We all have parking ticket horror stories — that time you got fined while walking over to pay the meter, the time you returned to your car two minutes after your meter ran out and found it already ticketed — but for most of us, it ends there. Not so with Baltimore’s Anam Ardeshiri, who’s made crusading against parking tickets into an academic career.
According to Ardeshiri, a PhD student in transportation and urban infrastructure studies at Morgan State, the parking ticket system is unfair and inefficient. When you get a $32 (or $75!) ticket for overstaying your parking time by just a few minutes, that’s a classic case of the punishment not matching the crime.
So Ardeshiri came up with his own system, one in which cars would pay for the time they actually park — and not a minute more. Our current system, which pre-bills drivers and imposes exorbitant fines on scofflaws in order to subsidize cheap parking for the rest of us, is awkwardly set up and rife for abuse. In Ardeshiri’s proposed plan, which he presented at the annual Transportation Research Board conference in DC earlier this month, drivers would pay more money per hour — but they’d only pay for the time they actually parked (none of this accidentally over-paying the meter) and they’d never have to worry about parking tickets again.
As the Atlantic Cities’ Emily Badger explains it, “you’d pull into a parking spot and swipe your credit card at a meter in exchange for a receipt placed on your windshield. Then when you’re ready to leave, you’d insert the same receipt back into the machine – as you would in many parking garages – and it would debit your account for the precise curb time you used. In this system, the city would get rid of parking time maximums. But spots would grow more expensive by the hour (costing, for example, $2 for the first hour, $4 for the second hour, and so on), providing a strong incentive against people staying forever. And Ardeshiri proposes using dynamic pricing that would make spots even more expensive during peak periods.”
Another upside of more-expensive parking: people are more likely to take public transportation unless they absolutely need to drive. A world with no parking tickets and fewer cars on the road? I think Ardeshiri might be onto something….
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