Rant: Parking pains

Just when you thought finding a parking spot couldn’t get any worse…

The world’s population is growing, endlessly so, and with it cities are growing too. As Sydney expands the suburbs that surround it, such as the Inner West, are quickly urbanised. Unfortunately, with this urbanisation comes more cars and with more cars, less parking.

Anyone who drives has most likely had the infuriating experience of being unable find a park (always when you’re already late), or made a mad dash to the store and back while your car sits illegally, terrified of the fine you might find pinned underneath the wiper. And then there are the parking meters, one of the great evils of modern society.

When I got wind of the new upgrade tax for parking meters that international credit card companies Visa and MasterCard are trying to force upon us, I was a little miffed to say the least. This upgrade, which will purportedly cost over $450,000 in Leichhardt alone and around $30 million nation-wide, is meant to be footed by locals and commuters. But why would you or I pay for the upgrades of a multi-million dollar company?

The reason for this upgrade is supposedly to meet new security requirements. Sure, security is great and all but it’s not exactly like parking meters have to be Fort Knox.

I would have thought the biggest security risk to parking meters would be people trying to break them open and steal the change that falls out, something which doesn’t really affect credit card companies all that much.

So the specifics of this is that the new global standard for credit cards (EMV) that is currently being introduced by these companies must be universal. Therefore, all parking meters that accept credit cards need to be EMV compliant. I won’t even pretend to understand what this new credit card standard entails or what’s different about it, but spending this kind of money for parking meters seems ludicrous.

And hold onto your hats, folks, there is one more awful cherry on top of this sordid sundae: neither Visa nor MasterCard would guarantee that there wouldn’t be further costly upgrades in store for us within the next 12 months! Seriously? They can’t even promise us that this technology won’t be obsolete within the year!

Luckily for us, there is one ray of hope. Leichhardt Council have publicly stated that they are going to fight this initiative and I have to hope they will. Now if only they could just make all parking free…

Words: Max Kobras.

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