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June 11, 2010

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Home » Metro » Public Services

City's parking meters: ahead of their time?

THE ticking of time has not been kind to Shanghai's electronic parking meters, which are no more popular now than they were when first installed on a few streets five years ago.

Yet local transport authorities say they will continue to push their use.

Drivers have shown little interest in the meters and would rather bargain with parking assistants in hopes of a discount.

"Most drivers still rely on humans charging the fee," said Li Zhengwu, head of the local parking industry association.

In May 2005, the city installed 27 electronic meters to handle parking fees for 99 parking spots on four downtown streets. The number has risen slightly to 34 meters for 130 spots. Drivers pay the fee with the local public transit card.

The devices were supposed to reduce the workload for parking staff. But they've actually had the opposite effect.

The first hour of street-side parking costs 15 yuan (US$2.20).

It's 10 yuan for each additional 30 minutes. In other downtown areas such as shopping malls and hotels, the cost is about 10 yuan for each hour.

A driver who parks for one hour and one minute has to pay another 10 yuan for that "one minute" on the meter. Some drivers bargain with employees. Some refuse to pay, and flee.

Many drivers, instead of paying the fee with the public transit cards, give cash directly to parking assistants who then pay the meters with their own cards.

Nevertheless, some experts are optimistic about the meters' future.

Li Keping, a professor in the traffic and transport school of Tongji University, said the labor cost in the city is still low compared with the equipment cost and its maintenance.

"As the labor cost rises, the advantage of the meters will be shown," said Li.


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