Car park management: the surprising cost of boom gates and ticketing

Local governments may have this down pat, but for two federal agencies who found themselves running a side-business in paid parking the last six months have been a period of fast learning. Finding somewhere to park wasn’t the only frustration.

Boom gates and ticketing, or inspectors, clamping and towing — running a paid car parking lot does require some specialist understanding, as Canberra agencies are quickly learning.

The National Capital Authority and the Department of Parliamentary Services — as holders of extremely valuable crown land close to major public agencies and tourist spots — are learning how to run a side-business in paid parking.

The NCA moved first, directed by the government to implement paid parking in the parliamentary triangle as a revenue generator for Treasury (NCA won’t keep a cent for their own activities). Starting in October 2014, laws were changed to make it an offence to park a vehicle on open space and landscaped areas around the leafy parliamentary triangle. From NCA’s perspective, pay parking solved one ongoing problem: where do visitors to the national institutions get to park if all the spaces in the triangle are used by public servants?

It wasn’t an easy ride though. NCA implemented a “pay and display” setup involved electronic ticket machines from Duncan Solutions with printed tickets that you could pay for with coins or a credit card, and parking inspectors. Initially there were problems with the five-day tickets, which have proved the most popular for workers. However, the Department of Defence decided its staff would be subsidised, so a bespoke modification was introduced so Defence officials could register their credit card and receive a significantly discounted daily rate.

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