Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chill hurts parking stations

Malfunctions reported

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The cold weather is playing havoc with the city's on-street parking pay stations.

A city official said normally anywhere from two to five per cent of the pay stations are out of service at any time but more than 10 per cent have been out of service this week.

"While the pay stations in use by the Winnipeg Parking Authority are the most cold-weather-robust on the market, even they can have some issues in extreme cold weather," said Colin Stewart, manager of special projects for the Winnipeg Parking Authority.

The city maintains 617 pay stations across the city but there were 63 pay stations out of service Tuesday and 69 Wednesday.

The pay stations continually monitor themselves and take themselves out of service when a problem develops that prevents a paper receipt from being issued.

The machines are designed to operate at outside temperatures as low as -35 C. When it's colder, the LCD screen might operate too slowly for the customer to see the message, a city spokeswoman said.

A handful of pay stations will take themselves out of service when they run out of paper or if their coin vaults need emptying.

Stewart said the pay stations aren't affected so much by frigid temperatures but rather by sudden drops in temperature that result in increased levels of condensation or ice crystals forming inside the sophisticated machines, which prevents them from printing off a receipt.

The city spokeswoman said all 69 machines out of service Wednesday involved a paper issue but didn't know how many were attributable to the cold.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2014 B4

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