Automation, long the trend in parking, is expected to eliminate almost all of the city of Madison's 34 parking cashiers in the next six years. But those cashiers are fighting back, arguing that they do far more than take people's money.
In a letter to the city's Parking and Transit Committee, the employees' union AFSCME writes, "Cashiers assist both their customers and the general public in the downtown area. They supply directions, answer questions about events and businesses and aid customers."
Bill Knobeloch, the city's parking operations manager, agrees that cashiers provide a valuable service and says he'd have them on each parking level of every ramp if possible. "People are good, but they're expensive," he says. "How much do we want to pay for the service?"
The city is getting more competition from the private sector, he says. "If we're the last ones to go [automated], we won't be able to compete."