Cashless parking meters trialled in Christchurch

Cashless parking meters are now dotted throughout central Christchurch to help combat damage and theft.

About $70,000 has been stolen from parking meters in the past year and Christchurch City Council has spent $215,000 repairing damaged machines and replacing coin tins.

A cashless parking meter trial began on July 8, after the council converted 65 of its 196 meters to credit/debit card only. People can also pay for parking via the PayMyPark app.

Council transport operations manager Steffan Thomas said the council decided to conduct the trial because it had seen a reduction in the use of cash. Lowering the number of cash machines also reduced the cost of collecting the coins and reduced the risk of theft from the machines, he said.

However, it is not easy to identify which machines no longer take cash.

A sample of machines looked at by Stuff found the coin slot remains and the payment information printed on the cashless machines still includes coins as a payment option.

It is only after you key in your vehicle information that you find out the machine only takes payment via a card or the app.

Thomas said there was information on the payment machines to tell people whether they took cash. He did not say what that information is.

The cost to convert the 65 machines to card-only was $860.

There were no plans to convert all machines to cashless, Thomas said.

The council had made sure that machines that could accept coins were located a short distance from the cashless machines, he said.

A 46-year-old man was sentenced to one year in prison in January after breaking into parking meters in Christchurch up to 40 times over three months. He stole at least $20,000.

CCTV footage showed it sometimes took the offender less than 30 seconds to open the parking meter door and remove the cash tin.