One of the reasons people love going to parking garages (instead of using meters) is that they can leave their car in there and not have to worry about running back to it when the time runs out.  That is, until city “officials” go to Montreal and see this high-tech parking garage and figure that since everything is better in Montreal, they must copy it.

Of course, the new system is great for the city as it increases revenue as people will pay for more than they use.  It also saves the cost of having to pay for the person who sits in the booth.  Well, the system isn’t great for one group of people, the poor saps who have to park there.  It often makes me wonder if the city actually wants people to go downtown.

The downtown business don’t like it either as their customers will always be in a rush to get out of there so they won’t be browsing in their stores.  Hopefully it won’t drive too many people away from the downtown area.

For the people who do park there, they leave with the feeling that they got ripped off, especially if they had some time left on the ticket. You get all the bad parts of on-street parking without the convenience of being able to park handy to where you want to be. Of course, there are many other problems with the system:

  • The screen is really small, this is bad for older people, and bad for the lineup of people who are stuck behind the old person who can’t read the screen.
  • You can’t tell it that you want to be there until a certain time, you have to calculate the number of hours needed in your head.  This is also bad for the people who are waiting behind you as you calculate.
  • The machines don’t take $20 bills.
  • You could easily get caught in a long lineup (like at Motor Vehicles or the Passport Office) and have your time run out with no way of getting out of the line (that gets you a ticket).
  • You could be expecting a really long lineup, but instead you’re only there for 15 minutes so you paid for 4 hours worth of parking you won’t use.
  • You can get a ticket between the time you leave your car and pay for the parking.

Although many people are demanding they rip these machines out and go back to the old way, that isn’t entirely necessary as the system could work with a few minor changes:

  • Make the fonts bigger on the screens.
  • Use voice prompts.
  • Allow the machine to accept $20 bills.
  • Allow the machines to give refunds of unused time (this will solve most of the problems).
  • Don’t put the new system in the new garage that’s being built behind the convention centre, the city should have at least one user-friendly garage.

Hopefully “they” will review the situation and turn an abject failure into a minor success.  Maybe Fredericton should start acting smart instead of just talking about smart.  Many of the software  changes should be paid for by the people that made the system (Digital Payment Technologies) as they are getting $17,000/year for their support contract.