Hey, it Could Have Been Worse

I got a kick out of the article in yesterday’s O about a spat between the parking folks at PDOT and the vendor who manages all those paystations downtown. Apparently some (percentage TBD) of the machines accepted money on Monday, which was a holiday with no parking enforcement.

While I quite agree that the City and vendor need to do better, it seems like a bit of a tempest in a teapot. After all, not so long ago those now-old-fashioned meter heads would take your quarter any hour, day or week of the year, regardless of whether it was within the hours of enforcement! How quickly we become reliant on our technology…

[Disclosure: I was a participant in the process for selecting the paystations, as they were under consideration for use in my neighborhood in NW Portland.]

In fact, I was at a 7:45 meeting this morning downtown where several of the participants remarked happily that when they fed the paystations at 7:40, the expiration time for the coins they put in was calculated from the 8am start of enforcement, NOT from the time they plugged the machine.

I think the biggest bonus is that the machines take debit cards! No more hunting for quarters.

I wouldn’t go back. Would anyone else?

6 responses to “Hey, it Could Have Been Worse”

  1. I wouldn’t go back. Would anyone else?

    I’m torn. In many ways, the pay stations add convenience and confidence, as well as labor savings.

    However, having only one per block face adds a level of inconvenience which may be too significant to ignore.

    As I have pointed out in previous comments on this subject, a person who used to be able to get out of their car, lock the door, put a coin in the meter and walk away may now have to walk an additional 100ft (50ft to a mid-block meter from an end-block space and back again) and have to re-open their car door (which may or may not be blocked) and affix a receipt to the window. The problem increases in rainy periods or in the dark.

    Furthermore, as pay stations age, malfunctions become more likely. A person facing a dead pay station would then have to walk around the corner, out of view of their car (which may be unlocked) in order to obtain a parking receipt.

    Still further, there are sign code violations the city has not addressed, wherein a space which is unmarked as a carpool space (according to existing sign code) has only a brief LCD notice on the pay station that the space is a carpool space, which someone is supposed to notice and obey, even though such notice is not printed on the receipt.

    Most of these problems are easily solvable, although they involve money and the will to implement them.

    For starters:

    1. Implement 2 pay stations per block face.
    2. Restore stall signage to match code requirements. (A sign at each stall OR an arrow on the signs at each end of the block to properly indicate a restriction applies to all spaces and not just a few spaces.)
    3. Display LCD code restrictions before coins are inserted.
    4. Print code restrictions on the receipt.

    – Bob R.

  2. Quite honestly the final straw for me downtown
    was the pay stations. Walk to the station, get
    a sticker, walk back to the car, etc and when one is broken a pain.
    Now I shop at the mall bookstores.

  3. Overall, I think the new pay stations are fine. Sure, there are some drawbacks as others have pointed out. (Besides those, we also lost hundreds of places to lock up a bike in the conversion process…) But the benefits of not having to carry a bunch of change around far outweigh any downside, in my mind. Besides, the meters were old, prone to malfunction and needed replacing. Why go backwards, technologically speaking?

  4. I’m a fan of the new pay stations. Bill makes some nice suggestions on how to improve them. Not having to have change is nice. Plus, the City is collecting a lot more revenue w/ the new machines, which should translate into a better transportation system.

  5. Good grief – quit whining. Is it that inconvenient to walk the 50 feet to the meter and come back to your car with the sticker? I know, a whole 2 minutes of your valuable time. On the few occasions when I park downtown, I like not having to carry quarters around. Or getting to the one spot where the meter is stuck/frozen/broken and I can’t feed it. If you’re whining about having to schlep to a meter, you don’t have enough going on in your life.

    my $0.02.

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