THE NEW cashless parking machines in Bournemouth town centre have divided the public, with many saying the machines are too confusing to use.

Whilst some people used the machines with no issues, around half the people that used the parking machines were having problems operating them, complaining that the interface wasn’t clear enough and there is no signage indicating the machines are cashless.

The car parks that only accept card or mobile payment in the Bournemouth area are Bath Road South and North, Winter Gardens and Westover Gardens. However, the Pavilion car park and the small car park by the BH2 complex, which is owned by National Car Parks, still offer cash payments.

Cllr Andy Hadley, Portfolio Holder for Transport at the BCP Council, said: “The council is in the final stages of rolling out cashless parking in Bournemouth as started by the previous council.

“Key benefits for the customer are that they don’t have to worry about having the right change, they only pay for what they use and the payment can be made contactless, offering a more convenient service. For the council the advantages are savings in terms of maintenance, a lesser risk of vandalism and no collection costs.

“In addition, downloading and using the App service also gives customers the convenience of being able to stay out longer without having to return to the vehicle to pay more.”

Following a number of thefts last August, the council decided in September to make all its parking machines cashless, which has received a lot of criticism by both locals and holidaymakers. Whilst the card machines have a lot of benefits for the council, some drivers are suffering as result.

“It’s a pain,” one woman from London said. “Where we live, it is all done through the mobile app Ringo, and it's just as annoying.”

A local man said: “On the hot days, the queues go right around the car park and people get agitated and start arguing. I know the machines are supposed to make things more straightforward, but they don’t.”

An elderly woman, who was forced to go back to her car and retrieve her purse as she wasn’t aware the machine only accepted card, said: “If you just had cash, you are stuck. They have got to have the option of paying both ways.”

People using the council’s chosen mobile payment provider PayByPhone were also experiencing issues, as some drivers said they received parking tickets even though they had paid for a ticket on their phone.

Talking about the mobile payment service, a woman said: “These things are always quite tedious. If I don’t get through to them, I sometimes just walk off and wait for them to call me.”

Another man said: “They’re trying to make things easier but, practically, it's not. They should go back to putting pennies in the machine.”

People also complained about the lack of a bin to put card receipts in and, subsequently, the amount of litter left in the car parks. Many of people also commented on the price of the car parks as well as the lack of lighting in the car parks in the evening.