Smart Parking Meters Bring in Big Bucks

New meters earn LA almost quarter of a million dollars in one month

One Year of Firsts - Parking Meters
Lu Ann Cahn

Now may be the time to stop stealing quarters from the piggy bank to pay for parking. Swanky new Los Angeles parking meters allow motorists to use credit and debit cards, and are bringing in heaps of cash for the city.

Ten thousand new Coin & Card parking meters brought in almost a quarter of a million dollars in September alone, far exceeding expectations. Previously, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that the city's Department of Transportation estimated that the meters would generate $1 to 1.5 million each year.

Other officials are eager to expand the program, updating some of the other 30,000 meters around the city.

Locals and officials alike are hoping that the Coin & Card meters will help ease some of the headaches caused by the largely ineffectual parking system and more-often-than-not broken meters.

"A modern city needs modern technology," said Council member Tom LaBonge, according to LAist."These smart meters will allow people to park with greater ease and pay with a swipe of the card."

The "smart" meters are solar powered and work 99 percent of the time, according to associate director for transportation, Lisa Hansen. The one percent of failed meters sends a wireless signal to technicians for repair.

This is a move toward what UCLA urban planning professor Donald Shoup calls "performance parking." This means that prices for a meter are in flux with supply and demand for parking on a street. Performance parking turns street spots into profitable assets. Shoup told KPCC that a parking space performs well when it is often open and frequently used.

"The spaces are almost totally full but 15 percent vacant — which means about one vacant space on every block. So that everybody when they go anyplace will typically be able to find a space right on the block where they want to park."

According to KPCC, the revenue generated from the Coin & will go into LA's general fund.

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