DRIVERS in Bolton will soon be able to pay for parking using their mobile phones.
Bolton Council has approved a two-year trial with telecoms company Cobalt Technologies to make “cashless” parking available at all of its on-street pay and display bays.
Under the system, motorists park in a bay as normal and, if they are a first time user, they will have to call a number and register for the service.
They then tell the system where they are by providing a zone identification code written on the nearest parking sign, and then say how long they want to park for.
They can also ask to receive a text message confirming the length of their stay, and for another message warning them when their time is about to expire.
Customers who have used the service before — anywhere in the country—will be identified by their phone number, allowing them to use a “fast track”
Pre-registered users will be able to book parking by text message, on-line, or by mobile internet.
Parking wardens will check whether a driver has paid by entering the vehicle’s registration number into their mobile phone or handheld computer.
A report to the council says it will save the authority money on installing and replacing on street parking equipment, and that drivers will benefit by being able to extend their stay without returning to a ticket machine.
The scheme could be running by spring and the council will pick up some of the costs from its own budget, including £1,550 for signs and stickers for 50 pay and display machines and additional spending on software and licences.
Cllr David Chadwick, cabinet member for highways and transport, hopes the new system leads to a drop in the number of drivers being fined.
He said: “One thing we’re often accused of is seeing parking enforcement as a cash cow.
We’re trying to make it easier for people to park without any problems. If we can save one parking ticket being issued, then that’s a good thing.”
● Mobile phone payment for parking is already available in about 20 surface-level NCP-run car parks in Bolton.