Apr 09 2013

Parking Pay-by-Phone Coming To Harrow

parking_ticketHarrow Council is looking at introducing a pay-by-phone option to some of the borough’s on- and off-street parking areas. All well and good, so long as you can still pay by coins, of course.

Using the RingGo system, drivers can simply opt to call, text or use one of the Android or iPhone downloadable apps to pay for parking.

Sounds good, yes? However, this also brings an element of distaste to it, when you realise that the pay-by-phone option will carry a 20p “convenience charge” with it, on top of the actual cost of parking. If you were going to park for 30 minutes in Marsh Road (and it’s not clear yet which areas will support RinGo), you’d be paying 60p rather than 40p – that’s a “convenience charge” of 50%.

Paying by text is even more expensive, with not only the 20p “convenience charge” to contend with, but also the cost of sending your text message, PLUS a further 10p to receive confirmation – that wraps up to a scandalous 75% premium for paying by phone.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]Pay-by-phone option will carry a 20p “convenience charge” with it…[/pullquote]There’s no indication on whether coins will still be accepted for parking, and, if so, whether all machines will accept coins. So long as residents are offered an option of paying by cash, then it’s a smart move: increasing options is nearly always a good thing, but to force residents to pay a premium – a hidden tax, if you like – for the convenience of the council (no cash to collect from machines, no cash-handling charges to deal with, reduced risk of vandalism – indeed, Hounslow said that they “…were losing significant amounts of cash through theft and vandalised machines. Again, pay by phone services meant a transfer of cash to cards, reducing the loss to the Council…”

Southwark, meanwhile, also implemented RingGo – they said that:

  • Cut their meter maintenance headcount by a third (equivalent to 35% of direct costs), by not replacing a member of staff. The combination of lower usage, together with RingGo as an alternative method of payment, means machines can be repaired less frequently.
  • They have also reduced the cash collections at many sites from twice weekly to weekly, saving 32% of cash collection costs. Even with these reduced collection intervals, the risk from theft is less than pre-launch, because cash levels are so much lower than previously.

The Council say:

The introduction of pay by phone parking in Harrow is to be staged over a 6 month period, starting with the off street car parks in April/May.  Two months later at the beginning of July we will make the service available on street; two months after that, at the beginning of September, residents will be able to obtain virtual residents and visitor’s permits through the same service.  At the beginning of November all other permits will be available in the same way.

I ask again: who is benefiting from the “convenience” of pay-by-phone? Given that police advice in Harrow is to not wave your mobile about in our crime-ridden, un-swept street, this seems to be exactly what our half-baked council is now encouraging us to do.

Source: Harrow Council


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  1. Mr Mustard-Blogger (@_MrMustard)

    Paying by phone as a choice is useful as people with phones usually carry them everywhere. I used to travel a lot for business and what I used to do was chuck all my change into a bag that I kept in the door pcoket so I always had a large selection of coins available and my suit pockets didn’t wear out. The Barnet way, no cash, is bonkers.

  2. iharrow.com on Facebook

    Mr Mustard-Blogger (@_MrMustard) commented on iharrow.com:

    Paying by phone as a choice is useful as people with phones usually carry them everywhere….

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