Tag: parking meters

Would Baltimore Be Better Off with More Expensive Parking Rates?

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Hey Baltimore, how does less traffic, more open parking spots, greater transit use, and greater tax revenue sound? Well, according to this article in The Atlantic Cities, the only thing standing between us and that urban utopia is our parking rates. They’re just too darn low.

Eric Jaffe examines the effects of SFpark, “San Francisco’s world-class effort to match the price of parking with real-time demand.” Through SFpark, the price of street parking changes dynamically to keep 20-40 percent of parking spots clear until 6 p.m. (when the meters are no longer in effect). The program has reduced congestion by making it mostly unnecessary to circle a city block 1,000 times looking for a non-existent parking spot.

In general, large cities with higher parking rates see more public transit use. In fact, if you want residents to ditch the car, expensive parking is a far greater inducement than investing in a high quality transit system alone.

You May Never Get a Parking Ticket Again, Thanks to this Baltimore-Developed App

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Baltimore City publishes its parking citation list online. For most people, the citation roster is just a reminder of how frustrating it is to find one of those ominous neon-green envelopes nestled under your windshield wiper, but for local programmers Shea Frederick and James Schaffer, it was an opportunity.

Goodbye to the Last Old-School Parking Meter

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This week, Manhattan’s last old-style parking meter — you know, the pole-mounted kind that demanded regular meals of quarters — was decommissioned; while plenty still remain in Baltimore, it’s clear that their days are numbered.

Baltimore’s slowly been replacing its single-space pole meters with EZ Park devices, which take credit cards and are wifi capable. But they can also be tricky for motorcyclists (where to put the slip of paper so its seen by meter police, but not stolen by other would-be parkers?) and deceptive for drivers (they’ll accept payment for times when parking isn’t allowed). But since they eliminate the need for clearly delineated parking spots, they also make more parking spots available.

And while there are some aesthetic reasons to be nostalgic for the old school version (the satisfying clunk of a quarter in the slot! their elegant shape!), it’s worth pointing out that many other cities have made the switch to computerized meters at the same time as they’ve outsourced parking enforcement to private companies — often with disastrous results.
In Chicago, protesters fed meters enough pennies to fill its coin reservoirs, rendering the machines inoperable. (And, because it’s Chicago, there’s also a parking-related corruption investigation going down at the attorney general’s office.) Boston and Portland have each faced their own parking meter scandals. Plus, it’s generally a bad deal for the city — a big chunk of money upfront, but a loss of revenue for the coming years (three-quarters of a century, in Chicago’s case!)

So let’s hope Baltimore doesn’t privatize anytime soon. And if you’ve got a smart phone and a tendency to amass parking tickets, you might by interested in a new app that’ll tell you the odds that you’ll get ticketed in a particular spot at a particular time (based on analysis of publicly available city data). Has anyone else noticed that you rarely get a ticket when it’s raining?

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