Parking meters rarely allow you to buy as much time as you like.  Instead, they impose a maximum time quantity of 1 hour, 2 hours, or 4 hours.  Why bother?  The standard story is that nearby merchants don’t really want people who come to park.  They want people who come to shop.  Quantity restrictions keep out commuters – and leaves space for folks who want to swing by and spend some money.

As long as you charge parkers with traditional coin-operated meters, there’s no easy way to appease local merchants.  With parking apps, however, there’s clearly a better way to make life more convenient.  Instead of setting strict quantity limits, why not just set non-linear prices?  Such as:

1 hour                      $0.00

2 hours                    $1.00

3 hours                    $3.00

4 hours                    $6.00

Each extra hour    +$3.00

Notice: This still favors people who park briefly, shop, and leave – just as local merchants prefer.  But it creates a safety valve for commuters, people who want to see a movie and shop, people who get held up in a meeting, and so on.  In the immortal words of The Six Million Dollar Man, “We have the technology.”  So why not?