Editorial: In some towns, parking just got easier. Why not here?
It’s an idea so cool – so modest in complexity but so enormous in its potential to take some hassle out of daily life – that we’re kicking ourselves for not thinking of it first.
A company in Israel has created a gizmo that uses technology similar to that of the E-ZPass transponders that allow motorists to breeze through the Hooksett tollbooths without stopping. EasyPark is aimed, instead, at those same motorists when they arrive in town and need a place to park. Much like E-ZPass, EasyPark removes the need for a pocket full of quarters. In cities where it’s in use, there’s no need to feed a parking meter or risk a ticket if you don’t make it back to your car in time.
How does it work? Drivers buy an EasyPark gadget (formally called an in-vehicle parking meter) and load it with money. When they park in a participating community, they look for a parking spot with the EasyPark logo nearby. They turn on their EasyPark, check their pre-paid balance, and tell the device which zone or city they’re parked in. Then they display the gadget on their dashboard or driver’s side window, visible to parking attendants and – voila – done. The machine will slowly deduct the appropriate amount of money from their account and send it to the city. The device is set for the maximum time allowed for a particular spot, and counts off the time used until it is either turned off by its owner or registers a violation.
For drivers, the appeal is clear. No need to fumble around for change. No need to trek over to a parking kiosk, wait for a receipt and return to your car. Cities may lose a little money – fewer parking tickets, fewer drivers paying for time they don’t end up needing – but they may also gain happier shoppers and tourists in the bargain.
A bonus: Much like E-ZPass, EasyPark can be used in any participating city. So far, EasyPark is most popular in Israel, where three dozen municipalities allow its use. In New Hampshire, you can use EasyPark in Dover, Portsmouth and, soon, Manchester.
As reported this week in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Portsmouth and Dover officials are enthusiastic about EasyPark. As Concord officials prepare to revamp downtown, they should give some strong consideration to joining the consortium. Construction on Main Street, once it begins, will be a big inconvenience for shoppers. Giving them such a concrete improvement at the end of it would surely help.