The city council is revolutionising the way drivers will use many of its most busy car parks.
A £1.3 million automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system is to be rolled out at 16 car parks by the spring of 2019.
It means the council has fast become a pioneer of public car parking as it adopts cutting edge digital technology.
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The introduction of the new system follows a trial at four car parks – including the busy Pound Lane site, popular with both shoppers and Marlowe Theatre users.
Drivers there have been using a ticketless system which involves cameras recording their number plates as they enter and then charging them for the amount of time they spend in the car park.
Other payment options will include setting up an account and paying automatically whenever you park, paying by contactless card at the gate on the way out and the traditional method of paying for a ticket for a specified amount of time.
The council has discovered that customer satisfaction at ANPR car parks is far higher than at its other sites.
It will also oversee the installation of easy-to-use touchscreen parking machines.
Chief executive Colin Carmichael says the new system represents a shifting mentality from parking as something to be enforced to one where it is regarded as a service to customers.
Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, the council’s chairman of property and regeneration, said: “Ticketless parking has proved very popular so we’re delighted to be embarking on this project to expand it to many more of our car parks using the very latest technology.
“This ambitious approach will make us the leading council for this system of parking across the whole country.
“The machines will be far more user-friendly and we expect the contactless payment option at the barriers to go down well.
“And for park and ride customers in particular, this will be a huge leap forward.
“The poor quality of the current machines is the one issue that keeps coming up and we’re looking forward to addressing these concerns once and for all.”
The new system comes in after a trial of ANPR at four car parks: Pound Lane and Castle Street multi-storey in Canterbury, William Street in Herne Bay and Middle Wall in Whitstable.
Canterbury’s three park and rides in Wincheap, Sturry Road and New Dover Road will be the first to receive the new technology when they are upgraded in July.
They will be followed St Radigund’s, Queningate Longport, Watling Street, Holman’s Meadow and Castle Row in Canterbury, the Gorrell Tank in Whitstable and the Neptune in Herne Bay.
The planned multi-storey car park in Station Road West will be the other one fitted with the technology.
Software firm Sagoss has been awarded the contract for the parking technology. Managing director Stuart Lawrence said: “We are excited and look forward to working with the council on this project to introduce a range of new technologies aimed at making it easier and simpler to park around the city.”