Downtown's new meters may
take a little getting used to, but they have changed parkers' attitudes.
text by Tarek Atia
(Monday, March 10,
sure to have some real cash on you if you plan on parking your car
downtown. It's no longer a question of being lucky to find a space, then
forking out 50 piasters or a pound for the minadi. Many of downtown's
major thoroughfare's are now equipped with parking meters. But these
meters don't take coins.
In fact, the minadi is still
there -- but he has miraculously become an employee of the company in
charge of the meters. His main job is explaining to you how the meter
system works. It's not an easy task. Basically, you have to buy a
magnetic smart card for LE11. It's worth five hours parking time at peak
hours (LE1 per hour) plus a refundable LE5 for the card itself which you
can get back once your hours are up. Alternately, you could recharge the
card with another 5 hours parking time. Plus, there's a 10 per cent tax,
and that makes 11 pounds.
It's an interesting system to say
the least. The minute you park your car the meter starts running. When
you get back, you put your card in the device to see how much of the
account you've used.
A small bar in the street rises
and drops to let you in and out of the space. Again, at this point, the
minadi turned employee becomes very helpful -- mainly because he has to maneuver
you out of the space within a minute's time before the bar comes back
down and you begin being charged for another hour. There are no
fractions of hours, it seems.
The scheme, which is in
partnership with Cairo governorate, is currently in its first phase, and
includes Kasr El-Nil and Talaat Harb streets downtown. Meters were installed
then removed from Ramsis Street over the past few months, so it remains
unclear where the project is eventually heading.
In any case it's certainly useful
(and gives downtown even more of the modern
metropolis feel previously noted in a Cairo Live dispatch about ad
billboards). Although forking out LE11 for parking on a trip
downtown might feel like a lot -- remember, next time, you may not have
to pay anything if you've still got credit on the card. And the fact
that's it's yet another card to carry in the wallet -- well, that's
certainly a downer, but what can you do? Modernity does not come cheap.
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