Picking tabs off coupons to pay parking charges has been described by users as "tiresome" and "a real pain". The colour-coded coupons issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Housing Board are of varying values for different times and locations. Motorists have been plucking away for decades to meet different parking needs: hourly, half-hourly, day, night, whole day, monthly, two- or four-wheelers, neighbourhood or Central Business District.
A mistake invalidates the coupon. And a poor estimation of the parking time could lead to a fine.
Introduced in 1980, coupons are a low-tech answer to the problem of optimising the use of limited parking spaces and raising revenue for their upkeep. Singaporeans have long griped about the system - resentment which bubbled over last year when parking charges were increased.
Not surprisingly, many are relieved to hear that a parking app is being developed to replace coupons. The app is to pave the way for a satellite-based, electronic road pricing system, possibly in 2020, with the capacity of capturing the position and movement of vehicles at all locations, so that tolls and parking charges can be levied.
In the United States, more than 200 cities are already using a parking app. Elsewhere, smart parking systems have been developed which can signal the availability of spaces, permit reservations, facilitate pricing by the minute (instead of half-hour blocks), and accommodate dynamic pricing. Ease of use and possible savings would be welcomed by users. Integrating a parking system with information and navigation platforms could help them pinpoint spaces precisely. An app might even help motorists weigh the relative benefit of public transport options before setting out on a journey.