Edmonton installed its first coin-operated parking meter 68 years ago. On July 26, 1948, Edmontonians had to learn to adapt to the new way of paying for parking. Back then, each of Edmonton’s 845 meters only charged a penny for 12 minutes and a nickel for an hour, and fines only cost one smackeroo.
In April of 2016, the last of the coin meters were replaced by the EPark electronic parking system. More than 370 EPark machines have replaced the city’s 3,300 coin meters, so Edmontonians now need to learn how to adapt – again.
Whereas the old parking meters were set to your stall and your stall only, there are now rows of machines set to specific zones that include multiple spaces. Luckily, there are really only three key steps to using these machines.
This can be a bit tricky as some machines are located in separate zones. Luckily, it asks you to confirm which one you are in before proceeding to the following steps.
Tip: A good rule of thumb for those that are bad with numbers is to take a picture of your zone’s sign using your phone. That way you’ll be prepared to punch it in if you’re at a machine outside of your zone.
Wait – why don’t you know your plate number already? This is important information, Edmonton. If it’s something you don’t know, the camera-phone trick works here too.
It can still be like the old days. Honestly. Just pour your pocket change into the machine as you once would. If you don’t carry cash, however, you can always swipe your credit card. The best thing about it? It won’t charge you the extra dough if you try to pay past paid parking hours.
According to James Donahue, Project Manager at City Operations, many app-savvy Edmontonians have been confused by the app that has a pre-load minimum of $25 before parking. “The most important thing to note about the Epark app is that it isn’t an app for the casual parker – it’s an app for those who use the EPark system on a regular basis,” says Donahue. The best way to look at it? Think of it as a Starbucks gift card. If you frequently buy coffee (or in this case – park), it’s handy to have on hand, but you need to reload it in order to keep making your purchases.
You use the phone for everything else, so why not use it to pay? Set up an EPark account online and your phone becomes your own personal EPark machine. You can text to start sessions use your web-browser to check-in via the EPark website or call the automated system.
The meters are gone. There’s no limit on how many cars can park (just like a residential street) on a street. So think of your fellow drivers. Just because there are no identified stalls doesn’t mean you should leave a half-car gap. It sort of defeats the purpose of all this change if two cars take up the space of three (and it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your parallel parking).
Tip: Cars smaller than 3.8 metres get a discounted rate because it frees up more space.
This article appears in the August 2016 issue of Avenue Edmonton.