“ Not many car users are aware of the facility as yet”

Dropping a coin, entering your vehicle number and taking the receipt – the easy-to-use automated parking meters installed in four places in the city may be one way of bringing about more discipline in parking. However, certain issues have to be addressed before the facility is replicated in more localities.

Motorists who frequent Pondy Bazaar in T. Nagar, the Mada Streets in Mylapore, Taramani or Anna Nagar are likely to have spotted these blue-coloured, tall parking meters placed near the pavements. While some of the motorists have operated the metres themselves, others have attendants helping them with the tokens, particularly in Pondy Bazaar area.

The rates are displayed on the meter - Rs. 5 for one hour, Rs. 10 for two and Rs.15 for three hours. A vehicle can be parked in the slot for a maximum of three hours, after which it may be towed away. Regular visitors say the system is more transparent and there is assurance that the money paid actually goes to the Corporation. “ Not many car users are aware of the facility as yet,” says R. Ilayaraj, a driver from Adyar, who had come to T. Nagar.

However, there are some challenges. As vacant slots are seldom easily available in stretches such as Pondy Bazaar, drivers cannot park the vehicle, get off and go fetch a token. “We wait in our cars for the attendant to come and give us a token,” he says. Also, the meters accept only certain kinds of coins. The new gold-coloured five rupee coin, for instance, is not accepted. The new one-rupee coin, old two-rupee coin and old five-rupee coin work, as long as the sides are not eroded.

Attendants have a different problem. That of some car users' tendency to leave the parking zones without paying. “They shop for thousands of rupees, but are hesitant to buy a parking ticket for Rs.5,” says A. Govindaraju, an attendant at North Mada Street, Mylapore.

By September, parking meters would be extended to cover nine more areas, including Anna Nagar, Purasawalkam, and stretches on General Patters Road, Sardar Patel Road and Whites Road. Soon, the Corporation is set to finalise the contract for a further 51 streets.

The meters, sourced from France, are powered by solar energy.

They work based on a GPRS facility, and are connected by a common server that would register details such as vehicle numbers and the duration of parking.