Technology Takes Over Paid Parking

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Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch It’s the parking of the future ... today!

Photo: Heidi Håvan Grosch
It’s the parking of the future … today!

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

I am now taking the last class of my masters program at NTNU in Trondheim and when I arrived for our first day, was in for a shock before I even entered the building. What was once free parking was now paid, as it is at all institutions of higher learning in Trondheim, in an attempt to get more people to walk, bike, or ride the bus.

It is very modern.

You pay at a box in the parking lot or parking area. We’ve all done that before. Insert your money or credit card, get a paper ticket, and place it in the window of your car. This system doesn’t work that way. First you type in the license plate number of your car, then select your language (English is an option) and insert your credit card: no cash accepted. The standard fee of KR25/hour is charged automatically after you indicate how much time you wish to stay, with the option of paying for 15 minute increments. Fortunately, if you are visiting after hours parking is free and as a student or employee, after registering your car online (trondheimparkering.no/innlogging-smartpark), the fee is only KR 3/hour.

One also has the option of paying with their smart phone using a free downloadable app called SmartPark. When you arrive, turn on the app while standing next to your car, type in the times you want your parking permit to be in effect, and away you go. The price you pay appears on your phone. As you can open the app at any time and extend or shorten your parking permit time, you avoid that frantic rushing to the parking meter to put in one more kroner before time runs out or losing money because you didn’t stay as long as you thought. However, if you are like me and have trouble even getting onto the Internet with your phone because it is smarter than you are, or if you are traveling internationally and don’t have a phone, the paybox is a nice option.

Now … if you are driving an electric car (elbil) it is a different story. You already aren’t paying car taxes or tolls; you refill your electric tank for free at public docking stations; PLUS you get to park for free anywhere you like, including paid parking lots. This is in an attempt to get more people to drive eco-friendly electric cars, but as others point out: what happens to the batteries when they die, and who pays for the electricity? But that is an article for another time … and as good as an elbil sounds, it would never make it up my driveway.

A footnote: Not to be outdone, doctors’ offices have also adopted electronic “atm-like” payment systems. Type in your birth date, swipe your card, and payment is complete. No more need for receptionists, however … the machine wasn’t very good about answering my medical question or directing me to the toilet.

This article is a part of Heidi Håvan Grosch’s column Rønningen Ramblings, which appears a couple times a month in the Norwegian American Weekly.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 19, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.