The City of Newcastle will slash the hourly cost of on-street parking by 25 per cent for users of its pay-by-phone parking app, in preparation for Australian-first technology that guides drivers to vacant parking spaces.
The discount will automatically apply to the EasyPark app, which allows drivers to pay only for the time they use and remotely top-up payments after receiving SMS notifications 15 minutes before their meter expires.
The City is currently working with the app’s developers to deliver the ‘Find and Park’ auxiliary solution to help motorists find vacant parks.
"From 1 January, the City will automatically apply a 25 per cent discount on the hourly parking rate on a six-month trial basis as a reward to drivers who use our parking app," City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said.
"We will also absorb the 10 per cent surcharge that drivers currently have to pay on top of the hourly rate when using the parking app.
“With light rail construction behind us and the city set for an exciting 2019, we know that parking ease is important to many people who shop in the CBD. That’s why we're incentivising use of the app to make parking cheaper and easier.
"The release of the 'Find and Park' add-on has been planned for almost 12 months but we opted to wait and learn from the roll out of the technology in Sweden earlier this year.
"By July next year, the app will have the ability to point out to drivers the most likely place to find a park, based on sophisticated parking algorithms."
As part of the EasyPark revolution, the free 15-minute paper ticket will also go digital.
"The ticket-based system has been increasingly abused since it was introduced in 2015 by motorists, putting machines out of order," Mr Bath said. "When drivers come across a faulty parking meter, they often they incorrectly assume they can’t park in the area for fear of receiving a ticket.
"And with 88 per cent of adult Australians now owning a smart phone, the time is right to move to digital."
In other parking changes, the trial of a morning and afternoon rate on all 1P and 2P parking meters will finish at the end of December.
A flat rate of $4/hr between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday will return in the New Year.
The move follows feedback that variable pricing was confusing for drivers and led to unnecessary parking fines.
Although a flat rate of $4 an hour will appear on meters in 1P and 2P zones, motorists paying via the EasyPark app will only be charged $3/ hr.
“This is a significant reduction in the price of parking in the city during the peak time of the day from 11am to 2pm,” Mr Bath said.
"By offering such a significant discount on the hourly parking rate, there is of course a risk to parking revenue. To manage this risk we will review the discount in time for the 2019/20 budget."
Under the changes:
- The discounted tariffs of $2.50/hr from 9am-11am and $3/hr from 2pm-5pm will no longer exist. EasyPark users will be eligible for an hourly rate of $3/hr all day.
- The price of all-day (8P) parking will also drop by $1 through EasyPark, reducing the price of the all-day No.2 carpark to just $5.
- The 25 per cent discount for drivers using the EasyPark app will also apply to 4P zones.
- The Saturday hourly rate will increase from $2.50 to $3 if using a meter but decrease 25c/hr when paid with EasyPark.
- The hourly rate for 4P and 8P zones will also be brought into line with 1P and 2P zones.
The EasyPark app can be downloaded via the Apple app store by typing EasyPark or at Google Play for Android users.
Just look for the logo of a white 'e' set in a pink square. Motorists can also call EasyPark on 1300 734 070 for assistance with use of the app.