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Bad News For Meter-Maids


The parking meter has been almost unchanged since I started driving in 1959: one meter per space; put your money in the slot.
In my driving in Northern Europe I never see parking meters; I buy a piece of paper at a parking automat (typically one per block) and put it on my dashboard. Why the difference? I assume that available technologies are the same on both sides of the Atlantic, so it must be that the lower wage in the U.S. of the low-skilled meter collectors leads us to choose individual meters — to choose a labor-intensive technology.
Lo and behold, as of last month, I see no more meters in downtown Austin. Instead, we have spiffy European-style kiosks, which take credit cards or cash and dispense parking slips for your dashboard.
Why the change? I think it’s because the price of the kiosks has fallen steadily while even low-skilled wages continue to rise — to the point where the European-style technology is now cost-effective.