Beyond apps: How might technology change parking next

Parking apps have been much discussed as the big tech disrupter of parking. But digital technologies present other options that could be useful to drivers, as out recent research showed.

More flexible parking options could be one. As tickets are managed digitally, there is no reason season tickets options couldn’t be expanded to offer, for example, 10 uses per month, or even an automatic payment that applies incremental discounts the more people park (tracked by ANPR or scanning a registered payment card).

In our research, just 19% of respondents said wanted more flexible season tickets. This suggests that the need for flexible parking to suit a nationwide flexible workforce may be overhyped, but this is nonetheless a significant minority that is worth catering too.

Similarly multi-modal journey options – eg booking a parking space, bus and bike hire in one transaction – could be useful. Our research found 33% would find this useful. This needn’t be limited to online payments – new smart terminals with touchscreens could offer these options, as well as payments for other services such as tourist attractions. In fact, 31% said they would find it useful to be able to use smart terminals to book services other than parking when visiting a town/city – such as bus tickets, bike hire, or local attractions.

These are not overwhelming numbers but nonetheless suggest a significant immediate appetite for these services, which are often not available. We would expect that enthusiasm for these services would rise if such services became more commonplace, and indeed they have been popular when deployed.

They key to make all of these work is joined-up behind the scenes infrastructure. A payment that books several modes of transport, or applies usage-based discounts, needs to create a personal identifier, for example, via a phone, payment card, or QR code – which all the system can recognise. Data needs to be collected behind the scenes to calculate payments and enforce rules.

Such services have been slower than payment apps because, by their nature, they require integrating services such as enforcement, and managing multi-party payments in order to create a seamless user experience. But they are useful, in-demand services that should be considered as part or a strategic plan for parking and transport operators.

Read our full report: Parking and EV charging that works for everyone

About the research

Our total cohort for this research was 2,085 respondents of whom 67% were petrol or diesel drivers, 2% electric, 4% hybrid, and 25% non-drivers. Then remaining ~2% were split between rarer options including hydrogen and biofuels.

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