Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Parking Meters: Pay-&-Display Implementation

By: Tom Davis Category: Parking

Grid powered pay and display parking meter under trees. Not sufficient "sky view" or time to charge battery  for number of customers.Our last Mayor, Bill White, and his transportation czar decided a way to increase revenue and improve the service to the public was to exchange the old style parking meters and also new, electronic meters we installed in the Cotswold program in downtown to pay-and-display meters. There are advantages to the new meters but not as many was we were told. The pay-and-display meters came with the new technology of wifi connections so they can take credit card payments. In addition they are inexpensive to install with the solar powered battery recharging system plus other claims that were to offset the high cost per unit.

The savings of not needing permanent power is a great advantage–as long as you are not the 40th customer since the sun was last seen as the battery will likely be dead. The meter will not function and you will worry if you will get a parking ticket. But, in defense of the system, you can walk to the next meter and buy a ticket there.

Don’t misunderstand me as I like a lot about the new meters. I just recall all the hype, the promises and the high cost. There is an article posted here that addresses issues raised by owners and advocates of historical buildings with the appearance of the high-tech meter and its solar-panel “crown”. In addition, I offer things to think about and be aware of related to the meters.

  • To damped concerns about the initial cost we were told that parking space designation is not used thereby allowing as many cars as possible to park in a block face. Therefore, more cars will park and more revenue will be had. Many of us that know the streets and human nature said that was not likely to play out and we were right. A driver will keep a good distance from the next parked car and only a golf cart could get in between them.Solar powered pay-and-display parking meter.
  • In high use areas the battery life will not maintain the operation of the meter all day. Trees and the shadow of buildings make that problem even worse. See the Appearance article here for more discussion of this issue.
  • Be sure they are mounted to a heavy piece of concrete so they are not hauled away for the cash.
  • The cost evaluation was done with one meter per block and more cars parking per block face. What was decided by the parking department was to install two per block to address a concern that customers will not walk very far. The two meters do require less walking and are more visible but the cost is twice what was anticipated.
  • There will be a transition where drivers have to learn to take the ticket out of the little window and return it to the dash. The instructions are provided but the trip back to the car is still necessary and that is a new step in the process of parking and getting to the meeting where you are already late. Some sort of education program isĀ  warranted to make sure the transition is positive–or at least quiet–and your area does not become victim of the media on a slow news day.
  • A feature that many like is that the ticket you must display is also your receipt so you have something to submit with your expense report.

If a value could be placed on convenience then the meter that takes credit cards and gives receipts would be due a sizable credit as drivers like those features.

Watch here for more articles about the implementation of the meters. One will be about the intercept survey the Downtown District commissioned during the City’s test of different manufacturer’s meters. The insight gained from asking new users about their impression of the meters was helpful.



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