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EDITIONS
Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK
Paying for parking by text
Parking text message
Paying for parking by text message saves stress

There is nothing glamorous about parking your car in Hull, but it could be the first place to make parking tickets a thing of the past, thanks to the internet on Wap mobile phones.

The Humberside city is a traditional place that still has uniformed parking attendants.

They are mostly middle aged gentlemen in peaked caps who wave at you like a traffic policeman in the direction of the nearest free space.

It is a city that is proud of car parking.

One warden said: "We're dragging it into the 21st century."
Lee Jaques of Hull City Car Parks
Lee Jaques: no change required

It sounds comical, but while mobile companies promised some day we will be watching movies on our phones, Hull has found a practical use for mobile internet technology.

Around 200 drivers are guinea pigs for the cashless parking scheme backed by Ericsson.

"I just call though on my phone, I don't have to rattle around for change, I just park and go," says Pauline Markham.

'Safer'

"It would be great for mum's with young children.

"You see them struggling, trying to get toddlers into push chairs.

"They need to get to the ticket machine and back, and sometimes you just don't have the right change.

No more scratching around in the car for change

Lee Jaques
Hull Car Parks

"Parking with your mobile gets rid of all of that - you feel safer just organising it all from your driver's seat."

Lee Jaques, from the car parks department at Kingston upon Hull City Council, runs the pilot project.

He said: "You register your credit card details with us and we give you a windscreen sticker showing you are a cashless parker.

"Then we send you a PIN number and an internet address to dial up on your mobile.

"Once you're connected, you scroll though a menu to pick the car park and duration of your stay. It's as simple as that.

"There's also no more scratching around in the car for change."

Warning text

Most people prefer a faster alternative phone number with a voice recognition system, which asks you where you want to park and for how long.

Once a month, your parking is charged to your credit card or bank account by direct debit.
Parking meter
No more penny-hunting

Wardens contact drivers via a text message if a window is left open or the car broken into.

When the parking time is about to elapse, motorists receive a warning text and they can buy more parking to avoid a ticket.

The cashless parking scheme is on trial at present but efforts are being made to update the system.

Steve Flemming, who is leading the council's Digital City programme, said: "In the future we hope to use mobile internet here to let people pay for everything from a bus ride to booking a squash court at the leisure centre."

See also:

10 May 02 | N Ireland
19 Apr 02 | N Ireland
09 Jul 02 | Breakfast
16 Jan 02 | England
10 Jan 02 | England
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