“I was driven crazy and off the road by confusing parking apps”
“Is this all part of the great anti-car conspiracy?” I wondered as I encountered another complex and confusing payment terminal in Manchester city centre. My smartphone at the time was out of breath and the last thing I needed was to be told I had to download another app to avoid a parking fine.
Yet that’s what our increasingly automated, tech-driven world seems to be doing – psychologically pummeling us into becoming tech-savvy enough to actually legally park our diabolical, gas-guzzling bits of metal and therefore pollutants, without incurring a punitive accusation.
It was experiences like this that made me switch to the latest iPhone, so afraid was I of being called a parking app dunce. But I am not alone. I drove around Manchester this week, particularly in the Northern Quarter via Piccadilly, and observed a number of motorists scratching their heads in confusion as to how to pay for parking.
READ MORE:The best and cheapest places to park in Manchester city center
Of course the parking companies want us to pay with a cashless option. This is evidenced by the rapidly decreasing number of machines you can actually insert coins into.
I worry what an elderly person who has never owned – and never wants to own – a smartphone will end up doing, when the simpler options are gone. For this exercise, I parked in the NCP car park at Chorlton Street, although I considered going downtown by train, to avoid all the trauma of parking (perhaps that’s the point of all these different parking apps – driving us off the road as well as crazy). Be careful, you must remember your registration number to be able to return to your car and pay your time.
There is no ticket issued as they have ANPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) cameras watching you enter and exit. It sounds simple enough, and if you need a receipt for your financial records, the payment machine will present an easy-to-select option. But it’s also a cashless payment system, so if you left your bank card at home, you’re in trouble.
Another cashless system is the Euro Car Parks facility next to Minshull Street Crown Court, but others in the Northern Quarter, such as car parks run by The Parking Space (TPS), accept coins, as do coin-operated machines. roadside managed by Manchester City Council.
Simple Intelligent Parking (SIP), the Manchester company, offers card-only car parks, but also car parks where you can pay with cash, so it’s wise to check the signage before you pull in and park.
I have to admit I bit the bullet and loaded the PayByPhone and RingGo apps onto my phone and found that once you used them once and they remember your license plate number car, they are pretty easy to use. But it was initially a very boring experience. You’ll also find these apps useful if you’re visiting the Lake District and other tourist destinations, as I discovered recently.
I think many potential visitors to Manchester who have visited Trip Advisor to inquire about parking before their trip have received valuable advice. Mainly, it’s: “Take the train or the bus, and leave the car at home.
One contributor succinctly wrote, “Come by train, it’s probably cheaper in the long run, and safer if you’re considering getting a bevvy? Enjoy.” That pretty much sums up the situation, I would say. Game, set and match in the anti-car hall.