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Pay-by-plate comes to TransLink parking lots

TransLink is switching its paid park-and-ride lots to a new system where drivers will enter their licence plate number instead of the parking stall number.

The pay-by-plate system arrived in April at Surrey's Scott Road Station park-and-ride and at the expanded South Surrey Park and Ride.

It will roll out to others in the months ahead, according to Sany Zein, TransLink's director of infrastructure and network management.

"The long-term trend in the industry is it's expected to become uniformly pay-by-plate," he said.

Staff use car-mounted automatic licence plate scanners to quickly scan the lot and determine if any vehicle is there that hasn't paid.

For TransLink, there are minor savings from no longer having to periodically repaint stall numbers.

Customers only have to remember their licence plate, not the stall number, Zein added.

Motorists who park at the same lot more than once in a day now are assured their payment is good all day – in the past they had to pay again if their original stall was occupied on a second visit.

Pay-by-plate parking is also in effect now for paid street parking in Vancouver and New Westminster.

Thirteeen park-and-ride lots are directly managed by TransLink with a total of 4,700 parking spaces.

Drivers are charged $3 at Scott Road and six West Coast Express station lots, while they pay $2 at South Surrey and at Carvolth Exchange in Langley.

Other lots at SkyTrain stations run by Impark charge considerably more.

Four TransLink-run lots are still free – South Delta, Ladner exchange, Phibbs exchange and Sexsmith – in part because Delta bans pay parking within its borders.

The $4.5-million expansion area of the South Surrey lot has remained largely vacant since it opened last fall and pay parking took effect.

Zein said TransLink is monitoring the situation there.

He said some people using the transit exchange may now be catching their bus closer to home, instead of driving to the lot.

The City of Surrey has considered enforcing resident-only parking restrictions on nearby streets.

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