Janine Ryan pre-packages coins for weeks parking meter at the Civic Centre car park. Photo: Jay Cronan
A pile of plastic bags in one hand and gold coins in another, Julia Landford and her husband sit down each weekend to count out parking money for the week ahead.
Their frustrations with Canberra’s coin-operated parking machines are just two examples among the many being voiced in the wake of a report labelling the technology as faulty and outdated.
In a stark reminder of the problems, technicians were called to a broken machine just metres from the ACT Legislative Assembly on Friday morning.
Sally Haysom and Will Atfield wait for the parking meter to be fixed by a technician before getting their tickets at the Civic Centre car park. Photo: Jay Cronan
The new report by Auditor-General Maxine Cooper found broken machines were effectively losing at least $1 million annually.
It also recommended urgent upgrades to smart meter technology, a move supported by the city’s drivers.
Commuters voiced their frustrations to Fairfax Media, saying the coin-operated machines were repeatedly clogged with chewing gum or overloaded with coins.
Civic-based worker Denise Davidson said the constant need for coins meant she was repeatedly pulling into a service station or running to a coffee shop in order to scrounge enough change.
“I try every time I go shopping not to spend gold,” she said.
“It’d help if they took cards or even a prepaid ticketing system, like ACTION Buses.”
Fellow Canberran staffer Janine Ryan said it was “ridiculous” that the nation’s capital still operated on an outdated coin system.
“I don’t carry cash,” she said.
“It’s a huge issue and nobody likes to give you coins. What would be better is if it could take credit… I just wonder about whether they’re trying to strategize and get more people on buses. It could be all part of a grand scheme.”
But some commuters are concerned that upgraded technology might lead to increased costs for parking across the capital.
Despite the inconvenience of coin operated machines, Ms Landford said she was worried about a jump in fees if credit card capabilities were introduced.
“If the ACT Government pays to improve the machines, the cost of parking will go up to cover the technology,” she said.