Visitors to the Californian beach town of Santa Monica be warned: the days of finding a parking meter with extra time on it are numbered.
Just in time for the influx of
summer tourists, from this month onwards the city is replacing
6,000 of its regular parking meters with new smart meters and ground
sensors. The new meters will automatically reset when your car leaves the
parking space – even if there is still time on the metre -- so whoever arrives
next will still have to pay the full price. It also won't accept additional payment
once you’ve reached the posted time limit.
According to the Santa
Monica Transportation website, the new meters will increase on-street
parking availability by making sure people leave when they’re supposed to, reduce
parking-related traffic congestion and facilitate payment. Drivers can still use
credit cards or coins to pay the meters, but also have the new option of paying
by smart phone. Those who pay by phone
can receive text message alerts when their meter is about to expire and can add
more time, up to the posted maximum limit.
Visitors looking for longer-term
parking than the usual two hours can check out the city's many parking
structures whose real-time availability can be seen online.
Ultimately, the sensors will help Santa Monica develop the same sort of
real-time map for metered parking, which could then be accessed online and
through mobile applications.
Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite
for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.