FREAK Shots: A Cheap Parking Spot

Reader Tina Gao sent in this photo of a parking spot in Rockport, Mass., and asked, “[W]hy would anyone ever pay more than a penny for the spot?” Can anyone offer an explanation for this pricing? If nothing else, Rockport gives us something to do with all those pennies we’d rather throw away. On the other hand, parking this cheap is probably not very good for the environment.


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  1. Stan says:

    Prevents people from using these spaces for long term parking. I’d bet the expired meter fine is very expensive.

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  2. Jordan Brown says:

    Why would anybody pay more?

    Because they don’t have a penny, but do have a nickel or dime?

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  3. Ian Kemmish says:

    Maybe they got lots of complaints from nearby shops about people running in to change nickels and dimes into cents? Unless your time really isn’t worth very much at all, it’s now cheaper just to insert whatever the smallest coin in your pocket is. It would be interesting to learn what the average is.

    Of course, being a Brit and a cyclist, I have no idea what the market rate for other parking spaces in Massachusetts actually is…..

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  4. Eileen Wyatt says:

    It looks to me as if the tiny, tourism-driven, sea-coast village of Rockport:

    (a) Wants the 30-minute limit on street parking, in order to prevent its on-street parking from being taken by local employees and by visitors parking for the entire day. I’d guess those parkers are to be routed to a lot or garage that charges more. Half an hour’s parking provides a convenience for people just running to grab a cup of coffee or duck into one store — people who might otherwise skip the errand entirely at a higher parking price.

    (b) Does not consider revenues from these meters important, possibly thanks to a higher-priced lot elsewhere.

    (c) Has old meters and does not want to replace them, nor to take on the staffing for tire-marking patrols that are needed if one doesn’t have meters. So any coin the meter will take gets you 30 minutes.

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  5. thom says:

    i think it’s clear that the municipality did not install these meters to generate revenue but merely to aid in enforcement of a 30 minute parking zone. allowing for nickels and dimes was merely a way to make the parking zone more accommodating for potential parkers that may not always have a penny on them.

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  6. Richard Elsen says:

    Prohibitive parking restrictions affect local trade in a seaside town, as do facilities that allow motorists to park all day, thereby blocking the parking opportunities for shoppers who will typically want a relatively short time to transact their business. Also, no-change machines are cheaper to buy and maintain, because they are less complicated and only need to be emptied. Additionally, these machines are unattractive to thieves and vandals as the risk/return ratio of ripping them off makes the crime not worth doing.

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  7. James Curran says:

    well, I have to assume the elsewhere in the area the meters read something like

    Two Hour Limit

    10 min for each penny
    1 hr for each nickel
    2 hrs for each dime.

    And they wanted to kep the same format.

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  8. Lowell Smith says:

    Who collects and counts the pennies, rolls them, and deposits them in the bank…..probably a highly paid public employee.

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