01 October 1974

First Automatic Pay on Foot Car Park in the UK

Oxford introduced the first fully automatic pay on foot system in October 1974 in Westgate car park as part of its balanced transport policy. Drivers collected a ticket at entry barriers, took the ticket with them while they shopped, paid at a pay station and were given a ticket to raise the exit barrier.

From BPA newsletter #30 (November 1974)

"The Universal Parking Meter Co., (Universal Autopayment Ltd), saw its 4P control system installed for the first time in the U.K. last month with the opening in Oxfordof the St Ebbes multi-storey car park. The split-level garage holds 1,028 and invalid carriages, and a particular feature of it is the sphere - aluminium framed, glazed with dark-tinted laminated glass, and based on a truncated icosahedron - which hangs from the reinforced-concrete second floor. This 'geometric shape of natural aesthetic' provides two floors of accommodation, one for audit and administrative staff and the other for te park supervisor and control room.

"The park has two entries, each equipped with a season ticket reader and ticket dispenser. In order to minimize delays to motorists using the park Oxford specified pedestrian payment. These are four pay stations situated at the main pedestrian entrances; two are, in fact, outside the park in the vertical circulation unit which links the car park with a large shopping precinct. When they have paid motorists are automatically issued with an exit tickets which will operate the exit barrier when inserted into the exit unit. In normal periods motorists will be allowed 15 minutes from the time they pay until the time they arrive at the exit. If congestion should arise for any reason this period can be extended at the discretion of the controller.

"An outstanding feature of the installation is the season-ticket system whereby every ticket is individually identified. Information regarding each ticket is held in a central memory and entry is automatically blocked once the motorist is in the park and is not released until he has used his ticket at the exit. This prevents the well-known ticket fraud of a number of motorists using the same ticket. The controller may also block any season-ticket holder simply by inserting his code number into the memory. This feature is particularly useful if tickets are reported lost or in the case of non-payment of account. Any attempt to use a blocked ticket results in an audible alarm together with the ticket number being displayed in the control room. The controller can then observe the vehicle registration number on his TV screen."

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