HUNDREDS of motorists were “held hostage” in car parks at the height of the evening rush hour when a technical glitch in the equipment of Britain’s biggest parking operator locked the exit barriers.
Drivers were unable to leave 130 city-centre sites run by National Car Parks for at least three hours after the nationwide failure of its cashless payment system. The company said 840 motorists using ParkPass payment cards were directly affected, and thousands more were caught in lengthy queues.
Motorists told of chaotic scenes on March 6 as the company’s emergency helpline was overwhelmed by irate customers, with no one available to override the barriers manually. Many took to Twitter to post pictures of cars queuing bumper to bumper in cities including Liverpool, Leicester and Brighton.
One woman, who was trapped for an hour and a half in a Manchester multistorey car park, told The Times: “It was absolutely outrageous. We were just left standing there with no one coming to help and nobody willing to even pick up the phone to tell us what was going on.”
NCP apologised “profusely” and blamed a “third-party provider”. It added: “Our customer contact centre did everything it could to help and we deployed additional frontline teams to as many car parks as possible.”
Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
This article first appeared in The Times