City Government

Euro-Style Parking Comes To Boise

Boise’s Parking Czar, John Eichman, is experimenting with a parking system that is common throughout Europe and much of the progressive USA–California and Florida are rime examples.

Instead of the old fashioned coin-op meters, the new (to Boise) system spits out expiration times based on how much time you buy–paying with coins, bills, or plastic cards at a central pay station. Place the receipt on your dash and race back to beat the metermaid or butler.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but the upside is only a couple meters per block, fewer devices to change when the rates increase, and a fraction of the collection points. Done right, the system is great. We caution the city to make enough pay stations convenient so motorists are not searching for a place to pay.

The sample at right is in Paris, but most of them are similar in design and function. First test market will be in front of City Hall, according to the Parking Czar.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I bet it also does away with the unexpired time from the person who parked before you. Does it also do away with the 20 minutes free?

    Yep, that’s a great system and one which could be considered a tax increase.

    EDITOR NOTE–Correct on most counts. You can still get 20 free minutes, plus what you pay for if I read the sample photo correctly. Also, the machine doesn’t know which vehicle paid, so nice guys can pass along tickets with unexpired time to anyone they wish. Of course it truly is a FEE and not a TAX.

  2. While in Portland recently, I was looking for parking downtown and someone offered me their sticker with an hour to go. That’s a nice feature. Additionally, if they have enough meters around town, you’re not limited to staying in your one parking spot with your ticket, as long as you have time, you can move.

  3. According to the Statesman, “Parking rates will remain at 25 cents per quarter-hour. The popular “20 free minutes” feature has been maintained, allowing drivers the option to print a 20-minute receipt at no charge or to automatically add 20 minutes to any larger transaction.”

    I like the idea, a bit expensive at first but makes sense in the long run. Portland has this system…the only problem with it there is that you stick the printed tag onto the window that faces the curb and you often end up with ripped sticker all over your window. I’m not sure if Boise’s is something you put on your dash or you stick onto your window.

    When I spent some time in Germany I came across a few towns that had an interesting parking policy. Anybody who wanted to park downtown had to have a little clock in their car (like the ones business owners put on their door when they step out to get lunch) and you had to set it for the time that your first parked. You were only allowed 2 hrs anywhere downtown without special parking tags.

  4. It’s nice to know that, while the economy is tanking and Micron is laying off 2000 more people over the next 3 months, that our city officials are working diligently on that nasty parking meter problem we have here. I know I will sleep better at night now.

  5. I wonder if Handicap Licenses are still free?

  6. Mike Murphy for Mayor
    May 16, 2009, 3:25 pm

    You mean the one in front of City Hall that they screwed up the installation so bad that an empty garbage can covered hole sat there for some time? The one that now wobbles when you look at it? THAT one?

    They are in use throughout the United States actually. Boise is just slow on the uptake.

    Regardless, they are wonderful machines (I’ve used them – where else – in NYC) that I hope the city is capable of successfully deploying.

    I just hope they don’t stock them with the cheaper thermal papers that turn black in the heat of the sun like some other municipalities have, causing trips to Parking Control to explain that you DID pay the machine.

    And though I don’t believe this [ ] is the particular make and model machine, I believe you’ll find it useful to understand the convenience and capabilities they offer.

  7. Hey, something new that uses energy! We need to replace more things with new things that use energy!

    EDITOR NOTE–I think these are solar powered.

  8. Mr. Watcher
    May 16, 2009, 9:38 pm

    I live in Boise but not by choice. The area we live in was forced into the city against the wishes of the people who live in this area. We have sewage, police and a county fire station was only a mile away. Our taxes went up 30 percent and the city provided nothing in return. The city came to the table with zero to offer but higher property taxes, there was no quid pro quo of any kind.
    The last thing folks who live in the area want to do is go downtown and pay parking meters to the same city that is cheating them up one side and down the other. The city can do as they wish with their parking meters all they want to. Its nothing but a waste of money because the coin meters are paid for and work just fine so why spend all the extra money. I have a hunch if a little footwork was done there’s a shady side to these new meters. Like election money coming in the back door. One would think the city would have other things to waste money on that could be helpful to the citizens. Just a thought.

  9. Orange County has a similar pay station at Salt Creek State Beach parking lot near the Ritz Carlton between Laguna Beach and Dana Point. They have a person full time checking the parking stubs on the dash of each car. No grace time is given and the ticket is around $60 if I remember correctly. The fee a few years back was $0.05/minute or $3/hour.

    The old guy writing parking tickets generated a pile of cash for the county.

  10. I use these type sof parking meters all the time here in D.C. They are a very convenient and doesn’t allow for people ot come up with the excuse of the meter was broke or what have you. Also, I have found the best way of not paying for them is to ride my bike. No parking costs and there are places to lock it up all over as in Boise, and what a great way to keep the skies clean. Once I moved from Boise it made me made at myself for not realizing how close everything is there and how it woudl be so easy to ride a biek everywhere, to now I have to plan on an hour to hour and half commute to and from work.
    I do miss my city of trees.

  11. Hey , it’s French. We should call it a Feedom Meter because we are Idahoans and we hate French stuff.
    It must be socialistic since the French do it. Just another government conspiricy to eliminate freedom and force us to like socialisim. I bet the parking spaces will be smaller for import cars too.

  12. They may be solar powerered, but doesn’t exchanging data with bank servers use generated electricty?

  13. Mr. Guardian… let me know when they put one of these contraptions out front of the Owyhee County Courthouse in Murphy, to replace the only parking meter in the whole county. (Then I’ll know they’re really catching on!)

  14. In some cities, an unintended consequence is there’s noplace to chain bikes any more, because the meters are gone. In Oakland, they even kept the old meters, disabled, just for bikes.

  15. No matter what kind they use, they still serve two purposes: To make money for the city (which can charge you to park on streets you bought and paid for in the first place, even though Boise no longer owns the streets), and to keep people from wandering around town, shopping in the stores, eating in the restaurants, attending events, etc. Although you could do those things with the new meters, providing you can estimate accurately exactly how long you will be gone from your car.
    If people can do that, though, I wonder how many thousands of dollars the city is going to lose by not having the hundreds of parking tickets to collect big fees on. Has anybody official estimated that in calculating the cost-benefit ratio?

  16. Oh, and re “California and Florida are rime examples,” (er, “prime,”) I’m kinda surprised The Guardian thinks we should emulate those two fine examples of states.

  17. Our water is owned by France. It makes sense to let them own our parking too. Since we can’t seem to do stuff right like run our own water company, why should we try to do parking right? Would it eliminate that nasty downtown parking ticket lady that drives around in the three wheeled (French?) car writing tickets? I’m for it if it makes her go away.

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