Solution to coupon parking is out there

The Parkmobile system in the US allows the public to pay for parking with just an app and a mobile phone.
The Parkmobile system in the US allows the public to pay for parking with just an app and a mobile phone. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PAUL JANSEN

For a country which introduced Electronic Road Pricing in 1998, I am surprised it is taking so long to rid ourselves of the waste and inefficiencies of roadside coupon parking.

The announcement in Parliament that HDB and URA will phase this out "eventually" is welcome ("Coupons to be phased out for electronic parking"; Feb 8). But there is no need to reinvent the wheel nor wait till 2018 or longer.

In over 200 cities in the United States, all you need is a phone and a Parkmobile app. The nearest lamp post to your roadside lot will have a sign indicating the zone you are occupying.

Just key this number into the parking app and the length of time you intend to park. Or if you do not have a smartphone and the app, just call the toll-free automated service number on the sign and follow the instructions.

The system has other advantages for drivers. You can store up to five different vehicles' details in your app, choose to be alerted 15 minutes before your time is up, extend your parking time, reserve a space in certain locations, and pay by stored value if you are worried about someone stealing your credit card details, or by credit card if you want to chalk up points.

As for the authorities, they will have real-time access to useful data, including the popularity of certain sites and precise location of offenders.

Singapore has impressive mobile phone ownership and usage rates.

The Department of Statistics' 2016 report shows eight million 3G and 4G phones in use in 2015, for a population of 5.5 million - and 97 per cent of households owning at least one mobile phone. And we certainly have enough lamp posts.

We are more than ready for an app answer to our coupon woes.

Paul Jansen

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline Solution to coupon parking is out there. Subscribe