The new cashless system for parking at the airport is expected to be brought in tomorrow (Friday).
It comes after a last-minute postponement of implementing the RingGo mobile app, which the government said was to allow officers to ‘consider feedback and ensure concerns are being fully addressed’.
Infrastructure Minister Tim Crookall fielded questions about the app in a recent Tynwald sitting, defending choosing it despite acknowledging that it had received 97% negative reviews (out of a recent sample of 500).
The original parking barriers broke, seizing up after being held in an upright position for months, to allow access to the Ronaldsway vaccination hub during the pandemic.
Around £50,000 a month in revenue was lost by DoI while the barriers have been out of commission.
Mr Crookall explained that trialling the app system, at a cost of £4,150, was chosen over the other option of replacing the barriers and machines, which would have cost around £250,000.
For every £1 that the customer pays through the app, a ‘small percentage’ of this will go to the third party provider, though Mr Crookall said this would be ‘a matter of pennies’, and that the app system represented ‘good value for money’ over the replacement option.
Asked by Middle MHK Stu Peters why an unsuitable barrier system had been purchased in the first place, Mr Crookall responded that the originals had been installed in phases since 2007 at a cost of around £100,000 and ‘in successful service for many years’ – although due to their age replacements were already being looked at before the pandemic.
However, it has been reported that the barriers were never intended for outdoor use, but rather indoors only.
Speaking about the RingGo’s bad reviews, Mr Crookall said it was a matter of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’, with RingGo also having good reviews, including from one person who had used nothing but RingGo car parks in London for four years and never had a problem.
‘And if it doesn’t work we’ll look at it again during that [trial] year,’ Mr Crookall added.
He also clarified that no WiFi would be available in the car parks to use the apps (so people would have to go into the terminal to use it there), and that those without smartphones would be able to pay over telephone or get service for the airport helpdesk.