Will phone payments make car park machines obsolete?

Matt Prior opinion parking

Prior discusses Autocar’s research that found that 83% of motorists would use a machine over apps

Autocar research has found that 83% of motorists would prefer to use cash or contactless payment machines in car parks over smartphone apps.

Feedback revealed that people don’t like having to download so many apps (there are more than 30 across the UK), worry about online fraud and worry that the apps are too complex.

Dennis Reed, director of campaign group Silver Voices, called the abandonment of pay-and-display machines “blatant ageism”. I’m with him.

I reckon there’s more to people’s dissatisfaction with online payment than complexity or fraud, too. It’s not that we can’t use this stuff – it’s that we don’t want to. I think that people have had enough of the mission creep of surveillance and data gathering and that there’s a fear not of fraud but of poor tactics from parking providers.

Last year, I wrote twice about my family’s parking travails. One relative drove into a car park, tried to get the online payment to work, couldn’t and got hit with a £100 fine for spending five minutes trying to do so. Another paid for the wrong car park in his town on an app (there are two) so was fined. Both appealed successfully.

All of this is administrated by numberplate-recognition cameras and a computer that prints and sends nasty letters to unsuspecting drivers, who then have to go through a stressful, time-consuming and uncertain system of appeal. If either of those car parks had a payment machine, neither of these dramas would have happened.

I’m not one for reminiscences. But in the old days, you paid your cash, you got a chit to show you’d rented your space and that was the end of it. The government is promising to ‘streamline’ the app system. It should be insisting there’s a payment machine at every car park.

After a new job..? 

Dream job klaxon: the Isle of Wight hovercraft, subject of Autocar’s 2022 Christmas road test, is in need of a new pilot. There’s much excitement and dusting off of CVs among my colleagues.

Hovertravel operates two Griffon Hoverwork 12000TDs and is looking for a new ‘master to join its team of eight pilots, who spend their days crossing the Solent in these £5 million, 33-tonne, 78-passenger, 2126bhp vehicles. It’s the only year-round scheduled hovercraft service in the world.

There is a potential problem for motoring hacks dreaming of sunny days drifting across calm waters, however.

The job advert states: “Individuals must hold one of the following STCW95 Certificates of Competence: Master 11/2 or 1I/3 (Unlimited, <3000GT or <500GT); Master Il/3, limited to hovercraft less than 500GT on near-coastal voyages only; be appropriately qualified seafarers applying to obtain this coC under STCW regulation 11/3 as stated in MGN1856 and with reference to Annex D therein." I've no idea. But if you do, you know where to look.

Autocar’s archive continues to grow

Exciting news comes from Autocar’s unofficial chief archive nerd, sub-editor Kris Culmer. Having audited our digital archive (which is powered by Exact Editions) to find where gaps exist, he has been working to get them filled.

Page presentation and text recognition are much better when magazine pages can be laid flat on scanners. Many thanks to reader John, then, for donating his collection.

The first batch of missing issues has now been uploaded: 290 from the 1950s through to the 2000s, bringing the total number up to 6210. (See p18 for details on how you can read them.) There’s still more to come – hopefully fairly soon – in order for the archive to be complete.

We’re grateful for the enthusiasm, support and patience for what’s still a big job and something of a passion project for a number of our staff.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.