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News in-depth: Cashless parking meters proving benefits worldwide
20 Dec 2011

A number of new case studies from all over the world has demonstrated how cashless parking meters that use near field communication (NFC) are offering benefits to councils and motorists.

In the UK, Central Bedfordshire Council has just unveiled a new set of meters for Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard, About My Area reports.

Available for a number of streets and pay and display car parks, they will permit drivers to pay for parking time by swiping their mobile phone across a reader.

Shoppers will not have to scrabble around for change, plus a text message reminder when they are almost out of time means they should receive fewer fines because they have lost track of the time or misread it on a sticker.

Councillor Brian Spurr said: "We want to encourage even more shoppers and visitors into the area and it's great to be able to launch this brand new service in Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable, just in time for the last minute Christmas Shopping."

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has begun switching its 30,800 parking meters into NFC-enabled machines.

According to NFC World, the initiative has been completed in the Castro district, but it is hoped all areas of the city will be quickly covered.

Motorists will also be reminded about their parking time, as well as being offered the chance to top it up from any location, again avoiding a parking ticket.

"This is one of the largest deployments of NFC technology in the United States and shows the practical benefits this technology can deliver in terms of ease of use and convenience," explained Neil Podmore from PayByPhone, which is behind the scheme.

Finally, the El Paso Times reports that the city council has recently voted to upgrade 1,300 parking meters so they can also accept cashless payments.

A spokesperson explained the new machines will help to cut congestion, as they will be able to charge varying prices depending on the time of day.

Authorities keen to replicate these projects could consider using contactless smart cards as well as NFC, as this allows people who do not have up-to-date mobile phones to use them in the same way they would the London Underground with an Oyster card.

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