The Parking Authority of River City (PARC) is testing out new, high-tech parking meters in a pilot program in Downtown Louisville. Common in many cities including St. Louis, New Orleans, and New York, these meters offer increased flexibility and efficiency for everyone involved. Gerald Howel at PARC said the machines accept coins and smart parking cards like any standard meter in the city, but also allow motorists to pay with paper cash and credit or debit cards.
Three solar- and battery-powered terminals were recently installed on the north side of Muhammad Ali Boulevard between Third and Fourth streets, a site chosen for its high activity and nightlife. Howel said the meters will likely be turned on next week, allowing users to interact with an interface comparable to an ATM. Using a digital screen, drivers will select their parking spot number and confirm the charges. A similar pilot program was conducted at the end of 2003 in a different location. Upgraded handheld equipment used by parking attendants will allow them to wirelessly check for violations from a central point, increasing efficiency. Howel said PARC is also exploring a new pay-by-phone option.
PARC will study the results and could selectively replace meters on some blocks with these electronic examples in the future, but at $7,000 to $11,000 a pop, Howel said it doesn’t make financial sense to replace meters across the entire city.