Al Roth starts a list of comparative advantages of the new electronic parking meters relative to old school coin-fed.

In Brookline, where I live, one can already begin to catalog some of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the old and new technologies, aside from those mentioned above, regarding credit cards in particular.

Waiting time and queues: old meters took your quarters immediately (if they were working well enough to take them at all); new meters take some time even if you are first in line, and since they serve multiple spots, you may have to wait while they take that time for the people ahead of you.

Parking at 7:45am: old meters made you start paying even if you rolled up to the curb before payment was required; new meters know that you don’t have to pay until e.g. 8am, and so can sell you parking until 8:30 without charging you for the first 15 minutes until 8.

Adding time to the meter: old meters let you add another quarter to add time, e.g. if you glanced in at the coffee shop after you had already put money in the meter and noticed that there were no vacant tables, so you would have to go across the street, and wouldn’t be back by 8:30.  New meters print a receipt for you to put on your dashboard, and don’t let you add time to the end of the time interval you have already bought.

To which I would add:  No Free Riding.  There is no more hope of rolling into a space with time still left on the meter from the last guy.

And a spinoff list of disadvantages of both systems.  Pre-payment.  The meter forces me to bear the risk associated with my own uncertain parking duration.  I pay in advance and hope I don’t pay too much or too little.  If I pay ex post I am insured against that risk and I am willing to pay a higher per-minute rate.  (What is the effect on my incentive to park for longer?  With ex-post payment I bear a constant cost per minute I stay.  With pre-payment that incremental cost is zero up until the meter expires and from there increases with the probability that the meter maid turns up.)

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