Parking sensors in Richmond – will they help or hinder locals and businesses?

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Parking anywhere within a few kilometres of Melbourne’s CBD has never been much fun, but now the Yarra City Council is taking measures to encourage drivers to get a move on and not overstay their welcome.

After the success of automatic in-ground parking sensors in Melbourne’s CBD, the Yarra City Council has decided to install 4,000 of the sensors in the council’s busiest parking areas.

This especially includes parking bays in Richmond’s busy sporting precinct and around Cremorne.

The sensors record the time that a vehicle enters the space, and automatically alert parking officers when the vehicle has outstayed the maximum time allowed for the spot.

Sensors will be installed in bays that already have time restrictions and not those already covered by phone or coin payment, but sporting fans, diners and shoppers in the area are likely to be the hardest hit by the change.

With the area being known to local drivers as a difficult spot to find a park, a Yarra City spokesperson said the council is hoping the new system will improve the turnover of parking bays to free up parks for more local residents.

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Busy Bridge Road will be the main target for drivers. Photo: Caitlyn Leggett

“There is a growing demand for on-street parking in Yarra which far outstrips supply,” they said.

“This is a reality for most inner-city municipalities experiencing increases in residential development and population growth.”

“Richmond and Cremorne are also on the edge of a major sporting precinct which attracts millions of people a year, many who overstay their parking which impacts the liveability of [sic] our local residents and businesses,” the council member said.

But some residents disagree. Former Bridge Road Traders Association President, Herschel Landes, told 3AW radio that business had already been impacted by $4 per hour parking that has driven customers away.

“People are simply not coming to Bridge Road, they are going to other places,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“At the moment you come to Bridge Road and you’ve got to start fumbling for $2 coins and putting in dollars and everybody just gives up and they say no we’ll go somewhere [else],” Landes told 3AW.

Mitchell questioned the council’s motives. “Yarra Council’s made 50 million for parking for two years and they’re putting in more,” he commented on his morning radio broadcast, referring to the measures.

While that might have been a bit of a stretch from the $12.3 million the Yarra City Council website claims they received from infringement notices in 2015/16, the concern is warranted.

The Yarra City Council estimates that the total revenue from infringement notices may increase as a result of the parking sensors, but insists all funds raised by the fines will go back into the community.

“This is absolutely not about raising funds,” Yarra City’s spokesperson said.

“All parking revenue is invested back into community services such as libraries, maternal child health and home help for vulnerable members of the community.”

The new arrangement is not just about freeing up spaces to promote more customer flow, but collecting data as well.

The council says the new technology will also generate data on usage trends which will ultimately work in residents’ favour. As the sensors pick up on patterns, the council will be able to review and update parking restrictions if they don’t match the demand of drivers as to better meet the needs of the community.

There is no word yet on the official date when the parking sensors will begin to be installed across the area, but residents best get ready to set their alarms when shopping or dining.  Because soon, ‘just 5 minutes over’ won’t be a justifiable excuse to stay for one more coffee.

By Caitlyn Leggett

About Caitlyn Leggett
Caitlyn is a travel and writing enthusiast who dreams of her travel blog taking off so she can do both for a living. She is kind of doing that now as a full-time travel agent and part-time writer. In the little time she has left she enjoys bar-hopping in Fitzroy and brunching in Richmond.

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