Wokingham Borough Council has installed more than 50 new parking payment machines across the area, which allow visitors more flexible ways to pay. In total, fourteen extra machines have been installed across the authority’s car parks.
Nine car parks have had additional machines installed, with every location having more than one to ensure visitors have easy access to a machine when they arrive.
The digital screens on the parking devices allow customers to make a pre-authorised payment with a new ‘check in/check out’ system, where they only pay for the time stayed.
All visitors have to do is input their vehicle registration, tap or insert their card and then are free to shop or go for a bite to eat. When they return they tap or insert the same payment card to check out.
This method means visitors can avoid the worry of a ticket expiring or change their plans to stay in a location with ease. The system automatically checks out all vehicles when the payment window for the relevant car park closes.
The digital displays have step-by-step instructions for each method of payment. More traditional payments by coin or card will also be possible. Whatever payment method is chosen, visitors have to put in their registration on arrival.
Customers can also pay for their parking via the Ringo app until September 2020, at which point an alternative phone payment system will be introduced via the new machines.
The old payment machines have been replaced as they were more than a decade old and were becoming more costly to repair as parts had become obsolete.
The rollout of the new machines began in April when Cockpit Path car park in Wokingham town centre was the first to have them installed.
The project covers council car parks across Wokingham, Woodley, Earley, Wargrave, Twyford and Winnersh as well as five solar-powered machines being installed at Dinton Pastures.
As part of the rollout, there has been a change to the payment process at the Carnival multi-storey car park. The automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system has been removed, as have the entry barriers. Local authorities are not allowed to use ANPR camera systems for enforcement of parking restrictions.
Visitors need to be aware they will now have to pay on entry, rather than on exit. As the new system involves inputting vehicle registration, no ticket needs to be displayed as all details will be checked electronically.
This is even the case when selecting the pay and display option. Only Winnersh Park and Ride is yet to have its new machines put in, with completion there expected before the end of summer.
“These new machines have proved very popular at Cockpit Path car park, so it is great they have been rolled out across the borough,” said executive member for highways and transport, Cllr Pauline Jorgensen.
“I would like to thank residents for their patience while there were a few teething problems after the initial installation in some locations. But the variety of payment options available means users can now be more flexible when they go out and enjoy their leisure time by visiting one of our towns or villages.
“The innovative ‘check in, check out’ payment system provides an improved service as it means visitors only pay for the exact amount of time they are actually using the car park.
"They will no longer have to play it safe by overpaying as the new technology works for them to ensure they pay the lowest amount possible.”