Editorial: Parking progress

It may be time to start thinking about a coin-free parking meter system for downtown Lawrence.

July 26, 2013


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.


cowboy 4 years, 11 months ago

Why bother , the cost of policing parking violators does not even justify the action. In most years the cost exceeds the revenue not to mention the costs of administering these in municipal court. a superstitious dance that the city performs .

Free parking on any public owned property. Honestly what sense does it make to be charged for using something you already own ?

agitatedbacon 4 years, 11 months ago

According to the 2013 city budget the assertion that the costs of the parking department exceed the resources available (receipts plus previous balances) is false and has been false for the last four years (and probably more, that's the only data in the 2013 budget).

In addition, the parking department is responsible for part of the landscaping and planters on Massachusetts street and therefore has two staff members related to that, so they do more than just enforce the meters. If I'm reading the budget correctly, the Parking Department also pays for three police officers who do a lot more than just enforce parking violations, too.

John Sickels 4 years, 11 months ago

What if you don't have a smart phone? I don't have one. What if you don't have a credit card? Not everyone does.

Dbones 4 years, 10 months ago

I bet you have a debit card. Works the same way.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

It's way past time to do away with parking meters everywhere in the nation. These meters are why most downtown areas struggle, and small stores quit doing business. Most shoppers migrate to other business districts with no parking meters. Though downtown Lawrence is still making it, many downtown areas in the nation are not. I am disabled, I do not have to pay at parking meters. That doesn't keep me from hating them, remembering all the years I had to pay to park. On behalf of all the citizens who still have to pay to park, do away with these meters and watch the retail in the metered areas explode with more business.

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 11 months ago

In San Francisco, for example, many meters are paid for only by cell phone and credit card. They operate 18 to 24 hours a day, and change prices constantly during the day and night. This is no solution at all for Downtown Parking in Lawrence, unless the businesses all want their profits diminished to nothing. It is very difficult to keep track of cellphone numbers, credit cards, and the different amounts of payment throughout the day and night. Tourists and residents get fed up. San Francisco not built adequate parking garages in any part of the city, either.

This is NOT for Lawrence - and it shouldn't be for San Francisco, either.

If it comes to payment by credit card and cellphone, much of the population won't be able to afford it. In that case, SHOP ELSEWHERE!

People will learn their lesson downtown - but for many, it will be too late for their businesses

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

What happens to those who do not have a cell phone??

Thinking_Out_Loud 4 years, 11 months ago

This is just a guess, but I would guess, Moderate, that those without cell phones (or credit cards) must take care of expired meters the old fashioned way....

George Lippencott 4 years, 10 months ago

So the meters will except coins as well as texts??

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