Parking Meters: The Flawed, the Automated, and the Downright Explosive

July 9, 2012


On automated parking meters

Parking meters randomly changing time can leave parkers ill-at-ease, with strict ticketing laws on unpaid machines (via Victor Kerlow, The New York Times City Room Blog)

July 9, 2012 — Thanks to some crossed wires, mysterious time changes regularly occur at automated parking meters across New York City. Newer parking meters are generally equipped with an internet connection, allowing for parkers to use credit cards as opposed to traditional coinage, and tracking time via WiFi connection. However, this system can sometimes mean parking meters changing from 2:09 to 12:29 at any given moment. Seeing as parking meters rely on correct logging of time for accurate charges, this can be a great inconvenience for New York City parkers (though it may be argued that this is simply a better excuse to use the subway, or  bicycles).

Danger! Explosives Sign from Signs like this may have to be placed on parking meters following the explosion of a parking station in Seattle, WA, last weekend

Parking meters that can’t tell time seem like welcome inconveniences after a Seattle parking meter exploded this week, injuring one man. Police on site stated that the explosion was an “act of vandalism gone awry,” with an explosive device hastily attached to a parking meter. The explosion occurred around 12:30 AM on Sunday, causing extensive property damage to the meter. The scene was processed by the bomb and arson team of the Seattle police following the treatment of the injured man, whose wounds were not life-threatening. New Pay-by-Phone parking technology keeps motorists from fearing tickets, letting parkers add time via mobile device (via

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is making strides in the technological advancement of parking meters, with the development of pay-by-phone parking. This technology uses a smartphone application that features a countdown and reminder gauge. For users with older phones, a numerical code will do the payment trick, albeit at the expense of a bit more time and hassle. Free for the parking authority, this and other easily-applied technologies may become recurrent throughout the United States.

With the development of this new technology, parking meters may become more of a friend than foe – if they don’t explode, that is.

– S. Walsh

Category: News, No Parking, Regulations