Wollongong parking meters to cost extra $500,000 this year

Wollongong City Council will be forced to stump up an extrahalf a million dollars to keep using its on-street parking meters, with obsolete technology threatening to put most of them out of service.
Nanjing Night Net

Almost of all of the city’s 144 meters are run on Optus’s 2G network, which will be switched off onApril 1.

Although the network shut-offwas announced nearly five months ago, the council has been left scrambling to fund the upgrade.

This week, council staff claimed“extenuating circumstances” to convince councillors to set aside thenormal tender processrequired by the Local Government Act and place a$501,451 order with “parking solutions” company, Duncan Solutions.

At Monday night’s meeting, councillors voted unanimously to support the staff recommendation in an effort to keep the meters online.

However, it seems the decision may have come too late, with some parking meters expected to be offline “for a period of time” as some of the parts needed to upgrade the parking maters will not be available until March, and the upgrade will take five to six weeks to complete.

For drivers, this means there could be a long-awaited (if short-lived) window of free on-street parking in Wollongong.

The half a million dollar spend will allow an upgrade to the Optus 3G network and, according to a staff report, will keep the parking meters running for another decade.

The meters were installed in Wollongong on April 1, 2010 and valued at $1.5 million. Staff said they had only been expected to have aremaining life span of 3.2 years.

“The proposed midlife upgrade will extend the life of the parking meters by a further 10 years, if this is not done the potential failure of key components within the meters would result in loss of revenue and reputational damage to council,” the report said.

The upgrade will allow parkers to pay using a credit card –which is not possible at present –and will also install updated printers and solar power to reduce long-term electricity costs.

“The upgrade will ultimately provide an enhanced customer service in terms of the number of options available to them when paying for car parking in the city,” the report said.

Explaining why the upgrade would only be to 3G instead of 4G, the parking solutions company said the lesser technology would “be around for a considerable time to come”.

“[Duncan advised] 4G is not yet national and only benefits mobile telephony combined with large data files such as high definition video,” the report said.

“The parking data files are relatively small by comparison. In light of this Duncan is not offering 4G at this time.”

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