Sunday, 1 October 2017

PARKING.SG: Pay for public parking fees via mobile app from 1 Oct 2017

Coupon-free parking app goes online Oct 1
Motorists can pay for parking and extend sessions via their mobile phones at 1,100 carparks
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 30 Sep 2017

Scouring for parking coupons or looking for another driver to buy them from will now be a thing of the past.

The app, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at this year's National Day Rally, makes its debut tomorrow, letting motorists pay for parking at public carparks through their mobile phones.

It can be used at all 1,100 carparks which still require coupons. Through the app, motorists can use their credit or debit cards to pay parking charges.

The app, however, can be used only for cars and light goods vehicles for now.

The scheme will be extended to motorcycles and heavy vehicles by the end of the year, the Housing Board, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore said yesterday.

The agencies added that even as the new app is rolled out, paper coupons can still be used.

The app will automatically calculate parking fees based on 30-minute blocks, but if motorists move their vehicles out earlier and end the session, they will be charged on a per-minute basis and get a refund.

This will prevent overpaying.

Under the coupon system, motorists pay 60 cents for 30 minutes, even if they leave earlier.

The app, which will be available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, will also alert motorists when their parking sessions are about to expire. Instead of running back to their vehicle to display more coupons, they can extend their sessions through the app. is part of Singapore's drive towards becoming a Smart Nation. Trials, involving more than 15,000 public officers and selected members of the public, were conducted in two phases - from May to June and from July to this month.

From the feedback, features such as parking history, which shows a user where and when he has parked before and for how much, were added.

To pay for parking with the app, motorists will have to key in their vehicle number, the parking duration as well as a carpark code.

They will be given a list of carparks nearby which they can select from when they enable the location function in their mobile devices.

The HDB and URA said they have put up additional signs at carparks that will reflect their unique code.

Enforcement checks by parking wardens will continue, added the authorities, reminding motorists to activate their app after they have parked their vehicles.

Sales manager Wandi Sani, 36, said he would give the new app a go. "There is no need to rush back to put a new coupon if I overstay. Plus, it can be tedious peeling off the tabs on parking coupons and sometimes I make a mistake and I waste the coupon."

'Summons uncle' takes abuse in his stride
The Straits Times, 6 Oct 2017

He's been railed at, offered bribes and even been hit by angry motorists. Still, Mr Victor Kumaran continues to work the ground, checking for errant motorists who flout parking rules.

Mr Kumaran, 33, is an enforcement executive with Certis Cisco and has been with the company since July 2005.

He is one of the 120 parking enforcement officers in charge of Urban Redevelopment Authority carparks that Certis Cisco employs. Another 100 officers are in charge of Housing Board carparks. The majority of its enforcement officers are males, debunking the stereotype of the "summons auntie".

Since Sunday, car owners have been able to pay for parking using the mobile app. But Certis Cisco said that there will be no change to the job of its enforcement officers.

Officers continue to use an electronic handheld terminal (EHT) to process vehicle details.

Vehicles' licence plate numbers are keyed into the EHT to check if the correct fee has been paid.

Paper coupons can still be used at all 1,100 carparks which allow payment using the app.

Mr Kumaran - who is featured in the latest episode of The Straits Times' OurSTories video series - said he had not planned on becoming a "summons uncle".

The self-confessed delinquent had spent his teenage years "fighting, drinking, smoking and getting tattoos". After national service, he could not find a job. "I tried to apply for a job at a fishball factory as a delivery driver but they told me I was not suitable for the job. I think first impressions really count and they could have assumed I was a gangster from the tattoos."

After a few months without a job, he took up a sibling's suggestion to apply to Certis Cisco. He tried for a position as an auxiliary police officer but did not make the cut.

Instead, he was offered a job as an enforcement officer and he grabbed at the chance. "I told myself that I would strive to be more than just a normal carpark attendant. I wanted to climb the ranks."

And that he did, getting promoted four times to reach his current position where he manages a team of 37 officers.

Today, his job involves deploying officers to different areas and managing feedback and complaints.

Twice a month, he still hits the pavement, patrolling carparks in order to understand the operational issues his officers face.

"There's a saying that you should not forget your past. I was previously an enforcement officer. But even in my current post, and even if I move on to a new post, I will still make it a point to work the ground and issue summonses."

He gets plenty of verbal and even physical abuse from irate motorists. "There are people who watch out for officers. When I'm not more than 200m away, I can already hear people shouting, 'Car-park lai liao'. Some of my colleagues even get called hantu," he said, referring to the Malay word for ghost.

One of the more violent incidents happened in January 2014, when he was issuing summonses for a car and a lorry parked illegally in Banda Street in Chinatown.

One of the drivers was angry and verbally abused him. The man then grabbed a wooden pole and swung it at him.

Luckily, he managed to block it. He was later taken to hospital with bruises on his left elbow and fingers. The attacker was arrested and jailed for four months.

"I understand their frustration," he said of errant motorists about to be booked. "I try to put myself in their shoes. After all, they have to cough up money to pay off the fines," he said.

He added: "They think we have a quota to hit, or that we get commission from issuing summonses. That's not true at all."

* Motorcyclists and heavy-vehicle drivers can use public parking payment app from 20 Dec 2017
Upgraded now open to all vehicle types at public carparks taking paper coupons
By Audrey Tan and Charmaine Ng, The Straits Times, 20 Dec 2017

Motorcyclists and drivers of heavy vehicles can use a smartphone application from today to pay at public carparks that now take paper coupons.

The app was released for cars on Oct 1, but the latest upgrade means it will be available for all vehicle types, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Board and the Government Technology Agency yesterday.

It works by automatically calculating the charges that motorists have to pay based on 30-minute blocks.

If motorists end a session earlier, they will be charged only on a per-minute basis and receive a refund. Charges for motorcycles will be capped at 65 cents for a day or night session at a carpark, similar to current rates.

Motorists can also extend their parking session remotely using the app, which will prompt users when their session is about to expire.

The app was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally as part of Singapore's Smart Nation drive.

It has been used by the motorists of 152,000 vehicles for more than a million parking sessions since its launch and downloaded more than 300,000 times on Apple iOS and Android devices.

The three agencies developed it so that motorists can pay digitally at the 1,100 public carparks that use paper coupons.

These coupons will be phased out but the agencies have not said when that will happen.

Motorcyclist Norman Lee, 37, said he was glad that riders are included in the initiative, but as motorcycle parking rates are capped at 65 cents per day or night session, per-minute charging schemes would not benefit them as much.

"It may benefit riders more if the app could also be used at carparks with electronic gantries that have specific grace periods," added Mr Lee, who is also honorary general secretary for the Singapore Motor Cycle Trade Association. "At those carparks, a rider is charged for the full session even if he exceeds the grace period by just one minute. In those cases, a per-minute charge would benefit riders."

Mr Neo Tiam Beng of the Singapore School and Private Hire Bus Owners' Association said bus drivers would be able to reap some savings from per-minute charging schemes when they wait for passengers at public carparks.

"But it would be more helpful if the app could help drivers locate available spots for overnight parking for heavy vehicles. Sometimes, these spaces are all full and the drivers have to drive around to look for spots, which wastes a lot of petrol," he said.

Public feedback is being sought to see how the app can be improved. Additional features, including allowing the export of parking history and enhanced map features for carpark selection, are in the works.


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