One of the many wonderful things that can happen when prowling for parking is finding a spot that still has money left in the parking meter. Not having to pay for that little extra time gives everyone a reason to cheer, except the government of course.
The city of Boise, Idaho is introducing new parking meters, which will prevent drivers from using somebody else’s paid-for-but-unused parking time in metered spots.
Smart meters will wipe off extra free time
The 200 new parking meters have a built-in vehicle detection sensor, which will sense when a car comes in or moves out of the space. The meters will wipe out the time on the meter as soon as a car pulls out, and therefore keep people from taking advantage of the extra time.
The new system will also prevent people from adding time to the meters or abusing the free 20-minutes on-street parking in the downtown area. “We’re still allowing the free 20 minutes. But you’re not going to be able to keep going out there and pushing the button and keep getting the free 20 minutes,” says Craig Croner, Boise’s administrative services manager.
The change will increase the turnover of prime on-street parking spaces and encourage drivers to use parking garages and surface parking lots. The first batch of new meters will be installed around the State Capitol, City Hall, and other popular downtown spots. The city aims to replace 811 meters over the next four years.
Plans to increase parking fees
Apart from the new meters, the city also plans to expand on-street parking hours in Boise’s downtown core and charge a parking fee of $1.50 for the first hour (instead of $1) and $3 for the second hour, with a limit of two hours.
Parking hours beginning at 8 a.m. will now continue until 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, with free parking on Saturdays. Moreover, the proposed fee would bring the cost of two hours of metered parking in line with the cost of parking in a garage.
Reactions to the change
While city officials say the change isn’t about increasing revenue and that it will make paying for parking easier, most residents are cynical about the change–they believe that it’s unfair, will ruin the charm of downtown and that the city seems greedy.
Karen Sander of the Downtown Boise Association says that proposed pilot program does not address parking concerns for business owners keen to secure low-cost parking for their employees. Instead, the proposal has provoked the public into thinking that patronizing downtown businesses will become expensive now.
Boise City Council has currently put its plans of increasing parking fees and enforcement hours on hold.