This is about to appear as the future-fantasy context for a parking article running in three publications in the US, UK and Canada.
It’s May already. 2010. My hybrid sits waiting in the lot below my apartment for the drive to my job downtown. I still prefer taking my car some days in spite of the new congestion charges. It's easier when I'm in heels and there is far more parking available now anyway. Ever since the City decided to end the clogged mess of free-parking by charging fair market rates on virtually every street, I have been able to pull up to the curb, pop out, and do my business – all without circling for a spot. And without paying a meter, I might add. You see, back in 2008 I was among the first to install one of those new GPS-type parking meters in my car to save myself the trouble and wasted time of feeding the pay-and-display machine. At the end of each month, I get a bill that is itemized to make expense reporting easier, saving me even more time, not to mention that I always used to lose the receipts! My employer likes it because there is no chance I can pad my parking expenses. My boyfriend got an anonymous meter that he pre-pays, and he can even get a numbered debit account off the web – it doesn’t have his name on it, but his employer believes him, so that’s OK. But for me, I’m just happy to be rid of the whole parking nuisance. Better yet, back in 2009, the city instituted a very cool ‘pay-to-stay’ program: if I do not move my vehicle between 7:30 and 9:30 AM, I get a $3 parking credit which I can use anywhere, anytime in the city. I get another $2 credit if I do not move it between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. So I take transit two or three times per week and try to leave real early on the other days. By the time I add up the credits, I hardly pay any parking at all. And after my employer pays her portion of my expenses, I am sometimes even a little ahead. I wish my boyfriend was that smart … but the really funny thing is, I never thought I could have free-parking by having paid-parking everywhere.