Toyota Prius at parking meter, shot by Flickr user Rasputina2.Enlarge Photo
The good old coin-operated parking meter is a bit of an enigma in the modern automotive world. When virtually everything can now be paid for by cards or even mobile phones, having to fumble around in the ashtray for a few quarters seems a little last-century.
Not so for Hungarian motorists, who will soon be able to use a GPS-based parking meter service that should banish the need for emergency loose change once and for all.
The system is quite simple. A driver finds a space in their city (Budapest initially, followed by 26 other towns across the country) and parks up. They then press a button on a GPS device that lets the service know they've parked. This information is sent through a secure channel and the driver is then charged depending on where they've parked, and how long they park for.
The system stops as soon as the driver restarts the car and drives away, and the fee is then charged to the user's account.
The GPS device costs around $235, and users pay a $3.33 monthly rate and a measly 50c each time they park. This is cheaper than SMS-based parking services already in use in the country and ludicrously cheap compared to most meters we're used to. There's no worry over a parking attendant ticketing the car either, as they'll be able to access a system letting them know the space has been paid for.
We think it's a great idea and preferable to scrabbling around for change every time you park - and certainly better than running back after a late lunch to feed the meter...