Phone app will help drivers find empty parking spaces in Portsmouth

A row of parking spaces and a pay and display machine along Pier Road, Portsmouth. Credit: Geograph (labelled for reuse)
A row of parking spaces and a pay and display machine along Pier Road, Portsmouth. Credit: Geograph (labelled for reuse)

MOTORISTS in the city could find life easier after councillors approved the £300,000 trial of an innovative parking app.

At a traffic and transportation meeting councillors agreed to the trial of the mobile phone app, called AppyParking, which shows drivers where empty pay and display spaces are in the city.

It can also be used for payment, charging people by the minute rather than the hour, in a bid to save them money and free up spaces. 

The app detects when a car is in a space, and when parked the driver activates the payment method.

The car's number plate is linked to app, and will inform traffic wardens that the car is parked legally.

Kevin McKee, the council's parking manager, said: 'It will help people to find parking spaces quickly, reducing traffic and congestion.

'With big events it is really hard to find spaces in the city. The app will tell you where the spaces are. This will improve the driver's experience.'

The council's boss for traffic, Cllr Lynne Stagg, agreed.

She added: 'It will cut down on cars idling when trying to find a space and therefore reduce pollution.

‘And on a personal note as a shopper if I am only going into the shops for half an hour I have to pay for a full hour. Also I won't have to worry about getting back to the car on time.' 

Sensors needed for the system, which is provided by Yellow Line Parking Ltd and Visa, will cost £300,000 - although this will be covered by Yellow Line.

If the trial is successful it is thought it could cost the council around £50,000 a year to run. An estimated 3,000 sensors will be needed across the city.

And to foot the bill of the app drivers will have to pay an additional 30p to use it.

Some councillors had concerns. Cllr Simon Bosher said: 'It does raise more questions than answers in my view.

‘What if I only wanted to stop for a couple of minutes to go to a shop, would I have to use the app to pay?

'If we are shoving a lot of money into this thing is it going to replace on-street payment?'

But Mr McKee assured him this was not the case.

'Drivers will still have the option to pay via a machine rather than the app, it is optional,' he said.

The trial is set to last two years with six-monthly updates presented to councillors.