Parking Wardens: Faster, cheaper and electronic

Parking Wardens: Faster, cheaper and electronic 

Chalk on wheels is set to become a thing of the past in some Auckland suburbs with the introduction of computer operated parking wardens.

Parking wardens face competition from computers in cars which can perform the job in a quarter of the time, at a fraction of the cost

Auckland Transport put out a tender for companies to provide vehicle-mounted Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) technology in the city of sails.

AT spokesman Mark Hannan said they were not aware of another council in New Zealand using the technology.

Electric cars would circle the CBD fringe suburbs of Auckland, armed with cameras taking pictures of licence plates and determining who was violating time limits, he said. 

In systems implemented overseas, a car with a single driver and a camera on top takes snapshots of a licence plate and creates a GPS marker of where the car was parked. 

When the car returns, the system is able to tell if it has parked beyond the time limit, if so, a ticket is sent to the owner's house.

The system was trialled on Auckland's streets last year and in 2018, Hannan said. 

The system will be rolled out in Freemans Bay, St Marys Bay, Ponsonby and Grafton later this year.

It had already been used in several cities across Australia including Brisbane, Sydney, and Canberra. 

North Sydney Council said four parking wardens patrolling on-foot take 41 days to count 13,082 vehicles at a cost of A$1.65 per car. 

The council contrasted those figures with one parking warden in a car equipped with LPR technology, which could count 184,962 vehicles in 14 days at a cost of just eight cents ($AUD) per car. 

At the end of the Canberra trial, Minister for Regulatory Services in ACT, Gordon Ramsay, said LPR cameras inspected 30 kilometres of roadside parking per hour, while parking wardens on foot managed to only cover 1-2km. 

AT spokesperson Mark Hannan said parking wardens would still patrol the CBD and fulfil "ambassador" duties. 

"Around half their work is actually public relations, giving directions, helping visitors, being ambassadors."

Vehicles equipped with LPR would only be used to monitor time limits in Auckland residential areas, Hannan said.  

The tender document for the bid stated AT had moved to pay-by-plate parking and intended to use LPR for paid parking also. 

Hannan expected the technology to roll out as more residential parking restrictions were applied. 

LPR faced issues in Queensland where it was used to ticket violations of incorrect parking as well as time limits.

Ipswich City Council was forced to suspend vehicles with LPR-type devices for one month after a series of embarrassing incidents the city's mayor, Paul Pisasale‚Äč, called "stupid, dumb fines". 

In one incident reported by the Queensland Times, an Ipswich city councillor was forced to intervene to wipe a resident's fine after she was ticketed for parking a vehicle on her lawn.

On another occasion a woman was ticketed for parking a car in her driveway after she got out to open her garage door.