Despite having one of the highest expired meter fines in the country, it turns out the Municipal Transportation Agency is not, in fact, out to stick drivers with costly tickets. Or rather, the agency is at least generous enough to give local drivers the tools they need to avoid the tickets in the first place. As the Chronicle reports, the SFMTA is rolling out text message alerts and pay-by-phone options for parking meters starting with a test program in the Castro.

When the program kicks in, drivers who slip their Mini Coopers in to the metered spots along Castro Street between 19th and Market, or on 18th Street between Diamond and Hartford will be able to get text messages when their time is about to run out and can feed the meter over the air by phone. There's a 45-cent fee for the pay-by-phone service, but that seems like a fair price to pay for the convenience of not having to jingle around the Castro with a pocket full of meter change.

Two city-owned lots in the Castro will also get new services, and assuming it all works as planned the new features will be added to the SFPark program as it expands around the city.