Here's a blast from downtown Raleigh's past: let's make people pay to park on the street.
Fayetteville Street (this photo was taken in 1962) had parking meters from 1939 to 1972. The suburban shopping centers scared them away.
Now the Raleigh City Council is considering a proposal to bring 'em back.
Raleigh's Downtown Parking Task Force says parking meters would stimulate more turnover in curbside parking spots during the day. That would make more parking available for shoppers and other downtown visitors.
A lot of downtown workers hog this precious (but free) real estate through the day. If we make on-street parking more expensive than the parking decks, we'll force long-term parkers to move to the decks.
That's the idea, anyway.
Not everything about this idea is old-fashioned. Instead of a coin meter for each parking space, the proposal would put two or three "pay-by-space" stations on each block. You could pay with cash or plastic, or even with a text message from your cell phone.
How well would these pay stations work? Maybe not so well.
Check out the user-unfriendly pay-by-space stations now installed on the 200 block of West Hargett Street -- opposite City Hall:
* You lock your car, memorize the number on your parking space, and trot to the nearest pay station. (One of the three stations was out of commission Monday, so you had to trot half a block to the next one.)
* How much does it cost to park? The sign does not say.
* You punch in your parking spot number and then the video screen lights up, asking whether you prefer English or Spanish. Only then are you quoted a price: 50 cents for an hour, a 1 hour limit. Coins or Visa or Master Card only, no currency accepted and no change provided.
* Then you trot back to your car, unlock it and put your receipt on the dashboard so you won't get a parking ticket.
This idea may need a little work.
More in Tuesday's Road Worrier.