The days of needing an entire roll of quarters to park on busy streets in downtown Los Angeles may soon be over. The old meters lining some of the busiest sections of downtown are about to be replaced with 10,000 new meters that accept debit and credit cards. In some cases, the old meters required a driver to pay $8.00 in quarters to park for two hours. The city’s new Express Park pilot program includes a super, high-tech network of wireless pavement sensors capable of tracking parked vehicles in real time. A central control center will be able to determine how much time is left in the meter, if the meter is malfunctioning (no more bags over the meters), and the frequency at which cars park in a particular spot. It will also be used to help direct motorists to empty parking spots on city streets and in city-owned garages. The city also plans to implement something called “dynamic pricing," or pricing that fluctuates depending on demand - motorists will pay more to park in peak times and less when the demand isn’t as high. The parking rates will range between $1 to $4 per hour. The new program will be in effect near the Civic Center, the central business district, Chinatown and Little Tokyo. If it goes well, will it be implemented in other cities?
Amir Sedadi, Assistant General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Office of Parking Management and Regulation
Michael Manville, Ph.D., research fellow at UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies