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Parking: digital payment is convenient but a big problem for some citizens

This year Epsom & Ewell council made the RingGo parking app available in most* of the borough’s car parks. Many residents will find paying with their mobile phone much more convenient than cash or card.

This is a useful step forward.

Among the benefits the council lists the ability to extend your stay “without a dash back to the parking machine”. A lot of drivers will agree this is significant and probably worth the 20p “convenience fee” added to each app-booked session.

But the council is right to treat RingGo as an additional service. They have wisely retained other ways of paying with cash or card.

This matters because by no means everyone who needs to drive into town feels at ease with mobile payment. In fact many would find a policy that dispensed entirely with traditional payment methods little short of a nightmare.

At Citizens Advice we know that a lot of older people don’t have a smart phone and may not use a credit card. For them a car park that doesn’t take cash is a no-go area; and if they have mobility problems they face even greater difficulty.

One of our campaigns this year is to draw attention to digital exclusion. Older people are most likely to feel the impact but going digital-only too quickly can impact other groups too. especially if the technology malfunctions.

NOTE: Citizens Advice provides online help with a range of parking problems including When to appeal a parking ticket.

* The car parks in which RingGo is available are:

Bourne HallTown Hall (front and rear car parks)
Depot RoadHope Lodge
Dorset HouseUpper High Street
Epsom Gateway (Saturday only)West Hill
Ewell High StreetStoneleigh Parade

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