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3 Ways Parking Meters Are Changing in the 21st Century

Parking meters are undergoing the most radical changes since their introduction in 1935.


Scrounging for change may be a thing of the past as parking meters, introduced in 1935, are updated for the 21st century. Here’s what to expect.

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You’ll launch an app. Many cities have added technology that relies on smartphone apps—typically free to download and linked to a credit or debit card. Use the app either to pay for a block of time or to start a session that you end in the app when you leave. By year-end, drivers will be able to use smartphones to pay for parking at all 85,000 of New York City’s metered parking spaces.

You may avoid a ticket. Use the app to add minutes instead of racing back to beat the meter reader. If you’re able to start and end sessions as you come and go, you won’t pay for time you don’t use. But you’ll typically pay a transaction fee of about 25 cents to 40 cents.

You could pay more to park. Smart meters may charge a premium in prime locations or during peak hours, or less if you park farther from the main drag or during off hours. Some San Francisco meter prices range from 50 cents an hour to $6.25 an hour, depending on demand.

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