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"Smart" Parking Meters Considered Dumb

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the sometimes-a-coin-is-just-a-coin dept.

Government 863

theodp writes "The jury's still out on whether Chicago taxpayers were taken to the cleaners by a rushed 75-year lease of the city's metered parking to a Morgan Stanley consortium. But most would probably agree that the new shared Pay Boxes that replaced the city's old parking meters don't exactly live up to their 'Smart' billing. Here's what the redesigned 'user-friendly' parking solution looks like: 1. Park your car. 2. Walk up to 1/2 block to a Pay Box. 3. Wait in line to use it. 4. Use coins or credit cards to purchase parking time — up to $84 for 24-hours (add $50 if you run out of time). 5. Wait for a paper receipt to be printed. 6. Walk up to 1/2 block back to your car. 7. Place the receipt on your dashboard. 8. Head off to your destination, perhaps passing the Pay Box a second time. So before other cities suffer the same fate as Chicago, Portland, and others, is there a 'smarter' way? Some suggest the ParkMagic In-Car Meter, but no new orders are being taken in Chicago. Any other ideas?"

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863 comments

already (5, Interesting)

dukeofurl01 (236461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167793)

Yay, first post!

They have those things in Sacramento California also, they suck! I hate them! They're the worst!
I heard in some cities though that they place sensors under the parking spots that reset the meter whenever somebody removes their car, as another way of making sure nobody gets any free time.

Re:already (3, Interesting)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168113)

I'm in Sac also. It seems about half the time, the card readers fail, with an error message of, 'Transaction Declined'. I had to go to the next block to find one that would take my card, then walk a block back, so I could go into the office I had parked in front of.

Re:already (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168181)

Probably because the real reader was pried out and replaced with a card skimmer :)

Re:already (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168167)

Well, they weren't intended to allow for "free time" in the first place. It's just that sixty years ago, they didn't have much choice.
Using a central ticket machine is such a no-brainer. Cheaper, less maintanance and proper change is given. Here in Europe they must have done away with them at least 20 years ago
If your city has shitty parking policies, that hasn't got anything to do with the type of meter used.

There must be a better way (5, Insightful)

scotts13 (1371443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167797)

If only there was some sort of token people could use to activate the meters... But it would have to be something almost everyone carries. Hmmm...

Re:There must be a better way (1)

shird (566377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167933)

I think you could just type your rego into the box so that you don't have to walk back to your car to place the paper ticket. This would require parking officials to have a copy of the registered vehicles (perhaps just a wireless link to the paybox) and scan rego plates rather than just looking at tickets.

Doesn't solve the problem of having to walk to the paybox in the first place however.

Re:There must be a better way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168043)

I don't know, with the US tipping the scales, I am not so sure that walking 1 block extra (half block to and from) in order to pay for parking is a bad idea. How fat or lazy do you have to be, where 15 minutes of walking is neck and neck with genocide on your list?

Re:There must be a better way (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168121)

It's quite likely you have several of the required tokens in your pocket now. Perhaps on your dresser. Each one has a president on it if you're American. Otherwise most likely, the queen or some figure important to your country.

Re:There must be a better way (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168027)

This is assuming people ever carry physical currency with them let alone change. :p
These days I use my bank card for everything, the only time I have physical money is when I get birthday cards.

Re:There must be a better way (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168057)

What, like Hong Kong Octopus Card [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:There must be a better way (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168097)

Great, credit card readers in every meter. Let the sploiting begin.

These meters really aren't bad at all. Andrea and I had to go shopping in Chicago, and what we found was that it was a little more expensive to park, but you could pay by credit card or cash at the kiosk - you didn't have to have quarters. There were fewer people parking on the street because the value proposition isn't good for all-day parking anymore. So we were able to get a space for the time we wanted, get done what we needed to do, and didn't have to walk five blocks from the parking space we found.

I'm sure it does suck for people who used to feed the meter all day. One more incentive to ride your bike to work.

Re:There must be a better way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168103)

I prefer just carrying around a card...
http://www.newhavencard.net/nhcthome/parking.php

Re:There must be a better way (1)

wighed (1126971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168145)

There is a better way: (http://easypark.bm/) Just launched in Bermuda. Also being used successfully in Israel, Italy, and France.

Get rid of (-1, Offtopic)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167801)

Get rid of cars or people. Either one.

Re:Get rid of... Parking Meters! (3, Interesting)

o0OSABO0o (937312) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167943)

Where I live, Burbank, CA, we got rid of all parking meters -- and good riddance to boot! You can park anywhere in Burbank without paying a fee -- pull into any city lot and go to the local AMC Theater, watch a movie --> head on over to your favorite eating spot, have a bit to eat --> head on over to the ice cream shop, get a double-dipper --> browser the magazine shop, read later PC Magazine --> walk the Media Center Mall, hang out with friends --> finally head back to your car! NO RUNNING TO DROP QUARTER. Nice

Re:Get rid of... Parking Meters! (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168075)

That only really works if parking is a nearly unlimited commodity. Unmetered parking when parking is scarce just leads to people circling forever, like New York City.

I mean, sure, no payment is always the most convenient option, because you don't have to deal with payment. You could avoid the hassle of tokens or payment cards on a subway if subway rides were free, too.

Re:Get rid of... Parking Meters! (3, Insightful)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168123)

Burbank is not Chicago. I haven't been to Burbank, but if it's an economical use of space in Burbank to put down free parking lots you can't even compare it to a real city (defined by density and layout -- Burbank is certainly a real place where people do real things, but it doesn't sound very urban) like Chicago. Parking meters are put on commercial streets because if they weren't people would park there indefinitely. The summary complains that it would cost $84 to park in some of these places for 24 hours. That's the point! To prevent people from doing that so that the street parking spots are open for convenient access to businesses and city buildings. You don't want parking across from City Hall or the main library downtown clogged with commuters, so use high per-hour rates to push them into parking garages. And you wouldn't want all the spots outside neighborhood cafés and restaurants occupied by residents, so you use meters to keep them on the residential streets (where, if there is a parking shortage, the landlords have an incentive to actually provide parking, which is somewhat rare in many older neighborhoods).

Forged Tickets? (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167803)

If one were to forge the ticket (which can not be examined closely while under the dash glass...), I wonder how often the meter readers would actually check the machine data or ticket number/serial?

Re:Forged Tickets? (2, Informative)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167865)

NYC they have wireless auto ticket printers. they'll just scan your registration and print a ticket in a few minutes and let you go to court to sort it out

Put the "dumb" where it belongs (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167805)

They could be smart (at least, smarter than traditional ones), but placement, cost, procedure, etc are human (like the ones that decided where they must go, numbers, etc).

Number each spot (3, Insightful)

C3ntaur (642283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167809)

Then have the customer enter the spot number they parked in at the pay box. No return trip, no silly paper receipt to put on the dash board, no worries. Was that so hard?

Re:Number each spot (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167835)

Then have the customer enter the spot number they parked in at the pay box. No return trip, no silly paper receipt to put on the dash board, no worries. Was that so hard?

They would have to require you enter the plate number. The car has to be tied to the payment.

Re:Number each spot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167877)

BS. With the old coin-in-slot meters, the payment wasn't tied to the car. Cities got along just fine with them.

Re:Number each spot (4, Insightful)

Garridan (597129) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167889)

The car has to be tied to the payment.

Why? It wasn't with the old pay meters -- get out, drop your quarters in, and go. When you drive away from the meter with time still on it, somebody else gets a few minutes free. It would be nice, maybe, for the city (or in this case, Morgan Stanley... don't get me started here), but definitely not necessary.

Re:Number each spot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167901)

They would have to require you enter the plate number. The car has to be tied to the payment.

\

Why? They aren't with conventional put in the quarter meters?

Re:Number each spot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168035)

maximize billing so no one gets free parking. goal is to make m

Race Condition? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167811)

What happens if parking enforcement comes around while you're in the middle of the walk-wait-pay-walk process?

Re:Race Condition? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167991)

They fine you if you're black

oh wait

Re:Race Condition? (3, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168009)

Well, you'll get a ticket.

"You were on your way to pay for your space, were you? Sure, we get that all the time. You can take it up with the court in a few weeks. Mind that you remember to pay your parking next time."

Why should they change anything? The goal is to make money, and that's exactly what this will be doing.

Re:Race Condition? (3, Insightful)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168049)

AFAIK, it's considered parking if it takes longer than 5 minutes. At least in my country: If you stop the car, it's considered a stop. If you keep it in the same place for more than 5 minutes, it's considered a halt and if you halt in a parking place, it's considered parking. We have the same situation here, you have to buy tickets and put them in your window and if the police wants to prove you've parked, they have to have at least 5 minutes of footage of your car not moving while other things are moving around it. The question is: what do you do if it takes you more than 5 minutes? Now, in that case, you can object by proving that you didn't have enough time and you should win the case and that would get you rid of the fine... so the actual question is: who pays you for the time you spent proving you were innocent? The classic question in democracy.

Robots can fix anything. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167817)

Robot Parking Garage [youtube.com]

You can build them upwards, you can build them downwards. They take up so much less space than sidewalk parking. Properly designed, they can park and retrieve vehicles really freaking fast.

Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167821)

Thank God that the government is turning over more of its functions to the private market. This is a step in the right direction and I'm surprised Chicago of all places is doing this.

Re:Thank God (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168013)

I work for Dick Jones! Dick Jones! He's the number two guy at OCP! OCP runs the cops!

Bad idea in general (4, Informative)

spcmastertim (782657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167829)

This reminds me of the Gwinnette County traffic camera deal in Georgia where a private company took over a public service and it goes to heck. Granted the camera deal included a kickback from every ticket, so the company exploited the system to issue more tickets, but still... ideas like this should be brought before the public before implementation so that these problems have a chance to be thought through. Let me step down from the soapbox...

Re:Bad idea in general (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168089)

This [infowars.com] is how that kind of deal goes down in Indiana.

Re:Bad idea in general (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168133)

Being from Gwinnett myself, I'm familiar with the cameras, The humorous part is that they no longer enforce the cameras, as it's not cost effective any longer

These things aren't all bad (0)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167839)

At least you can pay with a card, which you can't to at a regular parking meter. I generally don't carry cash, and if I do, I rarely have change before I arrive at my destination. Walking half a block (Which, btw, isn't that far if you're not a total lardass) to pay for parking is a lot more convenient than walking 4 blocks to an ATM, making a withdrawal, finding a vendor to make change, and returning to the meter only to discover you already have a parking ticket.

Perhaps they could put card swipes directly on the parking meters, but traditional coin-op parking meters suck in their own ways.

Re:These things aren't all bad (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167895)

Yes, but that omg-terrible-trouble can be resolved by an ounce of Preparedness:
  • going to a bank during normal business hours
  • asking for $20 (or more) in quarters
  • stashing these quarters in your car

They even make these handy devices which can be used to hold quarters and fit in your car's cup holders, or stick themselves to something on the dashboard to the right of the driver, or....

If you don't park downtown regularly - great! $20 in quarters should last a long time. If you do park there regularly - all the more reason to be prepared and stocked up!

Yes (1)

Osinoche (769786) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167841)

Dumb, very dumb.

Old Style Meters (4, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167851)

The old meters worked just fine!!

Also, the new meters could have worked, but the out-sourcing to a private company destroyed any hope of that.

An example of their ineptitude: they forgot to put batteries in some of the meters, making it impossible to get the magic slip of paper, and then ticketed people for it.

Re:Old Style Meters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168187)

Here in the Twin Cities we have a pretty good system, old style parking meters that accept quarters AND have a slot for a debit/smart card. Simply go to the grocery store, buy a card at the machine for $5 and load $20 on the card. No carrying change!
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/parking/parking-card.asp
Yes, the city will lose a little bit because someone lucked out and got a few minutes extra, not that big of a deal. On the downside, you do have to load it with credits for MPLS and St Paul separately, the systems are not tied together. I lived in Chicago when the new system was just starting to be installed, didn't catch the part about the privatization of this service. I did think walking to the meter in the middle of the block and then back to your car did sound wasteful, esp in the winter! The only plus of removing parking meters that I saw was that there were no longer a set amount of spaces on a block, people could pack in as tight as they wanted, so that was more efficient, as long as you drive a car with plastic bumpers, and don't mind them getting scratched.

Decent system (5, Informative)

Mojo01010011 (1337759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167857)

We have a pretty decent system in Calgary. The pay boxes are easily found downtown, and the payment is linked to your license plate so you don't need to go back to your car. Also payment via cellphone is available. All in all I like the new system compared to the old time meters.

Re:Decent system (2, Interesting)

GodLogiK (650517) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167951)

The Calgary system is indeed pretty slick - you enter your license plate # into the pay machine, can pay via cellphone or even on the internet, and there's a truck that drives around with like 8 cameras on it doing OCR on all these plates. You get your ticket in the mail in a week or two with a pic of your vehicle - kind of like photo radar. I think it's called the ParkPlus system but I could be wrong.

Jury Isn't Out (5, Insightful)

Trillian_1138 (221423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167869)

Ask anyone in Chicago who isn't on Daley's payroll, and they can tell you that the jury is not out on the parking meters: Daley, once again, did whatever the fuck he wanted and the residents, once again, were screwed over.

And they don't allways (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167871)

read your CC. I stayed at the Downtown Holiday Inn and had to pay cash all week at that paticuliar lot while all the others took my card !!

It can't be *that* bad... (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167873)

I don't know, it doesn't sound all that bad...I mean really, at no point in that process was there any mention of form 26-B. What more do you people want?

they are meant to to increase revenue (2, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167879)

old style meters if you park at one with time left over then the city "lost" money

new meters when you park unless someone gives you a ticket with time on it you have to pay even if the person before you didn't use all their time

User friendly for whom? (5, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167883)

The parking meters described are user hostile to the population of Chicago. However, they do a much better job of keeping the life of the organization that bought them and runs them easy than having to physically collect coins from so many different parking meters.

The government is not the people.

e-zpass or e-zpark? (2, Interesting)

modestgeek (1449921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167891)

Maybe something similar to the toll system called ezpass. http://www.ezpass.com/ [ezpass.com]

Instead call it e-zpark or whatever. After being in your parking spot for X amount of time, charge your account for it. That way, you don't pay for time not used and you also don't have to waste time feeding the meter. You also won't be dupped into feeding the meter when they're free (such as on the weekend or after hours). For spots with a time limit, they could increase the rate after you've reached the time limit and/or send you a txt message telling you that you're time was about up.

Re:e-zpass or e-zpark? (1)

modestgeek (1449921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167907)

should have used spell check... duped

Re:e-zpass or e-zpark? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167957)

That's great for the people who do it all the time. What about the people who only go into that municipality less than once a month? I don't use toll roads often enough to use ezpass, if I had to use ezpass to use the toll roads, I could not use the toll roads.

Re:e-zpass or e-zpark? (1)

TheGreenNuke (1612943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168171)

EZ-Pass is a "free" service. It costs you nothing to have. Let the account sit for a year, and you get charged nothing. Only charges you for what tolls you owe. So to say you don't use it enough to have it is like saying you don't use your spare tire enough to have it. It does no harm having it, but sure comes in handy when you need it.

that systems will need to set up not to tag people (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167977)

that systems will need to set up not to tag people who are not parking but are stuck waiting for traffic.

Sounds like a standard system to me (5, Informative)

ugen (93902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167899)

I've seen this in multitude of places world wide. Not so popular in US but exists here and there. What exactly is their problem? Walking half a block extra? I knew people in Chicago were some of the least fit in the country but this sounds like extreme whining. Would they prefer to walk back from wherever they are every hour to "feed the meter"? Or do they want a system that lets them pay without leaving the car? That's called a parking garage :)

Re:Sounds like a standard system to me (4, Insightful)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168047)

The whole idea of a smart meter is (or should be) efficiency. It should be efficient for the municipality to collect fees, and it should be efficient for the user to use. That seems pretty self-evident to me. To that end, it is completely reasonable to expect a system that lets you pay electronically at the meter itself. Having to go out of your way an extra block, especially if you're planning on going the other direction, is completely unreasonable. And It has nothing to with fitness. It has everything to do with wasting time that you shouldn't have to spend to begin with. Smart meters should make the process better, not worse.

Re:Sounds like a standard system to me (1)

sych (526355) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168063)

Most cities here in Australia have them now. A lot of them are solar-powered, too.

Re:Sounds like a standard system to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168183)

More like 8 blocks to find one that will actually accept your card as they used cheap pile of shit readers so they could save 10 cents on building them.

You mean you have to WALK?! (1, Flamebait)

iron-kurton (891451) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167909)

It must be me, but this story sounds like it was written by a whiny 16-year old who just got his driver's license. You mean, WALK an entire HALF of a block?!? GOD FORBID you stretch your legs out upwards of 20 feet. And then you have to WAIT FOR THE RECEIPT TO BE PRINTED?!?! O-M-G that takes forever, like 20 seconds at least. The world will END in that time...

DEAL WITH IT!

Re:You mean you have to WALK?! (0)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168033)

And then there's the itchy meter reader who, while you're waiting for the ticket to be printed, goes "Oh, no receipt on this car." Ticketed!

Then you have to fight it. Enjoy your court date.

A buck a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167911)

Thats about a buck a meter a day. What a ripoff.

The System (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167913)

The system isn't made to be fair. It's made to generate revenue. If more revenue can be generated by making you walk half of a block, hell, even an entire block, why not two, then it's going to be that way. The city has no vested interest in making things easier for its inhabitants if making things easier nets them less revenue.

Especially when you throw in a kickback or bribe to certain members that have the power to vote on these things...

It's all about corruption. Why replace perfectly good parking meters with a convoluted new system that will ensure that people get fined or at least ripped off on the price? Because it generates more money. Not because it's safer, or an improvement, or healthier, etc.

Re:The System (1)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168081)

Corruption in Chicago? Say it ain't so!

It wasn't intended for revenue. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168189)

The whole point of meters was to encourage people to be quick and move on, freeing up parking so others can patronize the same businesses. That's why there are time limits and feeding the meter is illegal in many places, even if you own the car.

Perhaps instead it's time to rethink the whole concept of meters and find a better way to accomplish the task. Preferably one which leaves as few hazards in a too-narrow roadway as it is. Something like.. valet parking, satellite lots, underground parking (I understand this has been very successful in Boston, for instance), mass transit, etc.

It is clear to anyone with more sense than a turnip that individual transportation machines is not a solution that scales well. But it's tricky because it's not enough to have the bandwidth, a viable "public transportation" option needs to have equivalent or better latency, too.

Park Plus (5, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167921)

Here in Calgary there's a similar system called Park Plus. If you park downtown you have to find one of the park plus machines (they're not very hard to find, they're all over the place), and punch in your license plate # and a 4 digit code indicating where you're parked (those are on signs all over the place too). There's no receipt or parking pass though. The system is enforced by a set of trucks covered in cameras and antennas. I presume they automatically scan the license plate of every parked car and check against the central system whether you've paid or not. What's pretty cool about it is you can also setup a debit account with the system, and then pay through your cell phone- call the system once when you park to 'check in' and again when you leave to 'check out' and it deducts the payment from your account.

Re:Park Plus (1)

kabloom (755503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167985)

That sounds like a better system than what Chicago's got. It also solves certain problems with motorcycles that don't have a secure place to put a receipt where you can be sure it won't be stolen.

Re:Park Plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168077)

My friend's dad helped develop this system. They just need to write an iphone app for it now. At least it eliminates the "walking back to your car" part.

Re:Park Plus (1)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168157)

That would make parking pretty expensive.

Oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167929)

An American person has to walk half a block! The horror! The horror!

The Vancouver Solution (4, Informative)

shirai (42309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167941)

The system works pretty well in Vancouver, Canada.

You can use coins as normal or you can dial a phone number to pay by credit card. Each meter has a number used to identify it.

The first time you use it, you have to register a license and your credit card number. After that, it remembers it based on your caller id I would imagine. You can register multiple cars no problem. It's a bit of a pain enter your license the first time you use it (it would be nice if you could try to use voice recognition first) but after the first time, it's pretty smooth.

The nice thing is that you don't have to go back to your car when you run out of time. To me, that is the biggest pain of street parking. Forget that you have to go half a block to pay for parking. If you have to run back from a few blocks, or in the middle of eating, that is even worse. With the system, we just call the number again and it asks if you want to extend your time. You just enter how many minutes.

I usually use it like this: (a) put in as many coins as I have and take a picture of the meter which has the id number with my iPhone (b) if I'm not back by the amount of time I got from the coins, I call and add time.

Re:The Vancouver Solution (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168007)

I was going to mention this system. It works really, really well, after you've registered, and registering by phone actually isn't that hard. You even get sent an SMS just before your time runs out, so you can add time from wherever you are.

We have those in DC and.... (2, Insightful)

laxsu19 (1256044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167967)

They make me furious! Okay, so the buttons are not well labeled, because these things sit in the sun all day and of course, the stickers, and the LCD screen will fade/lose intensity and become unreadable. Well, there is a button next to the add-time button that is 'add maximum time'. Okay, so what if you accidentally press that (which I've done) and cant see the dollar amount it tells you, it just says 'REMOVE CARD' and you have to remove your credit card to get it back, so when you remove it, it swipes, and boom, the transaction goes through for the maximum amount of time possible! So, yes I could have avoided it had I 1) not pressed the wrong button 2) been able to see the screen 3)known what happened and pressed the cancel button - BUT NONE of those happened and instead I paid more than I've ever paid for parking - including in a garage. Great engineering their folks.

A real solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167969)

In Ireland we have nearly identical meters... there a pain in the ass.

Here's my suggestion - give people 3 options,

A) Walk to meter, pay, print ticket, place on car.
B) Walk to meter, pay, enter reg number.
C) Place signs every 100M or so giving you the "street id" - call a number from your cell, enter this number and how long you plan on staying, pay via your phone bill or preconfigured credit card.

I vote for c.

ParkMagic and the smart meters are stealing your $ (4, Insightful)

kabloom (755503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167971)

The ParkMagic in-car meter is a scam on the part of the city to steal your paid-for parking time from you. (To be fair, the new smart meters a half a block away from you are probably a scam too). It used to be that if you had extra time on the meter, someone else could park there for the extra time and save themselves money. Considering that if someone else left with extra time you could park in their spot and take advantage of the free time, over the long run it would tend to average out that you were only paying for the actual time you spent parked in your spot.

Now with the new changes, nobody else can take advantage of leftover time on your meter when you leave, and you can't get any kind of refund. So all of the extra time that people pay for -- the city's getting their money for free.

Re:ParkMagic and the smart meters are stealing you (1)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168203)

Uh, before smart meters, the person after you was "stealing" from you due to a technical deficiency, now they're not. In fact, in Portland, you can move your car to a different spot and still use the remaining time, as long as you abide by the per-block time limits (usually 90 minutes). And by the way, if parking is so horrible on the street, private garages will arise to compete and wring out any surplus.

When I lived in Denmark... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167975)

When I lived in Denmark about 10 years ago, they had meters that interfaced with cell phones via SMS. You just rolled up and SMS the meter with the amount of hours you needed and the systems bills you via the mobile carrier. It was pretty sweet. Not sure if it is still in use.

Seattle has these.. (1)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167979)

and I've never had a problem with them. However, I've never had to walk more than a few cars down to use one. I've never been more than 2nd in line (possibly because there are usually a couple close to where I park to choose from), and never thought to myself that I wish there the old-style meters.

Also, people are usually pretty good and stick their unused time back on the meter for others to use. You're not supposed to, but it always feels good to give or get.

Overall, I'm happy with the system.

Print from home or pay via text? (1)

craigeryjohn (1153079) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167981)

How about pre-paid parking slips you can print from home and place in your window? They could have a barcode that someone scans to make sure it's valid. OR, text your parking order, pay via text, and the system texts back a unique code for the day or the time period. Hand-write this code on a piece of paper, slap it in your window, and the meter reader can use a hand-held device to check the validity of the code. Or, you can text your parking 'order' while in your car. You just run and pick up your slip to put in your window (instead of paying at the parking hub, you just type in a code in a separate line and pick up your ticket).

what a travesty /sarcasm (5, Interesting)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167983)

Please. How is this any different then metered parking with a meter at every space except you have to walk /up to/ half a block. Oh noes! Note most of the time you'll be walking much less then half a block statistically. Plus these take credit cards and cash. No more worries about carring around useless change in your car for the meter. It would be too expesinve and silly to place a machine that takes credit cards and cash at every space, not to mention expensive to maintain and empty.

Everyone says they want cities to stop over spending on infrastructure and to have realistic services but every time they inconvenience you just a little bit it's back to "spend spend spend! I can't walk half a block!"

Park by Phone (1)

MarkOnBoat (900698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167993)

The town of Wrightsville Beach, NC uses regular parking meters. In additon to using coins, each meter has a unique serial numbered clearly marked, and you can pay for your parking using your cell phone. You have to sign up online - I managed to sign up via my BlackBerry for the first use. It's really convenient and best of all - you can "feed the meter" via cell phone without returning to your car. http://www.park-by-phone.com/ [park-by-phone.com]

Pay by phone (1)

AndrewRUK (543993) | more than 4 years ago | (#29167997)

One system that I've seen is Pay by Phone [westminster.gov.uk] . I've not used it myself, but how it works is that each parking space has a number which you enter over the phone along with your vehicle registration number, how long you're staying, and your credit card details. The system allows you to add extra time over the phone, and avoids problems with broken/vandalised meters.

online? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168001)

what about some kind of service that works online and/or through the phone? every parking spot could have a unique id that is easy to find, and purchasing the spot could be done on a [smart] phone. of course it would be trickier for a meter maid to determine if a spot is paid for, but i'm sure they could come up with some way to solve this...

These could be a good thing (3, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168017)

Similar installations have been deployed where I live, and have already had one major benefit:

Fewer people are taking cars in to town.

Though I'm not sure the local retailers share my enthusiasm on that one.

What is the problem exactly? (1)

kzieli (1355557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168019)

Other then slowly loosing your ability to walk I don't see what the problem is. Most parking meters in Sydney work in exactly this fashion. I've actually never seen the old style meter per car system used anywhere. About the only parking meter system that has annoyed me was a numbered bay system where you have to walk up to the machine and tell it which pay you are in and then pay the fee. And if you accidentally pay for the wrong bay, well then it sucks to be you.

Re:What is the problem exactly? (1)

cratermoon (765155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168143)

This is slashdot. Walking 1/2 block is considered exercise, and gets the average slashdotter winded. A block and a half is a freaking marathon to them. Or wait -- maybe the problem is that the block size is too big? If there are fewer than 20 blocks/mile, like in Portland, OR, the grid is too spread out and there should be more than 1 meter/block. Guess what? Many cities are 10-15, but Chicago has a grid of just eight blocks per mile.

Parking meters (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168021)

In Ottawa, Canada, they have a few different types of parking:

Both Pay and Display and Pay on Foot allow for either credit cards or "parking cards" (Smart cards that carry a cash-equivalent balance) to be used. http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/parking/automated/parking_cards/parking_card_use_en.html [ottawa.ca] ). Parking meters can accept both coins and parking cards.

Works for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168023)

As a Portland resident, I don't see what the big deal is. The previous scenario was far worse.

Better know exactly how long you want to park. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168039)

Another thing we've noticed about the new meters is that you can't add an arbitrary amount of extra time. The receipt prints with an expiration date, so if you've already paid for 2 hours but realize you need 3, you can't just buy another hour... you would need to pay for another 3 full hours to get a receipt with the proper expiration time.

This is honestly a problem? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168041)

I'm a Portland resident and have been in constant contact with these meters since they were installed a few years back. Seriously, they are not that bad! I don't know why there is even a debate about them. They are reasonably dispersed in Portland, so the "have to walk" argument does not apply. The price is about what you would expect for street parking... And anybody stupid enough to be street parking for 24 hours deserves the cost. You need overnight? Try a garage. Much cheaper.

So far, no drawbacks. Plus you can use a credit/debit card. I was thrilled when these went in here in Portland, and I haven't changed my mind yet.

Can somebody please give a solid answer as to why these meters are a problem?

scratch-off cards (5, Interesting)

redfood (471234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168051)

In a number of cities in Israel you purchase scratch-off cards in connivence-stores. When you want to park you scratch the date/time off the card (to "activate" it) and hang it in your window. I think its pretty brilliant. No physical infrastructure to maintain. To money/coins to collect. If the city wants to change the price of parking - they just change it. No machines to update.

Re:scratch-off cards (5, Informative)

redfood (471234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168061)

I should have mentioned that typically you buy the cards in advance and keep them in your glove compartment. You don't normally have to find a store, buy a ticket, and then return to your car.

no car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29168053)

These meters do suck, but they do clear up a lot of space on the sidewalks for pedestrians.
Also, Chicago is a great place to not have a car. That 24 hour rate is about the same as an unlimited monthly pass for the CTA.
That's how I roll!

They aren't all bad... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168071)

I moved from a place that uses old coin-driven meters to a place that uses "smart" meters with paystations like what is described in the summary. I for one actually prefer the smart meters over the coin-driven meters for a few reasons:
  • The new ones don't require a pocket full of quarters
  • The new ones know accurate time and when they are under enforcement
  • You can take a pass from one spot to another if a better spot opens up before you are out of time
  • Parking receipts help keep meter maids honest; your slip shows what time you really paid for

A step in the right direction! (1)

mothlos (832302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168127)

It's a problem that you don't have to carry around pockets full of change and pay a sizable portion of it just in the servicing of thousands of machines all over town? Too bad all of the profits and savings are now going to a private profit making entity instead of your tax coffers.

I hope that the inconvenience finally gets people to start parking outside of the city center and cities will invest more heavily in public transit. Maybe we can turn to digging up some of these streets and putting in useable space for people instead.

OP goes grocery shopping (5, Funny)

BitHive (578094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168131)

1. Park your car.
2. Walk up to 1/2 block to store entrance.
3. Wait in line to enter and obtain a cart.
4. Pass the checkout counters and walk the equivalent of two or three blocks inside the stoor while manually loading groceries.
5. Wait in line to pay using coins or credit cards.
6. Wait for a paper receipt to be printed.
7. Walk up to 1/2 block back to your car.
8. Place the groceries in the car.
9. Head off to your destination.
10. Carry groceries inside destination.
11. Store groceries in various locations depending on consumability and shelf life at room temperature.

Embarassingly, it is already like this in Portland, Chicago and other cities worldwide.

Expensive, but better than fixed meters (1)

rnelsonee (98732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168161)

We have these all over in Baltimore - they just put them on my street this summer. Although they're usually more expensive (our city is on the cusp of allowing the meters to charge $3/hr.), they're still a good solution.

First of all, it's not that hard to use. You walk half a block, and stick a piece of paper on your dash. It's not that hard.

The advantages come into play because you can now fit more cars on a city block. With no fixed meters, more cars can (and do) fit in so long as people park with a modicum of skill. This is actually the impetus for installing the meters everywhere - more cars = more revenue for the city. But that's fine - I want my city to have money because then they can make the city better (I'm not adopting the "us vs. them" mentality for issues like parking revenue...). Personally, if you can fit more cars by the venues I want to go to, that's good for me.

The other moneymaker for the city is that it's easier to double dip on spots - before if someone put in 1 hours' worth of quarters, and then left half an hour later, a second person could pull in and get a free half hour. With these meters, the original driver usually drives away with the original ticket and the second person has to pay for that half hour as well. Of course, people are working their way around that by leaving their still-valid tickets by the machine, but this requires a) altruism and b) effort, both of which are usually in short supply in the city :)

Best solution? Transit (1)

gilroy (155262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168173)

How about get rid of private autos in the city entirely and improve the mass transit? I don't know how/if this would work for Chicago. But it's the best way forward in Manhattan, I can tell you.

So what? (2, Insightful)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168191)

Whining about walking half a block. No wonder that not only does everybody think Americans are fat and lazy but that we really are. Come on, it's just a few parking spots well within sight of your car. If you have trouble walking that far and back, you really have no business even leaving your assisted care facility that you must live in.

Anyway, Seattle has the same ones that Portland has and they're great. Get a sticker to put on your car that can be paid with a card if you don't have tons of change. Works for the time you buy anywhere in the city. I can buy one sticker and be good for an afternoon of running errands. If the meter by my car is broke, I can just walk to the next one and still pay. (Jesus, an around the corner walk must make it not worth leaving the house for TFA poster. I can only wonder how they always manage to get a parking spot in front of where they want to go.)

If I was to bitch about such things, it would be because in Seattle, now that they've replaced all the old parking meters (which were usually broken and misread the time time elapsed anyway), they've started putting them in all the places that used to be free parking. It's getting harder and harder to find a spot thats not metered. Since I live in the older part of town (Capitol Hill) near downtown, street parking near my apartment which was hard enough to come by in a neighborhood where lots of buildings predate the common use of the car is now disappearing all together.

Ridiculous! (5, Funny)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168193)

6. Walk up to 1/2 block back to your car.

Oh my god. I dropped my cheesy fries, ice cream and XXL soda and almost had a heart attack just thinking about walking up to half a block! Please resuscitate me when somebody comes up with a drive-through parking meter payment system.

University of Minnesota (1)

DJ Particle (1442247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29168199)

U of M tried this last year. Apparently didn't work, as conventional meters were restored to the block within 6 months.
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