Auckland Transport’s interesting looking parking app appears to have been delayed again. If you don’t recall, the app was first mentioned last year in a video about their recently adopted (and good) Parking Strategy.

In the video, it appears that you simply tag on within the app when you arrive and tag off again when you get back to your car so no need to fiddle around with parking machines or paper tickets.

Here’s what Stuff reports:

An app designed to replace pay-and-display parking machines in Auckland is facing delays of several months.

Auckland Transport’s $300,000 AT Park app was initially set to launch in September 2016 but was put off until early this year and now postponed again until late February or March.

The app, which will let people pay via credit card for on-street parking, would eventually phase out parking meters in the city.

Users would be able to log their location and car registration and then tag on and off.

Once the app was released AT would “thin out” the number of pay-and-display machines before scrapping them altogether over the coming years, AT’s parking design manager Scott Ebbett said.

Thinning out and then scrapping the parking meters sounds like a great long term goal as for one, it means one less thing to clutter up footpaths. I recall a few years ago reading that the parking meters we have are effectively obsolete and were in need of replacement. So replacing them with a phone app also sounds positive from a financial perspective, allowing more investment to be put into other areas of the transport system. Of course, I doubt removing all parking meters is something that will happen any time soon because smartphone usage is high but it isn’t 100%.

Based on these comments, I remain hopeful the app will integrate with HOP balances, plus also good to see that while delayed, the app has come in under budget.

An AT spokesman said it was “technically ready” for release but they were waiting to integrate it with the MyAT portal, where people can top up their HOP cards.

He said the app went through changes after its trial period, while technology for MyAT was also upgraded.

It had so far come in under the $300,000 budget, he said.

AT figures show there are 810 pay and display meters in the city, with the majority more than 10 years old.

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32 comments

  1. I heard they are going to make you pay money in advance with a credit card for top-ups. When the credit card expires they will then black-list you without notification, then make you queue up at Britomart and give you grief when you ask to have the old balance transferred to your new account. Oh and top-ups will take three days to go through.

    1. Ha ha ha!!! Good one. While I think it was move in the right direction compared to what we had, I just wish they skipped the whole ATHop and gone straight to contactless credit cards – the TfL type payment. They could still have the prepaid AT Hop card for the people who don’t or can’t do contactless credit card. I mean leaving the whole financial side to banks is best, and no need for all the admin and stuff up they’re going through now.

      1. I don’t think contactless credit cards were very widespread in NZ in 2012, so the system would have had to have been built to handle hop cards anyway, which means I doubt there would be much of a saving even if only a smaller number were left using hop cards by say 2017.

        1. There was already a good talk about push from the banks for them, but you’re 100% right, they haven’t made it into people’s wallets then yet…

          But the fact that there is not even a talk about contactless now, and TfL had it since 2015 just shows how slow progress is in Auckland.

          1. I should say I’d love to see contactless credit cards used for PT here, as it would save me the hassle of having to keep my HOP card and bank card in opposite parts of my wallet so they don’t confuse each others readers!

            I’m guessing it must cost TfL more to run two payment systems – oyster and bank cards, but they have made the decision for their customers benefit.

          2. Yes, it’s definitely costing them more running two systems – in terms of backend processing. But the good thing is that Thales system (which AT Hop is based on) is compatible with both. But yes, the flexibility is great, and the fact that the actual calculation of the cost only happens once a week on Sunday night means capped fares are possible, which arguably couldn’t be possible with a prepaid card (without too much complexity). What I want is to highlight this option, so people at least know about it, so one day (soon?) maybe just maybe AT decides it’s something worthwhile.

          3. Even contactless credit cards are a little old in London now in that sense. I just use contactless on my phone to pay to get on PT – event more convenient.

          4. Yep 😉 From ATHop/thales system perspective, there is no difference between ApplePay, NFC payment or contactless credit cards – it’s linked to the bank.

    2. But of course that LOS is not acceptable to motorists… Maybe the demands of this new market sector is just what we need to get the HOP backend fixed up.

  2. Reducing footpath clutter is all well and good, although wouldn’t the main benefit of such an app — were it to replace meters — be lower transaction costs? I understand ~10-20% of parking revenue can be soaked up by the cost of revenue collection, which is simply an economic and fiscal cost.

    Really good to see technology help reduce these sorts of costs …

  3. If they phase out the old (current) machines sooner than later they can sell them off to other councils who only use these meters for their parking.
    As a lot of councils still use these there will be a ready second hand market now, not so much later on.

    That will help recover some of the sunk costs in the old meters.

    Texting for a park or paying for it [with a surcharge] via a CC [or worse: “parking coupons”] is just so [late] 20th century.

    Its well past its time and good that its finally is being shown the door.

    And this also is ATs first foray into using AT HOP card for other than PT payments. A good trend that needs to be extended to paying for a lot more parking like at Park and Rides.

    Of course, with the new parking App there is a down side – you can’t “share” the portion on your unused parking payment ticket by giving it to someone else like you can now.

    As the parking is inherently attached to your cars rego alone.

    So whatever the money that AT pays for this app and infra. they’ll get their money back in spades over the next while from being able to resell all those parking spots more times per day than they do now.

    1. Based on the video the app is tag on tag off, so you don’t need to guess the amount of time you are going to stay, so there wont be any free time left over.

  4. So what happens for people without smartphones or credit cards?
    Isn’t there some rule whereby you have to offer the ability to purchase a service with legal tender (i.e. you CAN top up your AT Hop with cash at the counter), how would that work in this case?

    I’d also want assurances that this data is not stored beyond the transaction otherwise I can imagine the police issuing warrants to find out where a particular car was.

    Also, how does a warden know when to ticket a car? Do they simply run the rego and location and check whether it’s been paid?

    1. No, there is no requirement to offer or accept any particular kind of payment for anything. AT could perfectly legally require parking to be paid for in cowrie shells or head of cattle.

      All that legal tender refers to is that is cannot be refused as a means to settle a monetary debt… but only a debt. If you are just buying something or negotiating a sale where the debt is not already incurred, there is no requirement to accept legal tender.

      That is for pre pay or pay and display, if you had an account for parking that got settled after the fact, then they would need to accept legal tender.

        1. Cash is just form of payment, just like cheque, eftpos, barter etc – there is no requirement for any business or organisation to accept all or any of these and neither should there be. No one complains they can’t pay their parking by cheque.

          I agree there is a moral obligation to not make it impossible to park for ratepayers who still use this reasonably common method of payment, however this could be achieved by still having cash terminals at parking buildings. Another option would be similar to the toll road, a surcharge that accounts for different payment methods costing more to collect. Those paying with cash could be charged more (likely a lot more) to reflect the cost of keeping payment terminals in place.

      1. I stand corrected. There are still ethical issues requiring payment via a mechanism (e.g. a smartphone/credit card) that people may have very good reasons (or no reasons at all) to have. I have a smartphone and a credit card – but some people don’t. There are huge equity issues in requiring the poor to buy expensive digital devices. Some people may not have data on their phones. Cell signals can go down. Phones can break or run out of battery. This doesn’t seem well thought through.

    2. If they are integrating with ATHop then I would imagine you can Top Up your account as you normally do and access through the APP. If you don’t have a smart phone you really need to update, do they even sell no smart phone phones anymore? Even the Cheap as ones would work.

      Id imagine fines would be issued based on the number plate of the vehicle.

      1. Plenty of non-smart phones available. Under the current system, you could buy a prepay phone (non smart) without GPS, top up with cash, and pay your parking via txt – zero ability to track. Or you could pay at the meter with coins. Under this new system there is zero ability to pay anonymously.

  5. What I don’t understand is why AT are wasting money and time developing a new standalone app, when a perfectly good one already exists on the market. Mpark is used by Whangarei Council and by all accounts works very well.

    Here’s a link – http://www.mpark.co.nz/

    1. Because it is one of the rules of bureaucracy that you must never use software that is already available. Instead you write a complex specification that can only be achieved by writing a bespoke program, then you under-estimate the cost and time it will take to get the system up running and tested and then try and blame everyone else for the inevitable cost and time over run. Every government department plays this game and every Council worth its salt wants to show a similar disregard for public money.

        1. Actually, sometime back, I got email from people’s panel, and they were asking these questions – I think even then I said that they should accept ATHop as method of payment, if not the only one, so that every car driver has AT Hop card so that one day they might use PT. I think that’s what I put in as feedback… but then I don’t think they should do it at all cost, and after using TfL contactless in London, I am a firm believer credit/debitcard contactless this is way better then prepaid AT Hop, and it offers much more flexibility for the user than a prepaid AT Hop ever will.

      1. Is it? I used Mpark while in Whangarei over the holidays and found it very easy.

        As for intergrating with ATHOP, I take your point, but the app could always be modified.

        Anyways, I guess the wider point is that there is a lot happening in the parking/transport technology space with a lot of platforms out there. Auckland Airport, Wilson Parking, Wellington City Council, New Plymouth, Palmerston North etc etc all have there own slightly different parking apps using different platforms but they are all wanting to achieve the same outcome.

        For local government – why not pool resources and develop a single platform that is fit for purpose and could be used by all local councils in NZ. This is exactly what is happening in local government in Europe for parking apps and number of other transport related technologies – they’ve realised they can get a lot more ‘bang for their buck’ if they work together.

  6. Once that is done, there is virtually no cost to make any other street paid parking.

    So eventually most of the streets parking will no longer be free.

    1. They’re already not free. They’re being subsidised one way or another. We can’t keep supplying “free” carparks when the population is growing. Simple really.

  7. Another advantage of an app is they can easily do dynamic pricing, ie raise prices at times and places where demand is high.

  8. Does the app work on Android (Gingerbread), Windows Phone, Black Berry, or do people have to buy a new smart phone just to pay for parking?

    1. By the time it’s released and the only payment mechanism we’ll be onto Google Cookiedough, so i wouldn’t be worried about future compatibility issues just yet.

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