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Baltimore: Smart Parking System Not So Smart
Man has his car towed after he relied on a smart parking meter system not to accept money when it was not lawful to park.

Parking meterBaltimore, Maryland's "Easy Park" parking meters, billed as high-tech alternatives to traditional coin-fed meters, have misled motorist into getting parking tickets. The devices are designed to take payment by credit card and to zero-out remaining time on a meter when a car leaves, increasing revenue to the city by allowing it to collect hourly fees more than once on the same parking spot. Resident Kyle Pickett thought this also meant that the machines were smart. He found otherwise after parking on Baltimore near Eutaw street at 3:20pm. Despite paying for two hours of parking, his vehicle was towed away by 5pm.

"If it was a no-parking after 4 p.m. in the area, why on earth would the machine give me time beyond the no-parking time?" Pickett told the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

A small sign on the machine and a confusing sign made mention that the zone was "no parking" at 4pm. Parking officials made $256 off of Pickett's assumption that the device would not accept payment for times when parking is not permitted. Only after inquiries from the Sun did the Baltimore Parking Authority agree to look at reprogramming the 375 electronic meters in the city so that they will not accept payment for times when it is not lawful to park.

Source: Easy Park units difficult in some on-street parking (Baltimore Sun (MD), 8/29/2007)

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