Why Not Unlimited Parking On Street?

Suppose for a moment that you could create a device, sort of like a parking meter, that took credit and debit cards and maybe pay by cell,  and had a sensor that knew when there was a car in front of it.

Once the device was in place, you set the rates so that the first hour or two was a low amount (a buck or so depending on the stores in the areas and the type of rates that were necessary.)  Then the third hour was say $20, the fourth hour was $40, and the next hour was $60 and so forth.

Now When the person swiped their card, you remembered it until they left and charged the card the amount due. If someone parked and didn’t swipe a card, the meter called you and told you to come and tow them or give them a substantial ticket.

No enforcement (except the people who didn’t swipe, and the cops could do that as there would be so few), no cash, no ticketing, no collections, zip.

The rates could be a sign on the meter. People would argue “what about people who don’t have credit cards? — There are places in London where you can’t park unless you have a cell phone. You can’t rent a hotel room, get a rental car, or do one of d dozens other things without a credit card. Why not require one to park?

If they paid by cell, they could be notified by text the amount of their bill, if they paid by CC, it would be on their monthly statement. People who didn’t have either could purchased cards from the city for certain amounts and recharge them as necessary.

The meters could be simple as I don’t think they would need a display, just a red and green light.

Local employees would be kept out by the ascending rates and the alert if they didn’t insert a card. If they moved their car every couple of hours, it would be the same as it is now.

If a person parked all day, they would most likely only do it once.

OK, Brandy, what’s wrong with my approach.


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3 Responses to Why Not Unlimited Parking On Street?

  1. Kevin Holliday says:

    I am not sure that it passes my “mom test,” i.e., would my mom be able to figure it out? Even if she did, I know that she (and plenty of other citizens) would decry the loss of an option to pay by coin. But neither of those issues are the big problem with your proposal.

    The problem is the inaccuracy of today’s parking sensors. In order for your scheme to work parking sensors would have to be nearly 99.9% accurate and have an up-time to match. Anything much short of that and you’d have an adjudication nightmare.

    Consider a 400 parking space district (ten square blocks @ ten blocs per blockface). Assume that the average stay is two hours, the average occupancy is 80% and the operating hours are 9am to 5pm six days per week. That works out to be 3.2 parking sessions per space per day on average, or just under 7,700 session per week in the district. That would be just under 400,000 sessions per year.

    At 90% accuracy, you’d have 40,000 mistakes on your hands every year just from one district! Even at 95% you’d be dealing with 20,000 errant charges. At 99.9% you only have 400 misreads, which is probably tolerable.

    The sensors on the market today are not even close to 99.9% accurate (and the jury is still out on their up-time). Given the current magnetometer-based technology, they may never be; there is always an errant dumpster that seems to trick them.

  2. One answer to this is a device called Skymeter that is made by a company of the same name in Toronto. It is a Financial Grade GPS device that has false positives in the less than .5% – probably lower with the new version. At scale this is an option from a cost point of view. It works in the urban canyon and the data is absolutely private because nothing comes off the box other then the amount of the bill.

    So who pays ? That’s down to the business rules and the effectiveness of marketing for cashless, credit cardless, swipeless parking. Telco handset model anyone?

  3. rta says:

    Think about how long it takes for the police to respond to a call about a car break in, or any other type of non-violent crime that has already occurred. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s because of priorities. I just can’t imagine meter violations being enforced in any meaningful way unless you have dedicated enforcement.

    Study after study has shown that the chances of getting busted for a violation in a “standard” operation are minimal, I can only imagine what that % might be without consistent monitoring.

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