Hobart’s new parking meters are designed to be a quick, cashless solution to meet modern demands, but many users are finding them frustrating and anything but simple.
More than 300 meters have been installed throughout the city in recent weeks along with about 3,000 sensors that form something akin to a mobile phone network.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the feedback from customers is that the meters are neither quick nor easy.
Complaints range from the screens being “impossible to read” to users getting a “server cannot be reached” message, and inputted car space numbers taken from the curb being rejected.
“They are slow, hard to use, near impossible to read the screen in daylight hours, you need to know what the time is and the park number,” complained Paul James on the ABC Hobart Facebook page.
“I am over 70 and I could not see most of the writing on the screen because of glare,” wrote Maxine.
“These meters are going to be a nightmare for elderly people not only because of the glare.”
“I’ve used these about five times already, but am still having trouble trying to select the desired time. Not at all intuitive,” wrote Chris Waller.
“Maybe they could offer a 1-week course in how to operate this pile of junk. Obviously no inkling of the KISS [keep it simple, stupid] principle,” said Andrew George Dishington.
‘We’re working on the issues’
Peter Carr, director of innovation and technology for Hobart City Council, spoke to ABC Radio Hobart, apologising for the teething problems but was confident the system would be embraced, eventually.
He said the chosen meter system was in use in capital cities around Australia and New Zealand, but stressed Hobart’s fleet was in a four-week testing phase to iron out any issues.
“It’s important to know we’re still in the project rollout phase,” he said.
To help users operate the new meters an instruction sheet was attached.
“We do need people to learn a new system. We do apologise for that. Change is hard and so the instruction booklet is a way of providing some additional help,” Mr Carr said.
Mr Carr said the server connection issue represented about 90 per cent of the problems people faced, saying “we’re addressing that”.
What to do about the glare is also a work in progress.
“The glare issue is something we’re working on,” Mr Carr said before saying it was a “physics issue” that affected all screen devices used outdoors.
Mr Carr said the new meters were installed to meet the demands of an increasingly cashless society — allowing people to pay by credit card or mobile phone instead of cash.
On that note, the mobile app — EasyPark — is not yet working.
Mr Carr said it would be brought online in another four or five weeks after initial testing was completed.
Not all the feedback has been negative, though.
“I’ve used them a few times now and have no problems with them at all. I think they’re better than the old ones by far!” wrote Deb Zwolsman.
Hobart’s freshly elected lord mayor Anna Reynolds said she was waiting to be briefed on the new meters but said reversing the rollout was not the solution.
“My understanding is this is a machine, a technology that’s being used in most capital cities around the country,” she said.
“We certainly need to iron out some of the current problems but replacing them might be a dramatic step.”