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Barrier-Free Car Parks | Advantages for Drivers

DirectAsia Insurance_Phone showing places of carparks that are barrier-free

The Advantages of Barrier-free Car Parks for Drivers

Credit source: Traffic Technology Today

Reading time: 3 mins

As we move into an increasingly digital era, we are becoming more used to automated systems that enhance our daily activities. Even as a driver, we expect our vehicles to be equipped in some ways to ease the stress of driving and even more so, parking. 

Developed by the electronics arm of ST Engineering together with Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the first barrier-free car-park was introduced in Singapore at NTU. It is meant to make parking easier and more convenient across NTU's multiple campuses. This barrier-free parking system was later introduced at the newer HDB flats in Punggol, Northshore Residences I and II.

How does barrier-free parking work and what are its benefits? We’ve listed all the main advantages of barrier-free carparks, and the possible impediments for drivers, so you can have a better understanding of this new parking system in Singapore. 

What is a Barrier-free Car Park? 

A barrier-free car park is the latest advancement in the parking industry. Also known as the ‘Smart Car Park’ in Singapore, it’s an intelligent parking system that does not have gantry barriers and vehicles’ entries are registered via cameras upon entry. You can also pay for the parking charges via an app, and be notified when parking charges start and end, without the need to fumble with cash cards or worry if they have sufficient funds. 

What’s also important to note, is that this system doesn’t require drivers to pre-register for the app before entering the carpark, if they don’t want to.  

How Does A Barrier-free Car Park Work?

To explain it simply, the entire system uses special cameras to identify license plates and capture tag images, which turns this information into readable data. Then, data analytics and mobile payment technologies are utilised to ensure motorists can enter, park, pay and exit the car park area without hassle.

In Singapore, the barrier-free car park system can be paired with the Parking@HDB mobile app, which is one of Singapore’s essential driving apps amongst others.  If you don’t already have it on your mobile, you can download it via Google Play or the Apple App Store. Once you download the app, you will need to set up an account with key information like your vehicle registration number, as well as your preferred payment details. 

So, every time you enter a smart car park, your registered car number plate will be recognised, and the parking fee will be automatically calculated as you exit the parking site, without having to pass through a gantry barrier. 

What if I don’t have the barrier-free parking app? 

If you do not have the app or do not wish to download it, you can still enter and park at the car park. In this case, payment can be made through the Electronic Parking System (EPS), which uses the In-Vehicle Unit (IU) and cash card.

Barrier vs. Barrier-free Parking

Besides hassle-free parking, there are other notable benefits of the smart car park system compared to barrier parking lots, for both drivers and carpark operators. Here’s a quick summary;

  • Seamless Driving Experience – The increasing number of vehicles on Singapore roads directly increases the demand for parking spaces in urban centers. So, a barrier-free car park can certainly elevate your stress-free driving experience by reducing wait time while getting into a car park. It also helps reduce congestion, in a situation when a car in front of you gets stuck at the gantry due to insufficient funds. 
  • Significant Cost Savings – This cloud-based platform allows carpark operators to save on maintenance costs besides  extending the value of the equipment within the parking area. It is also more cost-effective compared with the conventional EPS, which uses the IU and CashCard for processing parking fee payments. These cost saving measures could potentially be passed on to drivers. 
  • Additional Insights – The data collection enables parking providers to analyse who is using the parking facility, and how they are using it, for better asset management.

Possible Setbacks of Barrier-free Car Parks

Of course, as with the introduction of any new system, the barrier-free car park could potentially face the following issues: 

  • Safety: Some may argue that barrier-free car parks are less safe as compared to gantry car parks, but it’s merely a mindset change to adjust to. If your car is insured with car insurance, there’s  really nothing to worry about as most car parks have cameras in every corner.
  • Rate of Adoption: It will take a while for most places to implement the smart car park system, so, it’s likely that the current IU gantry parking will be around for a couple more years.
  • Less Savvy Users: Drivers who are not  digitally-savvy may find the barrier-free car park system intimidating and may not be comfortable in making payments online or adopting it as part of their lifestyles.

Time to Adapt: Barrier-free Car Parks Are the Future!

Barrier-free car parks may feel unfamiliar to us for now, but it’s certainly something worth moving towards given all the benefits it offers drivers. 

Either way, digitally enhanced daily activities are likely to increase over the years, so we should embrace this advancement with a mindset of collective responsibility. It is also very likely that barrier-free parking, with its many advantages, will gradually spread across our little red dot in the near future.