A new on-street parking meter system approved by the City Council on Friday may have fewer Minneapolis drivers scrambling for spare change.
While the city is still in the process of negotiating contracts with vendors, implementation of a new meter system will begin as early as September. New solar-powered multi- and single-space units will accept multiple forms of payment, including credit cards, coins and smart cards.
The city’s current parking meters were purchased nearly 20 years ago, and antiquated technology and high rates of malfunctioning meters have meant costly disadvantages for both the city and residents.
“The meter system is getting old. It’s passed its useful life, basically,” said Minneapolis traffic engineer Tim Drew.
Full implementation of the 6,800 new units will be completed by 2012 after a three-year, $6.6 million process. The system will provide Minneapolis residents with three different types of units, including updated traditional and enhanced single-space meters as well as multi-space units.
In an effort to prevent cluttered sidewalks, a single multi-space meter would be installed on each block in downtown Minneapolis and enhanced single-space units would replace meters in the Stadium Village and Dinkytown areas.
The meters would also utilize the city’s WiFi network so drivers can make payments with credit cards as well as provide flexibility for people to pay meters through text messages in the future.
“For the city itself, it’s exciting to think that we can be able to have better control over our parking rates and have better ways to adjust the parking rates,” Ward 8 City Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden said.
The city still needs to negotiate contracts with the three vendors that will provide the meters. The city tested meters from six different companies before deciding on three.