Sacramento to Approve High Tech Parking Meters

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The Sacramento City Council will be reviewing bids by parking meter companies in several weeks that will transform the way street parking will operate in the city.

The old-style parking meters will be refitted to accept credit and debit cards. Plus, they will be solar-powered and have wireless capability.  The multi-parking space kiosks will remain, but they’ve gotten mixed reviews since they were installed about 7 years ago.

Sam Giles likes their credit card capability, but doesn’t like to take the extra step of attaching the parking receipt on his car.

“You have to lock your car and walk to get the sticker, come back, unlock the car put the sticker on the window,” said Giles.

City parking officials say the single space-meters will be more intuitive to use and more convenient.  The old meters run on 12 volt batteries that must be replaced every six months — a maintenance nightmare. The solar-powered meters and their re-chargeable batteries last up to five years.

“We’re going to have a reduction in labor and costs just in that, ” said Howard Chan, the city parking services manager.

The new meters can also signal when they are malfunctioning; the old meters sometimes didn’t get repaired until there was a contested parking citation.

The new meters also have the capability of linking to a smart phone app which can tell a driver when the meter is about to expire, and allows them to feed the meter remotely without having to go back to their car.  Down the road, the meters may also play a role in identifying where there are open parking spots.

Chan says depending on what companies bid for the contract, re-fitting 6,000 on street meters may cost from 3 to 4 million dollars. Other cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland already use the new meters so the  technology is proven.

The plan is to have a vendor contract in place and begin installing the new meters before the year is out.

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