Drivers Try to Avoid Pay-by-Phone Car Parks, says AA

By Tom Pritchard on at

There are a lot of ways people can avoid cash these days, but it turns out people don't seem to want to. At least not when paying for parking is involved. At least that's according to the AA.

The AA quizzed 16,500 of its members about parking, and 70 per cent of those asked say that they rather park elsewhere than use the pay-by-phone metres. Apparently they're put off by automated robots and admin fees, which are both pretty reasonable concerns if you ask me.

On the flipside, however, 64 per cent of people claim to struggle to find the right change for the meter. A problem worsened by the fact that the AA recently found that one fifth of councils haven't upgraded the meters to accept the new pound coins. 50p coins aren't exactly easy to come by either.

The AA's survey also found people more likely to deliberately avoid pay-by-phone meters include 71 per cent of men, 69 per cent of women, 79 per cent of pensioners, 79 per cent of low income drivers, and 68 per cent of high earners. 61 per cent of Londoners avoided the new-fangled machines, while 74 per cent of people in the North East wouldn't ditch the cash.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said:

"Parking in town centres can be troublesome at the best of times. Not only can it be a struggle to find a space but now, when you do find one, you may be required to talk to an automated system to pay the charge – not ideal if you have an appointment or just want to get in and get out quickly.

More than half of drivers (52%) don’t care how they pay, as long as it is easy to do so. Putting administration fees on parking, not yet accepting the new £1 coin, having to enter your registration number or failing to provide change are all stumbling blocks our struggling high streets cannot afford if they deter potential customers."

A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, told BBC News:

"Councils offer a variety of ways to pay for parking, and paying by phone can be a quick and convenient way to do so.

As the AA's own research shows, 76% of councils in England have already converted the parking machines they are responsible for to accept the new £1 coin. Others are well on the way towards doing so. Having a range of options to pay for parking, for residents and visitors, is the best way for councils to serve the needs of their local communities."

There's one way you could make pay-by-phone more popular: do what TfL did with the Oyster card and make it cheaper than paying with cash. People love a bargain, after all. [AA via BBC News]

Image: Roger A Smith/Geograph

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