Payment for parking

If the site operator intends to collect money from visitors as a means of payment for parking or for general use of the area, the method and arrangement of payment collection has to be fitted into the design. There are several basic methods.

Payment at the entrance to the site

This can be by means of a manned kiosk, such as are commonly found in US national and state parks. The entrance layout is split into two lanes—an entrance and an exit—so that all can pass the payment window on their way in. In large sites where there is a steady use all year round it may be worth manning the kiosk all the time. In other instances manning it at busy times only, and using a machine for all other occasions, ensures economical collection.

A ticket-vending machine can supplement the entrance kiosk in low-use periods or be the sole means of payment collection. The level of honesty may vary between 20 and 70%, depending on the location. Local, frequent visitors may object to paying every time they visit ‘their’ site. Honesty can be increased if there is a ‘pay and display’ policy on car windows, with some attempt to control it by issuing reminders to those who do not comply. Too heavy-handed an approach may be counter-productive and reduce the loyalty of visitors, who may feel victimized. It all depends on the circumstances and the way the whole site is managed.

Any signs at the entrance must make it clear whether payment is expected, how much it is and whether there is a limitation on coins accepted by machines. The use of entrance payment can be coupled with the management of visitor numbers. In many sites the capacity of parking, picnicking, the risk of wear and tear or of overloading toilet facilities at busy periods might suggest that the entrance should be controlled to prevent site degradation and overcrowding to the detriment of the visitors’ experience. Numbers of vehicles entering or exiting can be monitored visually or automatically and notices saying ‘Site full’ posted as required. This prevents frustration; people refused access can try elsewhere without the annoyance of driving fruitlessly looking for parking or waiting for someone else to leave, with all the stress and site circulation problems that this can cause.