Chicago somewhat controversially privatized its parking meters.  Now you have to walk over to a machine, put in money or a credit card, get the receipt and put in on your dashboard – the meters are defunct.  It’s $1.25/hour so it’s still way cheaper than parking in a private lot. And now the machines work, unlike many that were installed earlier.

And here’s the cool thing: Suppose you’ve paid for two hours, only use up an hour and drive off and park somewhere else.  As long as parking costs the same in new spot where your car ends up and the parking rate is the same, your receipt is still valid and you do not have to pay for more parking.  There is less chance of wasting quarters like you do now when you leave the meter with time on it.

The fact that the receipt gives you option value means you might put in extra.  The company makes more money potentially because of this.  Also, with a meter, the next person to park might get lucky and get some time paid for by someone else.  This is a classic positive externality – each individual parker does not take into account and skimps on how much they out into the meter.  This cannot happen anymore because your receipt stays in your car (or goes into the trash) and not to someone else. So, they have to pay for their time themselves.  Another round of extra money for the parking company.

But, all in all, it not as bad as people thought originally.  And I love my durable receipt.