Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Sep 17, 2010

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Migration Watch: Plastic for Parking

Nothing can ruin your day like watching a meter maid place a ticket under your windshield wiper as you run towards your car with a fistful of change. Luckily, cities across the U.S. have realized the inconvenience of using coins to pay at parking meters and are starting to transition to payment card-accepting meters.

A new card-accepting meter in San Francisco's Hayes Valley neighborhood.

A new payment card-accepting meter in San Francisco's Hayes Valley neighborhood.

Just this week, the city of Madison, Wisconsin, unveiled new, card accepting meters for those who don’t have cash or coins and need to park downtown. According to Mary Carbine, Executive Director for Downtown Madison, Inc., “Now it’s going to be so much more convenient for the customer. You don’t have to carry a lot of change or worry if you have enough change. You can use a credit or debit card, which is how a lot of people pay for things these days.”

San Francisco is another city taking part in the “parking revolution.” This summer, the hip neighborhood of Hayes Valley was the first area in San Francisco to receive 190 new meters as part of a city-wide scheme to improve traffic flow and reduce driver frustration. The trial will eventually encompass 5,100 meters in the city.

One local Hayes Valley merchant noted that since the new parking meters have been installed, “There’s just not the stress there was before. People are a little bit calmer.”

She continued that before the new meters, “People used to come in here all the time asking for quarters and worried about getting a ticket.”

As parking in major metropolitan areas gets more expensive, cash is no longer a viable option. You would need to feed a total of 28 quarters, 70 dimes or 140 nickels into a meter in downtown San Francisco for a two-hour stay during peak-time. So before you go to the trouble of pulling your 140 nickels together to pay for parking downtown, check to see if you can simply swipe and go.

Posted by: Liz Nunan, Visa Corporate Relations on September 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm