Why on earth are we still using coin operated parking meters when our highest value coin in actual use can only buy you seven and a half minutes of parking?
Matt Yglesias‘ renewal of his rant against cheap parking in congested cities reminded me of my trip into DC Saturday night to have dinner with friends and take in a Wizards game.
Because it’s crowded, DC requires for you to pay for parking on most of its streets even on evenings and weekends — through 10 pm! That’s annoying but understandable. Ditto the $2 an hour cost.
What’s not understandable, however, is the expectation that people will carry around half a metric ton of coins with them. (Coins, for those of you under 35, are those little round things that they sometimes give you when you make very small purchases with cash and which you promptly throw into a drawer.) So, parking for an hour requires depositing eight quarters (those little round things with George Washington’s face on the front) into the meter. Since most of the meters have a 2-hour limit until after 6:30, that’s sixteen quarters! Then, of course, you have to come back after 6:30 with yet more quarters.
Most Western Europeans did away with coin-operated decades ago — when people still actually carried coins around with them. Why on earth are we still using them when our highest value coin in actual use can only buy you seven and a half minutes of parking?
In fairness, DC is finally experimenting with modern technology that will let people charge parking to a credit card, either directly or through a cell phone. But the overwhelming number of meters are still coin-fed.
Is this sheer incompetence, the usual explanation for anything DC? Or is it an intentional ploy to drive up revenue by artificially boosting the number of parking tickets?