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gives a route into the location via a satellite navigation function. The system also sends a notification to the on-street enforcement staff via their handheld units (which need to be online) so that when they see the delivery vehicle, they know it has a waiver for a specific place and time. The system also confirms the booking to the operating company so that it knows that they got what they paid for. So far, the ACTIV8 system is being tested in the city ofWest-

minster, and early results look promising. One operator that delivers food into the capital has reported an annual £350,000 (about $560,000) reduction in parking fines. If the system rolls out successfully nationwide, there could be a massive reduction in fleet operating costs and a lowering of the temperature in the con- flict between the companies that service our cities and the people who try to manage the streets. So what could be the downside? First, of course, is the risk

that when the truck turns up, someone else is parked in the des- ignated slot and so the “authorized” vehicle parks some 25 yards down the road. When the parking enforcement officer turns up, the original obstructing vehicle may have left, and the officer mis- takenly tickets the “authorized” vehicle for parking “out of bay,” not realizing what has happened. Abit of discretion will help here, but parking systems work

best when the people on the street enforce what they see and when discretion is applied subsequently when all the facts can be considered. This scenario isn’t likely to happen often, but I can foresee more of a problem in getting the public to under- stand and appreciate what the virtual parking permit system is and how it works. Consider the guy who sees a 38-ton truck in a no-parking area off-loading stuff into a shop. He pulls up behind to go into

the same shop to load a heavy box into his car. The guy comes out to find the parking enforcement officer writing him a ticket but ignoring the truck. The finer points of loading laws and waivers are going to lost

on him. “It’s not fair” will be the cry, probably taken up by the local media.

Peter Guest is Parking Today’s correspondent for all things British and European. He can be reached at




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