Dr. Gridlock

Parking meter experiments in D.C. prompt range of reactions


(Ashley Halsey/the Washington Post)
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Travelers across the region seem to have a stake in D.C. street parking. I got many responses to my survey of the street parking systems that the District Department of Transportation is testing. [Commuter page, Aug. 15]

In addition to the traditional coin-operated meters and the newer multi-space kiosks that take credit cards, the District is experimenting with systems that allow people to pay by license plate or numbered space or allow payments by phone.

Keep it simple

This writer prefers the multi-space version already in widespread use over the newer systems that are in test phases.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I drive into the city quite often. My favorite of the new meters are the ones that take coins (including the dollar coin), cash or credit cards and then print out the paper receipt to put on the dashboard. Very simple, very straightforward.

I do not like the meters that require entering the space number; it is sometimes difficult to read the space number on a meter. If the tags on the outside are missing and it is a rainy day, the interior of the meter can fog up completely.

Using the plate number is fine. That is something easy to find and read, and we probably have it memorized. If that helps the District use electronic verification, I am all for that.

I do not like the idea of having to pay exclusively by cellphone or mobile device. It strikes me as just another way to separate the haves and the have-nots. Contrary to popular notions, not everyone has a cellphone and not everyone who has a cellphone has unlimited minutes. How are the people without those devices supposed to be able to pay for parking? What about visitors to the city? Are they closed out completely? Meters that require downloaded applications cater to an even more exclusive group. I believe all meters should accept bills, coins (especially the dollar coin) and credit cards. If the District wants to add the ability to pay by cellphone or mobile device, I support that move -- just not exclusively that.

Susan Barron

Arlington County


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