City may have to scrap costly high-tech parking meters

 

It’s been three years since the city started testing high-tech parking meters.

The smart parking meters are solar powered, and can accept coins, credit and debit cards. They also collect data on how much the meters are being used.

Hundreds have been installed, but problems have prompted the city to take a closer look at them.

“We installed 340 smart meters in the Chinatown district, financial district, and civic center and since we installed them we have had some challenges,” said Department of Transportation Services Director, Mike Formby.

The city started installing the smart meters in 2012 as part of a pilot project. The project costs $350,000. After a year into the project, problems started to arise.

“Well I moved because the other meter did not take my credit card at all, it wouldn’t turn on and it wouldn’t let me press any of the buttons,” said Richelle Kim who had just parked in front of one of the smart meters.

The city says they have had problems with the solar panels on the meters, batteries draining too quickly and in some cases people would put in coins and the machine would not show credit.

“They didn’t do everything they were represented to do,” said Formby. “So it is whether or not you are getting the value for your money. There are several features that we had not engaged or that we engaged once and then we turned it off and it should not be that way if you pay for the full complement of features you should get them and we did not.”

The city has been working with the manufacturer on a weekly basis to try to address the issues.

So what will the city do now?

Two options are to go with a different smart meter or go with a multi-stall meter, like the meters we see at the zoo, but the main goal is to go with something that works and does not cause problems.

“I want to make sure that before my staff moves forward no matter what that new technology is, that it is in the best interest of the taxpayers,” said Formby

The city says similar issues have come up in other states that are using the same smart meters.

 

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