Hamilton's two-hour free parking will continue for another 12 months, despite a hung vote from Hamilton City Council.
The trial will continue until June 2019 , but only after a casting vote was used to push through continuation of the trial.
At the HCC growth and infrastructure committee meeting, Councillor Geoff Taylor, who leads the parking taskforce, spoke highly of staff and the plan, as parking occupancies have risen in the CBD since the trial started last year.
However, an increase in occupancy was not enough for half the present councillors to continue supporting the trial, which forced a hung vote and councillor Dave Macpherson, chair of the growth and infrastructure committee, to use his casting vote to continue with the trial.
Before the vote, councillors heard that Barton and Civic precincts in the CBD have a weekly occupancy percentage between noon and 2pm of between 80-82 per cent, nearing the 85 per cent target that council staff set.
Councillors also heard the results of a survey carried out by staff that 92 per cent of parkers surveyed said that the free parking arrangement is a good idea, while 27 per cent of people said that they have came into the CBD more often since the trial started.
Councillor Geoff Taylor said the perception of the CBD had been changed because of the trial.
"Two-hour free parking has had an impact," Cr Taylor said.
"It has made an immediate difference, the retailers paying for it like it and the public like it.
"We have made a real difference to the public perception of parking in the CBD in a very short time."
Councillor Angela O'Leary praised Cr Taylor's work on the trial, but was not in favour of continuing the trial.
"I am not at all surprised by 90 per cent of the people who responded to this survey said they 'yes we love free parking," Cr O'Leary said.
"This does come at a cost of $1.1 million, and an $11 million cost in this 10-year plan."
The $1.1 million cost comes as a combination of revenue loss and reduced infringement notices.
Councillor Leo Tooman said the free parking is causing congestion in the city, resulting in accidents.
"I think the ratepayers have had enough of having to subsidise parking. I would be quite happy to pay for parking," Cr Tooman said.
Councillor Mark Bunting supported extending the trial, saying it had been a success compared to the past system.
"Just over a half of the entire revenue then was through infringements, and people just getting it wrong," Cr Bunting said.
"The system was dependant on people getting it wrong, and we wondered why we had a perception of a parking problem."
Councillor Ryan Hamilton compared the current free parking to the CBD remissions, which had helped with the CBD's growth.
"Has it been effective? Yes," Cr Hamilton said. "Should we throw this baby out with the bath water? I think not."
One aspect of the free parking plan that has been struggling is the mobile application PayMyPark app, which was rolled out as part of the parking trial.
As at 9 May 346 accounts had been established to use PayMyPark, primarily in Hamilton.
On average 6.68 transactions per day are being made using the app, a total of 1804 transactions had been made, and staff said the use of the app continues to rise, albeit slowly.
Mayor Andrew King and councillors Macpherson, Hamilton, Bunting and Taylor voted for continuation of the trial.
Councillors James Casson, Garry Mallett, Henry, O'Leary and Tooman voted against.