Pay-and-display could be coming downtown

Pay-and-display station in San Francisco

Pay-and-display station in San Francisco

The San Antonio City Council this Thursday will consider whether to approve a plan to replace most downtown parking meters with so-called “pay-and-display” systems.┬á (UPDATE: Council approved the plan┬áduring its 3/4/10 meeting.)┬á These systems, which originated in Europe and have become popular in US cities over the past decade, consist of a payment┬ámachine (“pay station”)┬álocated on each block, such as the one pictured to the right.┬á After parking your vehicle, you locate the nearest pay station, pay for the time you want to park, get a receipt from the machine, then return to your vehicle and place the receipt on your dashboard.┬á The drawback to this system, of course, is that you have to walk to the machine (which typically is located mid-block), pay, then return to your vehicle┬áto put the receipt on the dashboard.┬á The benefits, however,┬áare that the machines accept credit/debit cards and dollar bills, so no more having to scrounge for loose change.┬á Also, motorists can move their vehicle if desired without having to “feed” another meter.┬á The City is the biggest benefactor in the form of reduced maintenance costs and collection overhead for thousands of parking meters;┬áremote maintenance of the machines via wireless connections;┬áand enhanced revenue, likely the result of more people opting to pay since they can use credit cards and bills.┬á Also, unlike with parking meters where┬áany┬áremaining time is inherently donated to the next person who parks in the space,┬áleftover time under pay-and-display systems┬áis essentially forfeited to the City.┬á Studies generally show that parking violations are reduced under pay-and-display systems, so the City would lose some revenue from parking tickets, but can, as a result, reallocate those enforcement resources to other areas.

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