Easy pay for parking

The challenge: Develop an innovative and easy solution for paid parking.

Description of the problem

Paying for parking can be quite tricky at times. This is especially the case for tourists or visitors that do not park in The Hague very often. While they do want to buy a ticket, these people are not familiar with the city and might have trouble finding a parking meter. We are looking for creative solutions that make it easy for these visitors to buy a ticket without having to use an actual parking meter. As a result, if this solution proves to be a success, physical parking meters could eventually disappear from the streets.

Here is a brief sketch of the user we are talking about: he or she does not come to The Hague by car often. This person did not use the website of the municipality to find an app that can help them. Moreover, he or she does not want to buy a subscription with a provider that makes it possible to pay by phone, due to privacy reasons and because paying for parking is expensive enough as it is!

What are we looking for?

  • The solution should enable the user to pay for parking in advance. The license plate of the vehicle is a unique key with which the user can pay through specifying the location and duration of parking.
  • The collected parking fees need to be directly transferred to the municipality of The Hague, or via the ‘Service Huis Parkeer en Verblijfsrechten’ (SHPV) (see background information).
  • No extra costs e.g. transaction costs or subscriptions may be charged to the user. The municipality is, however, willing to pay for the services. This could include reimbursements for transaction costs or development costs for the application. If the service is provided via SHPV, the usual payment discount of 1,5% commission is applicable.
  • The solution needs to meet legal requirements such as the Data Protection Act.

All municipalities with paid parking in The Netherlands (and in Europe) face this issue at some point. Scalability to other municipalities (whether or not via the SHPV) is therefore seen as an opportunity.

What are we not looking for?

  • The existing services for paying by mobile phone (Parkmobile, Yellowbrick, etc.) are not seen as a suitable alternative. These services require registration in advance through a contract/subscription and collect fees after parking. These providers run a financial risk as they have to hand over 100% of the parking tax to the municipality once it has been registered by their app. Since users pay the provider after parking, they run a risk which is why these services charge additional costs to their users. An app with similar features is allowed, but it must be clear from the start that the app exists, that parking fees apply and that it is easy to understand how to pay.
  • In February 2018, the municipality of Rotterdam launched the PAY010 app. With this app users can pay for parking beforehand via IDEAL. The license plate, zone-code and paid parking time are registered in the National Parking Register (NPR). This app is a suitable alternative regarding privacy, paying in advance and there are no extra costs for the user of the app. The only downside is that the app needs to be downloaded by the user.

Background information

Currently, there are 1.785 parking meters in The Hague. These meters are used over 5 million times a year and collect €12.6 million parking tax each year. This is 35-40% of the total turnover from paid parking. The rest of the income comes from so-called ‘pay by phone parking’ (Yellowbrick etc). An advantage of this service is that one pays for the actual parking time so the user never pays too much or risks getting a fine when his or her meeting is delayed. The disadvantages are the extra costs for using the service and the fact that you have to register beforehand. Although these services are gaining popularity in The Hague and nationally, it will never be used by all people who need to park a vehicle.

Management and maintenance of parking meters costs about €2 million each year. Additionally, transaction costs are another €400.000,- per year. This is why the municipality of The Hague has decided to relocate meters in the city when paid parking areas need to be extended, instead of buying new ones. The meters are placed at strategic and visible locations. If a meter is not directly visible, the user will be directed towards it with a sign.

How does pay for parking through parking meters work

In recent years, The Hague has switched to paying for parking by registering license plates and parking control with help from scanning technology. Each time a vehicle parks, it has to register its geographic location through a zone code. Note however that The Hague has many parking regulations and rates and parking times can vary per street.

The amount of money that users pay determines the time someone can park within the tariff area. All data is recorded by the NPR. Parking control uses scanning vehicles to read license plates and checks in the NPR whether parking fees have been paid. It checks whether the license plate is registered, the parking time and location. If the scan does not match, an additional tax (parking fine) will be sent to the user by post.

Every second paid for parking by the user must be paid to the municipality. In case of debit card payments via a ticket machine, the money is directly transferred to the municipality. Payments per parking meter with credit card will be deposited in the first week of the following month. Park by phone providers pay through the SHPV. This is paid monthly, at the latest the second week of the second following month (January is deposited at the beginning of March). For more information visit the SHPV website.

An auditor’s statement must also be submitted annually, no later than March 1st. This document states that the entire amount of parking tax has been paid. In addition, it checks whether the correct rates and operating times are being used.