Why Is It So Hard To Street Park These Days?

How many apps does one need just to park on the street?

In a time before the proliferation of smartphones, parking on the street used to be an easy affair. 

All it took was just 5 simple steps: 

  1. Find a legal parking spot. 
  2. Walk to the nearest parking machine. 
  3. Discover that is broken, then walk to the another one to eventually find one that works. 
  4. Dig out some coins and punch the car number plate into the barely legible screen. 
  5. Place the ticket on the dashboard of your car. 

Now though, in a strange contrast against the march of progress, paying for street parking is actually much harder these days. That is because gone are these parking machines, and in its place instead is a mixture of coupon books and street parking applications. For which the latter is in a sense just the digital form of the former, and both of which have fundamental flaws that make the responsible behaviour of paying for the right to park on the street a harder endeavour than it needs to be. 

It is at this point that some of you might rightly question my sanity as these various means do, in the large part, actually make street parking payment an easier endeavour. No longer is there a need to find the machine and get the ticket, instead the payment process is now as easy scratching off a card or a few taps on a smartphone app.

Saying that, one can only scratch off a coupon if its is the coupon for that particular area you are currently parking in. If not, tough luck for you as now you got to hunt down a place which sells the right coupon before you’re hit with a parking fine from the marauding men in uniform. 

This then leads neatly onto the problem with the sheer number of apps out there, each catering to their own little niche location. A quick survey of the people around me, and most have at least two parking apps just for use in Klang Valley alone, with the Smart Selangor parking app being the most commonly used one. What more is that during a time when we were still allowed to travel freely, I’ve counted up to four different parking apps on my phone corresponding to the different states I’ve visited prior. 

It is understandable how paper coupons can’t have separate locations due to the different parking fee structures, but why can’t we have a centralised national parking app? Considering we have a nationalised contract tracing smartphone application done within weeks, how is it that we still need a separate parking app for nearly every state we park in?

Even more gallingly is the requirement for you to put money into each of these apps. Meaning in most cases, especially the seldom used out-of-state parking apps, that’s money that won’t ever be seen again.

Just one more pet peeve to round this whole sorry saga up is that why don’t most of these apps tell you when you don’t need to pay for parking. Like even past 6 p.m. or on public holidays, they’ll still happily take your money even when there isn’t a need to pay for the privilege to park. A simple notification within the app shouldn’t be too difficult to program in, and will save responsible drivers from needlessly paying for parking when there isn’t a requirement to. Especially in an age of different town councils having different parking regulations. 

Hence why then, come to think of it, the old fashioned way of putting coins in a machine in exchange for a physical ticket is actually a more convenient method. Moreover, at least coins are still a universal form of currency, unlike the money that is held hostage in these various parking apps or in coupons. 

Granted, e-wallet companies like Touch n Go and Boost are now entering the street parking payment game, meaning you can pay through the balance in those e-wallets. They are also slowly but steadily increasing the coverage to more and more town and city councils, though it does still beg the question as to why it took this long to have a reasonable parking payment service implemented.

Touch ‘n Go eWallet parking

There is no doubt that there are a lot of issues inherent with street parking. The biggest one of which is the lack thereof during peak hours. A problem which leads to double or even triple parking that causes frustration in towns and cities across the nation. 

That said, being the responsible driver and paying for it should be the least of the problems when it comes to street parking, but somehow we can’t even get that right. Apt is the saying then that no good deed goes unpunished. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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