Sunday, October 10, 2010

Comparing parking meters

Parking meters were a constant topic during the time I lived in Rhode Island and wrote for Newport This Week. Going to city council meetings and reading local newspapers felt like Japanese water torture. It seemed like every week, people argued in letter form about paying for yet another forest of single space parking meters. Downtown merchants complained that parking meters contributed to lower sales; and 'nimby'' (not-in-my-back-yard) types went on-and-on about how ugly they were and compared them to casino slot machines.

They didn't know about multispace meters, or  ultra-modern, time- and space-saving inventions that appear in most European cities... and in our village.

It's a 'pay by space' meter. Here's how it works. You park in a space, memorize your space number, go to one of the two meters located at each exit of the garage, enter your number and pay. The meter prints out a receipt, which you can just keep on your person. The meter memorizes the time remaining in a space. No need to go back to your car.

Multispace "pay-by-space" meters.
The one on the right is in our underground parking.
The one disadvantage of our machine is that it doesn't take credit cards. But I've seen similar meters in Switzerland that do.


  1. Very good, thanks! Can I share this with Kate or do you want to add to your blog? For example, how in Gstaad the price & time allowed depends on the location.

  2. I think I want to stick to the topic of the meters themselves. I think Newporters already operate their parking lots with price and time differences according to location.

  3. Those meters are hideous, and pay by space is the way to go. But I think it's also rather common in the US (at least in private parking lots such as in shopping malls). Pretty sure that DC has pay by space that also accept credit cards. Geneva's meters only accept a "cash" card (some postfinance thing I have never quite grasped.)

  4. Alex, Newport is a bit behind the times or perhaps the city couldn't reneg on agreements bringing single space parking meters. Gstaad's meters also accept "cash" cards. I have not idea where to buy or how to use one.