New digital meters make parking easier in downtown Montgomery

montgomery2If you’ve spent any time recently in Montgomery’s entertainment district, you might have noticed new parking meters that now allow you to pay with a credit or debit card.

City officials say 65 meters out of 1600 have been replaced. The new digital meters are on Commerce Street from Bibb Street to Tallapoosa Street and Tallapoosa Street from Commerce Street to Coosa Street. City leaders say this area was chosen because it has the most turn over of parking.

Joe Borg works downtown and uses the parking meters often, but like most people he doesn’t always have change.

“It’s certainly good to use the credit card, especially if you’re down here and you forgot to bring your quarters, which has happened to me on a number of occasions. So it’s a lot more convenient. Also, just another innovation for Montgomery,” Borg said.

City officials say convenience is one of the top reasons they decided to replace the meter, but there are other reasons for the new digital meters as well.

“It reduces the amount of tickets that we will write, and it is going to eliminate re-feeding of meters, which is one of the biggest problems we have in downtown parking,” said Steve Jones, who serves as the director of general services for the city.

To help prevent re-feeding, the meters have sensors on them to detect when a vehicle leaves, wiping out the remaining time. If the same vehicle is parked and more change is it put in the meter, the time automatically clears out.

“They are not designed for people who work downtown to just park there all day and go re-feed the meters. Everybody can enjoy downtown the way it should be,” Jones said.

To use a card you must pay a minimum of $1, which will give you two hours — the maximum amount of allowed time. The city incurs the transaction fee.

This a trial period for the meters. The first 90 days are free for the city. It’s believed more digital meters will be added at some point down the road.

“We’ll do this as the need arises. There’s no doubt about the fact that we’re going to get more,” Jones said.

Leaders believe the increased revenue will help fund the meters.

We’re told parking meters downtown generate $500,000 each year.

There are no parking fees on the weekends or from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

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