Transport Theory

Calgary makes parking payments hassle-free

Posting in Cities

No more coin-op parking meters! Calgary's smart street parking system allows users to pay for parking by cash, card, or cell phone.

Tired of fishing for quarters for the parking meter? The city of Calgary, in Canada, has developed a clever system that other cities would do well to emulate. Its ParkPlus system allows users to pay for parking by cash, card, or even cell phone.

Solar-powered ParkPlus machines are located on each block. Users find an available parking spot, and enter the zone code identifying their parking space and their license plate number into the machine. They select the amount of time they plan to stay, and can pay by cash or credit card. To see how the system works, you can watch the information video at the ParkPlus website.

Frequent users can set up a ParkPlus account and use only their cell phones to pay for their parking space. GPS-equipped cars replace police officers and patrol the streets, monitoring the parking status of the cars.

If their parking session is almost up, users get an automated phone call telling them so. And if they leave before their session is over, they can call and end their session, so they will only be charged for the time they were parked.

Who knew parking could be this simple? Smart systems like Calgary's are a great example of how to simplify an otherwise irritating bit of city living, and hopefully other cities will catch on and implement similar schemes.

Has your city implemented a smart transportation system that makes life easier for its residents? Let me know!

Photo: Ed Hemmes, Jeff Kramer

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Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure