A Few Facts About Paid Parking

By Ben Bull
Published January 07, 2010

So we're getting parking meters on Locke Street. Woo Hoo!

But wait - before everyone sees a red rag and starts bemoaning 'another tax on drivers', let's consider a few facts about paid parking:

  1. There's no such thing as 'free parking'. By asking Locke Street shoppers to drop a quarter every time they want to grab a bagel or an old vase, we are creating a vital source of additional revenue for the City, money that can go towards re-surfacing our raods or creating an improved alternative transit infrastructure (hey - it could happen!).

  2. The new Locke Street meters will be Credit card enabled, i.e. not the old coin machines. Card meters create thousands of additional revenue dollars for municiaplities because they are operational almost continuously.

  3. Card meters provide more payment options for drivers. How many times have you been stuck for a quarter?

  4. 'Old' parking meters are only free after certain times because municipalities need to manage the coin collection. The cost to collect coins and repair coin blockages is significant, and the inability of old coin machines to retain large numbers of loonies means that regular 'downtime' is essential. This costs municiaplities millions in lost revenue.

  5. Card machines generate more revenue because they avoid 'overlapping' payments. How many times have you left 20 minutes on the clock?

  6. Card machines are harder to break into, and there is usually less money in them to steal. They tend to be valdalized less often as well.

  7. Some card machines are susceptible to stolen card scams, and certain non-valid credit cards can still be used. However, instances of fraud are detected and addressed through on-going upgrades.

  8. Card machines are currently powered by solar panels and transfer their data in batches throughout the day. The next generation of card machines are expected to be wireless enabled, which will allow them to process real-time transactions and drastically reduce fraud.

  9. Coin payments may eventually be eliminated altogether. By eliminating coin payments, municipalities will save thousands on the cost of emptying machines.

  10. Card machines allow for more parking spots on the road than the old meters. Small painted lines along the curb lane allow the City to cram in up to 10 percent more spots by removing the strategically placed parking spots and meters.

There. Glad you started reading?

Now, where did I put that quarter...

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2010 at 21:11:57

Although I hate paying for parking, the credit card machines will make my life so much easier. I know we complain about paying for parking, but we pay some of the lowest parking rates and fines in North America.

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By mattchall (registered) | Posted January 08, 2010 at 09:16:08

Are there any additional transaction charges that will turn that $1.00 into $2.50 ($1.00 + $1.50 "convenience" fee)? I'd rather just feed a coin. As an electronics tech, I think it's a cool idea, but I also know they are far more susceptible to failure from exposure to the outdoors and vandalism and more expensive to repair. As a driver and taxpayer I don't mind paying for meters for city coffers, but no thanks to extra credit card charges.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 08, 2010 at 09:28:28

What would be really cool is if we could buy a reloadable prepaid parking card from the city which would be used at these new meters and maybe even for transit too.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 08, 2010 at 17:21:49

hmmmm, very interesting thought. Sort of like the Metropass or whatever it's called that Metrolinx is painfully-slowly unrolling across the GTA at some point in the new decade...a card which enables you to purchase civic services. I like it. It would work at city lots too I assume? Convention Centre, Hamilton Place etc.....

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 08, 2010 at 17:29:30

Yeah that was the idea, basically for any city provided transit service, including city owned parking lots.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 09, 2010 at 00:02:17

perhaps one of these decades we'll start up a bike program like several other north american cities...the cards could be used to rent bikes too.....

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2010 at 19:27:29

imagine a metering system that recognizes your car automatically, lets you park for free for the first 15 or 20 minutes, then starts charging an escalating rate for each subsequent quarter hour interval. the longer you stay the more expensive it gets per hour. no more ineffective and poorly enforced 2 hour limit. let the price dictate how valuable street parking is for people. this could eliminate tickets all together, probably increase revenue substantially as very expensive "meter maids" would be eliminated. the punitive costs of parking tickets are a major discourager for some people and not really an efficient method of balancing the individuals needs for reasonably priced parking and the municipalities need for enforcement.

could be simply an rfid enabled card placed in a vehicle. monthly statements could be charged to a credit or debit account.

either that or just have curb mounted hydraulic rams that slowly apply pressure to a vehicle eventually crushing it like a pop can if the time runs out on the meter.

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