News of a new coin-free parking meter system at Kansas University might get Lawrence city officials started thinking about the possibility of upgrading downtown meters to make them more convenient for motorists.
The new system at KU allows people to use their cell phones to pay for parking. The system eliminates the need to have change on hand to pay the meter, but it does force the motorists to go through some steps to create an account by registering their license plate number and credit card number with the company that collects the parking fees. Once that’s done, a smartphone application called Parkmobile allows motorists to pay for parking by scanning a code or entering the meter’s sticker number.
The registration process sounds like a bit of a hassle, especially for the digitally challenged, but for repeat customers, like people who frequently park at meters near the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center, the smartphone payment could be a real convenience over the long term. It also would be interesting to compare the administrative and staff costs of monitoring and collecting fines from standard meters and the new electronic versions.
KU’s system might not be right for downtown Lawrence meters, but it may be time for city officials to look at some payment options that don’t require cash. In some cities, for instance, people can use a credit card to purchase parking minutes at kiosks, which dispense tickets to be placed on the vehicle’s dashboard.
As the cost of parking rises, it becomes less convenient for people to always have enough change on hand to pay for the number of hours they need. Parking in downtown Lawrence is not yet as expensive as parking on the KU campus, but it may be time to explore some new payment options that will make it easier to pay meters and avoid annoying parking fines.