Parking Smartly

IEEE Spectrum has a nice round up of new information technologies to make parking easier. We have a local example at PDX where there are now signs and lights to help you find that elusive empty space…

And also on the local front, the City of Portland has issued a press release on how those pay stations (Smart Meters) are going to get smarter:

City Upgrades SmartMeter Parking Meters

(PORTLAND, OR) – The City of Portland Office of Transportation is implementing an upgrade to its 1,300 solar-powered SmartMeter parking meters that will result in cost savings to the City and added benefits to parking customers. The upgrade involves two changes – improving the bankcard authorization process and providing a function for a true maximum, end-of-day purchase.

The first feature in this upgrade is faster bankcard processing time, eliminating confusion on credit card statements as to date of purchase. In addition, the meters will no longer retain your bankcard while you push buttons to purchase time and print a receipt. You will take your card back before you push any buttons and the machine authorizes your purchase. The City hopes this change will make customers more comfortable and confident that the machine hasn’t “eaten” their bankcard.

The City advises customers to watch the digital display screen for instructions on when to take your card back and when to begin payment (pushing buttons to purchase time). A bright-colored sticker on the front of the SmartMeter machine will alert customers to the upgrade and provide simple instructions about the new process:

oInsert card and follow directions on the screen
oTake your card back when the screen directs you
oPush buttons to purchase time and print receipt
oWait for your purchase to be processed

The second feature in this upgrade is a function for a true maximum, end-of-day purchase. With this change, whether a customer purchases parking in 25-cent increments or purchases maximum time, the meter will calculate the maximum parking time available to purchase at the end of the day.

For example, if you park at a 3-hour machine downtown at 5:00 p.m., the maximum end-of-day purchase is 2 hours or $2.50 because the regulatory period ends at 7:00 p.m. downtown. With the upgrade, the meter will calculate this for you. If you press the blue button for maximum time, it will credit you 2 hours and charge you $2.50. If you press the blue button for 25-cent increments, the display will eventually flash a message “Maximum Exceeded.” You will have the option to cancel the transaction, re-calculate your purchase, and start over – or, spend that last quarter to complete your transaction.

The changes must be done one machine at a time, so the citywide upgrade will take several months. A bright-colored sticker on the machine that reads “Bankcard Processing Change!” means that the meter has been upgraded. The City appreciates the public’s patience as it works to complete the upgrade within five months.

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