New Parking Meter Technology: Good for city pirates, bad for drivers
One by one, cities rip out their traditional parking meters and replace them with new “improved” technology. My hometown of Ottawa is no different. Many cities opt for the pay and display type of kiosk – where drivers are required to display a paid receipt on their dashboard. It’s all a cash grab for the city – reducing costs and increasing revenue. Instead, cities should use their new smart meters to foster economic activity, improve traffic flow, and generate goodwill with tourists and visitors.
The current advancement in meter technology mostly benefits the city. Consider one manufacturer, Photo Violations Technologies Corp. The name alone gives it away – their digital meters punish users in innovative ways. Some of these features:
- -Motion sensors at the meter determine if a car is still there when the meter expired
-Expired meter automatically takes picture of car’s license plate
-Ability for the driver at an expired meter to pay their fine ight away using their credit card
-Grace PeriodTM feature, giving the option to pay expired time
-Sensors resets the meter to zero when car leaves
A few more driver-friendly features are becoming mainstream:
- -Ability to add time with your cell phone
-Improved nofication of parking restrictions
-Car location directions via cell phone
Cities should not be using parking to harrass drivers – after all, the goal of parking meters was to improve rotation and minimize long-term street parking.
Current systems boost stress levels. People visiting city centers are typically occasional visitors – locals out for a day of shopping, tourists siteseeing… The stress on those users is already quite high: dealing with inner city traffic, finding your way around, finding a parking space, determining restrictions, calculating how much time is left on the meter… Don’t forget about the lost art of parallel parking!
How could meters become a tool to have a great first-point-of-contact with these stressed out drivers?
- -Along with the parking voucher, print out a list of nearby sites or shops – even coupons for nearby merchants.
-Use the “violation” video technology to see if the driver is from out of state / province – welcome them as tourists.
-Based on a neighbourhood’s actual traffic flows, offer discounted parking in low use times – or encourage drivers to “stay an extra half hour” courtesy of the local BIA…
Using the current meter technology to welcome people instead of punishing them will have longer economic payoff than gouging & looting.
BTW – make your own parking sign here