Code: The Age Jano Gibson and Josephine Tovey September 19, 2008 It's the ticking time bomb under your car that could be coming to a street near you. The Parking Overstay Detection System, or PODS, uses sensors in the road to detect the moment a car pulls into a parking spot. If the car stays a second too long, an electronic message is sent to a parking officer, who can arrive quickly to issue a fine. PODS has proved a revenue-raising success in several Victorian councils. In Melbourne's Maribyrnong Council, for example, the number of infringement notices issued for time-limit breaches jumped from 3734 to 7830 in the year following the installation of the system. Another bonus for the councils is they don't have to pay for the installation. Instead, the North Sydney-based company selling the devices, Vehicle Monitoring Systems, receives a proportion of the revenue from the fines issued. Ku-ring-gai Council may become the first in NSW to use the technology. A report commissioned by the council and compiled by private consultants has recommended electronic parking enforcement for the Wahroonga area as a means of reducing labour costs and forcing drivers to obey time limits. Councillors last month voted to put the report on public exhibition. "Although electronic enforcement options can be costly to implement and maintain, these costs could be offset by increased revenue from infringement notices and increased community satisfaction," the report said. It added that PODS was "extremely attractive" to councils because there was no capital outlay. A council spokesman said Wahroonga had a major problem with people flouting parking limits. Much of this was attributed to drivers from the Central Coast and Newcastle, who left their cars at Wahroonga and caught trains to the city, he said. Business owners in the Wahroonga shopping centre, which has a two-hour outdoor car park, voiced concerns the system could drive away customers. A hairdresser, Carrie Boys, said she was worried it would discourage women coming to her salon for colour treatments if they thought they might get booked or have to move their car mid-treatment. "Quite often the appointments will go a bit over two hours," Ms Boys said. Shoppers at Wahroonga said parking in the area was not a big enough problem to justify the technology. "You have to question why they want to change a system that's working well," said Liz Cooney. Ms Cooney, who moved to Wahroonga from New Zealand five years ago, said she was already surprised at the high levels of "de facto tax collection" from Australian motorists, and would not welcome more automated surveillance. The managing director of Vehicle Monitoring Systems, Saxon Hill, said he was in discussion with several other NSW councils about his product, which he insisted was not about making money, but about alleviating the shortage of parking spaces. One of the Victorian councils using the devices had seen a 60 per cent reduction in the number of overstayers in the year after PODS was installed, he said. "It's true that the number of overstayers detected increases in the short term but better enforcement changes behaviour and, in the longer term, there are fewer overstayers." A Ku-ring-gai Council spokesman said it was too early to say if the council would use PODS to ease the parking strain in the area.