SmartMeters: how smart are they?

Past experience with on-campus parking meters during holidays has taught PSU students to come to school armed with a wealth of knowledge about which holidays keep Portland’s meter-readers home.

That knowledge would have seemed to be made unnecessary with the recent installation of SmartMeters around campus. These green solar-powered multi-spaced parking meters disallow the user to buy a ticket for time beyond 6:00 p.m.; suggesting that said meters would similarly disallow the user to purchase time on an official holiday.

However, a quick survey of three of the city’s new SmartMeters found that they gladly gobbled money and spat out tickets valid only for Memorial Day Monday, an official holiday when parking is free.

While the University no longer has an online listing of “official holidays,” nor is a listing of those holidays any longer posted on University-owned meters, the city parking authority does list the days when meters are free.

Free city parking is available on “Sundays, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day,” according to the City of Portland’s Office of Transportation website, located at

This listing is also omitted on SmartMeters. Instead of the meter spitting out the user’s change, as it does after six, and displaying “no fee required” on its digital readout, it processes the ticket like any other day.

Students should be careful not to assume that the city’s rules apply to university-owned meters, as the end of the metered day is 7 p.m. and meters do operate on Sundays.