The Evolution of the Parking Meter

Article by: Alexandra Wells, Sales Associate at Passport

From the first parking meter, brought to you by Carl Magee, to being able to pay for parking with your smartphone – you can definitely say the parking industry has come a long way. For over 80 years, the industry has proven that parking has and is making major waves, particularly now in the world of mobile payment technology. From paying for parking with coins to paying via smartphone – it’s evident that parking has drastically changed, particularly in the world of mobile payment technology

The full evolution of the parking meter has brought us to where we are today – mobile pay for parking (at least until the next best technology). The parking meter isn’t necessarily the most exciting thing to talk about, but it’s really transformed the way we move, for the better. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you:

Coin Meters

In 1935, the first parking meter, Park-o-Meter, made its debut. Thanks to Magee, the meter greatly influenced the world of parking. Magee uncovered a major problem – a sufficient lack of parking for America’s urban dwellers. City populations increased and in turn, the amount of automobiles on the road increased. Magee realized something needed to be done to help with the large amount of people and vehicles creating congestion in urban areas. Thanks to Magee, that’s where the idea of the physical parking meter came in. The meter relied solely on coins for payment and completely set the tone for the parking industry and the innovations to come.

Parking Lot Fee / Honor Boxes

You know the drill, fold your dollar bills and individually stuff them into meter boxes. Not necessarily the most efficient process, but it got the job done. Honor boxes were extremely popular in the 1950s and for many transportation agencies, they relied entirely on the system for revenue. The revolved around the idea that even when nobody’s watching, you put your parking fare in the designated money slot. Although this system isn’t fully obsolete, it’s getting more and more rare as new technologies make their way into the parking scene.

Multispace Credit Card Meters

Credit card meters provided the efficiency for parkers to pay for their parking session by swiping their credit/debit card. Multispace meters incorporate more customer-friendly features, such as on-screen instructions and acceptance of credit cards for payment. No longer do drivers have to have pockets full of coins to pay for their parking session. These parking meters use the existing pole and use solar power, which helps power and send maintenance technicians a wireless signal when in they are in need of repair. According to the Department of Transportation, this new parking meter will provide “better return on taxpayer’s investment, a variety of options, reduced maintenance, a variety of easy payment options, and increased reliability”.

Mobile Payment / Pay-by-Phone

With the progression of mobile payment technology, the parking industry has drastically changed the way we not only move, but park. Having the ability to pay for parking via smartphone is giving parkers the convenience they want. Being able to completely handle your parking experience through your device, such as paying, extending, and managing parking history really takes the experience to a new level. With mobile payment or pay-by-phone technology, parker’s do not need to have coins or a card readily available to pay for their parking session. With just a few taps in Passport’s mobile parking app, parkers have the functionality to handle their entire parking ecosystem from a single app.

It’s just the beginning for all that’s to come for the transportation industry. Although the industry has continued to change, for now mobile payment technology is here to stay….