The University of Colorado at Boulder is testing a new park ‘n pay system.

CU’s Parking and Transportation Services rolled out the new machines about a month ago, replacing coin-operated parking meters with three solar-powered, intuitive, no-cranking-necessary parking facilitation units for the new millennium.

It uses the solar-powered kiosks like we have in Cherry Creek with this twist:

Paying by phone requires creating a free account at the Verrus Mobile Technologies Web site, Users enter a cell phone number, e-mail address and credit card number. Once this information is submitted, the user receives an online confirmation that says, in part, “Your account has been set up and you can now pay for your parking by phone.”

Paying by kiosk is so outmoded. And inconvenient. You have to park, go to the kiosk, pay, get a receipt, go back to your car and put the receipt on your dashboard, and only then can you go about your business. The best system hands-down in the one used in Downtown Denver and nearby. You get a parking key at the Wellington Webb building. You tell them how much money to put on it. You put it on the keychain with your car keys. Instead of putting quarters in the meter, you put your key in and turn it for however 15 minute segments you want, up to 2 hours. When your money runs out, you go back to the Webb building and have them refill your key. There’s no opening and reopening your car, there’s no search for the kiosk on the block, there’s no waiting at a kiosk if someone is in front of you. Why can’t we have key-enabled parking meters everywhere….and more places besides the Wellington Webb building to refill them? Maybe they can figure out a way to allow us to refill our parking keys at the kiosks. Standing at a kiosk to pay by cell phone is no better than standing at one to insert a credit card and wait for authorization before getting a receipt. It’s lost time, an inconvenience and a nuisance. Cherry Creek has the worst system of all. I vote for the parking key.