …

According to the Council’s parking manual [not online], infringement notices are “not issued…until six minutes after a (clearway) restriction begins, or within six minutes of when the restriction ends”. Yet in the past two years, 181 were – including people parked for a matter of seconds, still in their vehicles. The Council’s manual also states that “when the person in charge of the vehicle is present, then he or she in the first instance should be moved on”.

So basically the Council had a camera that was photographing cars on a clearway and ticketing them – even if the driver was remaining in the car and just dropping someone off etc.

WCC Parking

May 5th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Dave Burgess at the Dom Post reports:

Shops, bars and restaurants have joined in criticising Wellington City Council plans to charge for two hours of extra parking in the evenings and to increase fees to $5 an hour.

The increase would make Wellington’s parking the most expensive in New Zealand and dearer than Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.

The Council is just being greedy. The increase to $5/hr is bad enough, but they also are going to make you pay up to 8 pm, instead of 6 pm.

The association also criticised the two-hour extension of the time the council can impose parking fees. “To me it looks like a money grab … I don’t accept the argument that by having higher parking fees you turn over the parks more quickly. I think by having higher parking fees you run the risk of having all the parks empty,” Mr Albertson said.

After 6 pm, there are generally lots of parks, so it is a nonsense to say they need to extend the fee to turn parks over more quickly.

If somone stood for Mayor in 2013 on a platform of reducing parking fees, I reckon they could do very well.

Editorials 23 February 2010

February 23rd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald says RNZ savings are not worth it:

Radio NZ’s budget last year was just $38.2 million, of which $34.2 million was public money. That points to the swingeing nature of the Government’s programme. While it is reasonable that all state-funded bodies should tighten their belts, it seems excessive to be waving a big stick at organisations where the potential savings are trifling.

The same penchant was, however, evident in last year’s Budget. Most controversially, cuts were made to adult night school programmes.

Again, the savings seemed hardly worth the trouble. Community education takes just 0.6 per cent of the tertiary education allocation, and the canned programmes provided value for money, if only because they gave hands-on instruction at schools that would, otherwise, not have been in use.

The Herald may be right that politically it might not be smart to take a lot of political heat, for relatively small fiscal savings. However I think it is more complex than that. If the Govt goes soft on one or two state agencies, then it is harder to keep fiscal discipline with the rest of them. State sector CEOs will find ways to live within means if they think everyone is doing so. But if you start giving into media campaigns for more funding, it incentivises other agencies to do the same. And then you end up having to borrow even more than $240 million a week.

The Press talks protecting police:

In response to the weekend violence the Government is considering introducing extra penalties for offenders who assault police officers, as is the case in Western Australia. Such a move might not deter drugged or drunken offenders from attacking officers, however.

Yet, it is still worth considering, as it would reinforce the special position the police have in our society to uphold the rule of law. It would also acknowledge the real, every-day risks faced by officers as they perform their duties.

If the Government did move to strengthen penalties it would have to be determined whether the new law would apply to off-duty officers who intervened in an incident. But because the public expects off-duty officers to respond to crimes they come across, and they would not be wearing anti-stab vests, they too should have the protection of such a law.

I favour increased penalties for assaults on Police. The Police get assaulted, basically on our behalf. They deal with the criminals and risk their lives often doing so.

The Dom Post flicks at Wellington parking wardens:

Of all the low-down, mean, sneaky tricks … While football fans were cheering the Wellington Phoenix to a nail-biting victory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday evening, parking wardens were ticketing the vehicles of 61 fans who had exceeded the maximum parking time outside the ground – because the match went into extra time, then a penalty shootout.

To its credit, Wellington City Council has waived the tickets, which threatened to turn the Phoenix’s triumph into a public relations disaster. But coming on top of other recent instances of over-zealous ticketing, the incident suggests something is amiss with parking operations. Proposals to install Big Brother-style parking surveillance cameras in Courtenay Place add weight to the theory.

The purpose of parking restrictions should be to ensure that as many people as possible can park in city and suburban streets, do their business and be on their way. It should not be to fatten the coffers of Tenix, the private company which manages Wellington parking, Parkwise, the Armourguard subsidiary to which Tenix contracts ticketing, or the council itself.

Hear hear. The incentives are all about revenue maximization, not giving parkers a fair go.

And the ODT looks at water woes in Canterbury:

Seldom has a local authority received such a slating as that just given to Canterbury’s regional council, Environment Canterbury (ECan), by a Government review panel.

The panel says the gap between what ECan does and what it should do is enormous and unprecedented. …

Yet some argue no change is needed.

Parking Wardens

January 5th, 2010 at 11:28 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington motorists have been stung with almost $10 million in parking fines in the past year, and some wardens have faced so much abuse that they have quit.

In the past two years, wardens have been sworn at, spat on, shouldered, grabbed, driven at in cars and menaced with a wheelbarrow.

While in no way condoning unpleasant behaviour towards people merely doing their job, I have to say I am not surprised, and people who choose to be wardens should be aware it will be a very unpopular occupation.

Take three sorts of law enforcement – general Police, traffic Police and parking wardens.

Now most people are very supportive and friendly towards the general Police. You generally have to have deliberately broken the law to have a bad encounter with them, and they put away the evil doers etc. Some bad cops of course, not generally the Police are popular and respected.

Then take the old traffic cops, now part of the Police. They were less popular because they fine you for driving you car in a prohibited way. You generally have made a deliberate decision to speed, so you know the risks, and know that 400 people a year die on the roads, so there is a need for traffic cops.

Finally one has parking wardens. Now the vast majority of people ticketed by wardens do not set out to break the law – they don’t say oh I think I will park in Queen Street all day and not pay for it. Normally it is people who just end up being delayed getting back to their car, or people who unable to find a legal park, risk a loading zone for 10 minutes as they rush to drop off a letter etc.

Hence it is no surprise than when people find they did get ticketed, they are pretty pissed, and wardens end up getting abused. Again not condoning it, but saying it is no surprise.

Ms Thessman said tickets were not aimed at generating revenue, but to ensure parking compliance. “It’s about giving everybody that opportunity to park and go about their business. If someone’s parked there all day, no-one else gets a chance to park. It’s about space turnover.”

Wellington’s large number of tickets was due to “non-compliance and bad parking behaviour”.

The city’s topography contributed to the problem, she said, as many motorists parked on footpaths in narrow streets to give other motorists more space or keep their own cars safe, blocking pedestrians in the process.

And that is part of what pisses people off – over zealous enforcement. In areas like Roseneath, it is a bloody good idea to park slightly on the footpath, as it helps prevents crashes. Motorists who do this tend to still leave lots of room on the pavement – they are using their judgement.

The other thing which annoys people is when you get ticketed for parking in front of your own garage!

Sex and Parking

December 21st, 2009 at 12:36 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

The argument between couples as to who is better at parking, finally has a scientific answer.

Psychologists asked 65 volunteers to park an Audi in a sealed-off university car park.

The results found that women took up to 20 seconds longer to park in the same space.

But although they were more cautious about edging into position, it did not make them any more accurate.

Scientists from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, found men were better at driving both head-on into the space and reversing into it.

However, the biggest difference was in parallel parking, where men were found to be 5 per cent better in their handling and positioning of the vehicle.

That reminds me of an old joke. It is better in person with hand actions than in print, but nevertheless it goes like this:

Why are women so bad at parallel parking?

Because men keep telling them that |                                                              | is six inches

Some years ago, was at a Xmas Party at Fords Cafe and a woman was trying ot park outside, and failing badly. Someone told this joke to the table and for several minutes we were pissing ourselves as we kept watching her try to park. She finally managed it and we were a bit worried she would think we were laughing at her (rather than the joke) so we sent someone outside to tell her the joke, and she also burst into laughter.

Wellington parking tickets

January 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

No surprise that Wellington City Council makes more money from parking tickets than even the much larger Auckland City.

The wardens seem to be on 24 hour patrol 7 days a week. Go visit someone for an hour at 10 pm on a Sunday night in a residents parking zone, and bang you get a ticket – even though there are dozens of empty parks.

Park on a bus stop on a day there are no buses usin that stop , and wham got you.

They also ticket you if the warrant has expired. That money goes to central Government, but I wonder what sort of commission they get from the $200 for doing the ticketing?