Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Parking Meter Auction

Supply and Demand. But mostly demand.
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Suppose this: You drive downtown, needing to see someone of particular importance. You glance at your watch and turn down the street to the building you are heading for. Alas, however, there is no available parking space on the street, and no parkade nearby. You see a sign, however, beside a specially-coloured area of curb:

ePark Auctioned Parking
Text 1243 to #PARK (#7275) for current rate

You note that '1243' appears to be a unique identifier for this particular space. You text it to the short code and a response arrives saying:

CURRENT RATE: $4.76/HR
REPLY WITH BID IN CENTS

You reply to the message with "480". A moment later, someone in the building receives a message saying:

CURRENT RATE: $4.76/HR
NEW BID: $4.80/HR
REPLY WITH COUNTER BID OR 'STOP' WITHIN 5 MINUTES

He decides that his business is completed, so he replies with 'STOP' as he departs to his car. As he walks inside, you receive a final message:

CONFIRM SPACE RELEASED
REPLY WITH YES/NO

As the previous occupant had left promptly, you reply with "YES".

Had the man not left after stopping the meter, a tow truck would have been immediately summoned to the building.

Alx_xlA, Jan 02 2011

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       ...and the man, tracked via the GPS in his phone, engaged in a desperate struggle for his life against trained assassins.
rcarty, Jan 02 2011
  

       Even without the bidding, a method of driving past a desired parking block and reserving the next space available would work wonders for inner city traffic flow. Reserve should be held for a maximum of ~five minutes, perhaps.
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 02 2011
  
      
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