There is something remote and mechanical about putting coins into a machine.
A dollar’s worth of coins might get you a bag of candy from a vending machine. Pumping coins into a metal basket might get you access onto a toll road. And slipping quarters into a parking meter might reserve you a space along a street or in a lot.
All that, of course, depends upon the machine’s ability to work properly.
As drivers to downtown Anderson are finding out, some of those parking meters are not working.
Worse, when drivers – many of whom have come downtown to spend consumer dollars – return to their cars, they find a parking ticket on their windshield and a $10 fine.
This is as unfair as a parking meter can be. It is also as unfair as a city meter operator can be.
As most downtown drivers know, the machines are finicky; not all work. And no driver, particularly one who is late to a lunch meeting or a courthouse appointment, has the time to walk to the police department and file a complaint.
As of right now, the city should forgo any of the fines from the lots and street spaces known to have faulty meters. Better yet, drop the downtown pay spaces until the city and visitors can confidently feel assured that the meters work.
There are rare times – a symphony concert at the Paramount or an open-air festival – when parking is at a premium. But the city should make every effort to encourage people to come downtown. Broken parking meters discourage the consumers we so desperately want.
Parking meters are mechanical machines that can break. The downtown district is not mechanical; it is a composite of individual businesses and organizations that rely on the friendly human element to draw customers.
Let’s reconsider whether the meters are needed. Most drivers don’t see the need for them. And no one sees the need for parking meters that are broken and unreliable.