Port Stephens Council has made changes to the Nelson Bay smart parking initiative following feedback from residents and local businesses.

Since launching in December 2020, over 20,000 free parking permits have been issued and almost 7,000 transactions have been made by the Park’nPay app. Now, following community feedback, the council is making changes to the smart parking initiative to tailor it better to the needs of the community.

“We know there has been a lot of change in the Nelson Bay town centre over the last year to make way for smart parking and other improvements,” Port Stephens Mayor, Ryan Palmer, said.

“I want to thank everyone for your patience as we refine the smart parking system and build infrastructure to support these changes.

“We’ve heard from residents and local businesses that the current smart parking hours of 7am to 7pm are too long, so we’re proposing to change the hours to be from 8:30am to 5:30pm every day.

“If these changes are approved by our Local Traffic Committee in May, we’ll communicate the new times to the community and change the parking signs.”

Long stay parking for businesses and workers has been well received, and Mr Palmer said there are more business parking locations on the way.

“The data is telling us that our dedicated business parking areas are very popular and are reaching 80 to 90 per cent capacity by 9am each day,” Mr Palmer said.

“Thanks to this data, we will expand the business parking area to include the Donald Street East car park to create more spaces for workers in Nelson Bay.

“This is just one of the smart aspects of smart parking – being able to use data to make informed decisions to improve parking in our town.”

Mr Palmer said the local community has noticed a number of positive changes because of the smart parking roll out.

“We’ve seen improved traffic flow in and around the town centre since converting Yacaaba and Stockton Streets into one-way streets.

“This change has also resulted in improved pedestrian safety around the Stockton and Donald Street intersections.

“We’re getting ready to switch on a number of digital smart parking signs in the Nelson Bay town centre starting in May. These will provide live information on parking space availability — saving time and making it easier to find a park.

“All of the smaller signs in the town centre will be run by solar power, just like the meters.

“We’re working with our providers to ensure the remaining signs will be switched on and are investigating solar power options to get them up and running as soon as possible.”

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