Search this site:


Previous: New AT&T logo | Main | Next: Bad gadgets

November 22, 2005 12:03 PM

Broken: Parking garage ticket dispenser

Ticket_dispenserTicket_dispenser_close_up Atif Chaudhry writes:

Here in Ithaca, NY they just opened a brand new parking garage to encourage people to visit and shop in the downtown area.

I don't know what is more broken about this ticket dispenser; the graphic on the green square button showing a hand pushing a round button, the fact that people can't figure out to push the square button to get their ticket, or the half baked solution which was to write directions on masking tape attached to the dispenser.


Maybe there's a round green button on the back of the machine that you have to get out of your car to press... very broken!

Posted by: Nathan at November 22, 2005 10:05 AM

Some questions: why is there a 'no car' symbol on a parking ticket dispenser? And why would I push that if I was trying to park my car? And, what is that red square button to the right? Looks ominous.

I'd say the instructions on masking tape are about the only thing NOT broken about this interface. At least someone was trying...

Posted by: McWatters at November 22, 2005 10:28 AM

I second the request for figuring out what the red "no car" button is for?

It would probably be more clear if the green button was right above the "Take ticket here" slot and simply labeled with the ticket graphic. Move the "no car" and unlabeled red button somewhere else-unless those buttons are expected to be pressed as much as the green button.

Posted by: Eddie at November 22, 2005 11:14 AM

Am I the only person who doesn't see a green button? The button being referred to is blue. Why does everyone call it green? It's fairly unambiguously blue in the pictures. Maybe the digital camera's colors are off or something, but it really looks blue.

Posted by: Matt at November 22, 2005 11:47 AM

Is it jut me, or is the 'green' button actually blue?

Ok, ok, the photo probably just needs color correction.

I would offer that the 'no car' symbol probably illuminates when the lot is full (as if a car driver wouldn't be able to read).

Posted by: Josh Z. at November 22, 2005 11:48 AM

OKAY... this machine is not broken, BUT , requires a little thinking before you buy a ticket, is it a trick? Do you have to pay for the ticket? Are you a hobo who's going shopping but has a cardboard box not a car, and they plan to intall a yellow button so you can press blue and yellow at the same time and the.... green!

Posted by: Miker at November 22, 2005 12:31 PM

interesting ... downtown ithaca is broken ... one of those bad circa 1960 urban development mistakes where they closed off the streets thinking that would lead to more foot traffic ... it led to, doh! less ... same thing happened in chicago on state st ... how about more better mass transit instead ... one person one car can't create density; it's just math

Posted by: lk at November 22, 2005 01:58 PM

The color in this picture is broken, you can tell by the way the type is lit, the color is off, Im curious as to who's job it is to put on fresh tape every time it rains out and you loose the one piece of intelegible instruction on the machine.

Posted by: Smartypants at November 22, 2005 02:07 PM

what is at&t's website?

Posted by: someone at November 22, 2005 04:23 PM

sorry, wrong one

Posted by: someone at November 22, 2005 04:24 PM

I think the main problem here is overcommunication. Ideally this gadget shouldn't have any buttons -- just dispense a ticket automatically when it senses a waiting vehicle. Failing that, it should have one big unlabeled button (which must look like a pressable button) next to the ticket dispenser; most people will understand they need to press it to get a ticket. I see a lot of machines following those two designs where I live (Portland Oregon) and people don't seem to have problems using them.

Posted by: Alex B at November 22, 2005 06:44 PM

hey im in portland too.

Posted by: gmangw at November 22, 2005 08:47 PM

Two things

the Green button seems fine to me. the graphic 'says' push this for a ticket. what do you want?


the downtown ithaca ik says is "bad 1960's"

is at the oldest mid 70's. It suffers from the same problem downtows everywhere suffer from.

Posted by: ron at November 23, 2005 05:04 AM

the invisible green button?

but if it's invisible, how is it green...


Posted by: Bob at November 23, 2005 02:13 PM

The REAL problem is that you have to push a button. All the better parking structures I have ever visited detect your car and pop out a ticket as you pull up. I can't imagine pulling into a structure at LAX and having a line of drivers each taking their turn staring blankly at this panel.

ron: there always has to be one "not broken" comment, eh? The problem is that you slow down the flow of cars. There's a time to use iconic representations, and there's a time to put a big, happy "PRESS BUTTON FOR TICKET" sign if they absolutley MUST have a button at all. The fact that they tried to fix the situation with the taped message proves there is a problem.

Posted by: Citizen Of Trantor at November 23, 2005 02:51 PM

Im thinking the picture mustv'e been taken with a cell phone camera.. the colors seem to be way off...

Posted by: Infinity at November 23, 2005 09:39 PM

Even though the colors are way off, I think it is too high resolution for a camera phone, unless it is a brand new expensive one. But I don't know much about camera phones.

Posted by: im_an_alien at November 24, 2005 10:29 PM

I hate those pictodiagram things. Spell things out in English so we don't have to try and figure these stupid things out.

What would be wrong with having "PUSH FOR TICKET" on the button instead of that mystery artwork?

Posted by: Toby at November 26, 2005 12:53 PM

Wow didn't think this would generate so many comments.

Two quick points

1) The pictures were taken with my Treo650 smartphone. Sorry the colors are off. I think the garage lights were the cause.

2) I don't know what the other buttons do, but I'll be sure to ask next time I park there.

Posted by: Atif at November 27, 2005 05:40 PM

The pictures are for the people our teachers forgot to teach to read. If we quit drawing these pictures and color coding everything society would actually have to think for a change. Oh the horror!

Posted by: Poindexter T Quakenfuss at November 28, 2005 06:57 PM

Was back at the garage and on the way out asked the attendant (who takes the tickets and any money if you owe for parking).

He said "I have no idea what those other two buttons are for"

I asked if he had ever seen them lit up or pressed, etc...and he said "never"

Maybe next time I'll just push them and see if they ARE buttons, or just lights...

Posted by: Atif at November 29, 2005 08:16 PM

So, the "green" button is blue, but then what the heck is the RED button for?

Posted by: Anonymous at November 29, 2005 11:01 PM

Uhh.. Even if the colors are way off, blue is a primary color. If you were missing say, all yellow in a picture, that button may be green, however, as that button is clearly blue, since there is a good amount of yellow around it.

Also, maybe the person was color blind. I think there's a blindness that gives inability to tell blue from greeen, but correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by: Bob at November 30, 2005 06:02 AM

First, the red button:

The ticket dispenser will not dispense a ticket unless it detects a car sitting in front of it. It uses a coil to detect the metal in the car. Small motorcycles often do not have enough metal mass to be detected by the sensor. The quick fix for vehicles that the coil does not detect is to have the red override button.

Yes, you can argue all you want about ways to fix it, but the cheapest way is to slap a button on the front. The broken part of the red button is that someone could walk by the entrance 10 minutes before leaving, dispense a ticket and not pay for the true amount of time they parked there.

The “green” button… seems like a good reason would be that the person who wrote it is colorblind and can’t differentiate between green and blue. So, I thought… did a quick search and blue colorblindness is rare. It’s broken either way, but I was curious if there was a good reason. The picture is a bit overexposed, but that doesn’t change green to blue. This is truly broken.

Hey Citizen Of Trantor... I pay monthly for my parking and use an electronic card to enter and exit the parking garage. I don't use the tickets, so having the machine spit out a ticket and open the gate would not very useful to me or the garage. In this case, the “press button for ticket” option is completely justified.

The icon is pretty freakin’ obvious… push button, receive ticket. No need for different languages. Also, now that I’ve read your comment, it’s probably people such as yourself who are used to pulling up and having the ticket pop out automatically who are the reason that a note needed to be written to instruct people to push the button!

Posted by: kinda at December 2, 2005 10:29 PM

Hey Atif, I'll betcha that second red button on the right is to call the attendent.

Posted by: kinda at December 2, 2005 10:34 PM

Hmm. So the "Green" button is to get a ticket if and only if you're in a car. The "Red" button is to get a ticket whether you're in a car or not.

Here's an idea - remove the green button altogther. Paint the red button green, if necessary. Now you only have one button which, if its obvious enough, needs no confusing picture on it.

Posted by: Richard at January 17, 2006 05:17 PM

Ok are you ready for this? The Sky Harbor Airport here in Phoenix, I think has the most easiest method. It has coils in the ground, when you run on top of them, a green light on the button starts flashing. Not only that, but there is an LCD Screen stating, "To begin, Push button" and after that, there is a big sign telling you to push the button for ticket. Now, keep in mind there is only one button, no thinking required, unless you don't have any common sense.

Posted by: Josh at June 5, 2006 10:39 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous: New AT&T logo | Main | Next: Bad gadgets

Previous Posts: