City tests new downtown parking meters

STAMFORD — If you’ve been frustrated with the city’s parking meters in recent years, you’re not alone. The city realizes that the current meters are old, outdated, and costly to maintain.

That’s why 72 new parking meters have been installed downtown along Bedford Street, from Walton Place to Broad Street. Mayor David Martin and transportation bureau chief James Travers announced that the new meters — M5 models from IPS Group — will be tested for about 90 days to evaluate resident and visitor interest.

If the meters are widely accepted, the city will look to replace all 800 meters throughout Stamford. According to Travers, they would each cost the city $450.

Alexander Miles, an IPS field technician, said the meters on Bedford Street were all installed on Wednesday and took about 10 minutes each — and that’s accounting for adjusting the polls on some of them.

“The [current] meters are old, they’re breaking frequently, and they’re not very customer friendly,” Martin said. “I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t carry quarters anymore. They’re in such bad shape, we need to replace them, anyway.”

Customers can use credit cards to pay for parking on the new meters, but quarters and the Park Mobile app are still accepted.

Martin said that compliance will go up if these new meters are installed full-time, meaning that violations will go down, which is the ultimate goal.

The meters will still shut down in the evening and on Sundays when people don’t need to pay, and a one-hour limit is still enforced when paying. The normal hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays are programmed into the meters, and they won’t accept payment in the off-hours.

Travers said that these types of meters are already used in nearby communities such as Norwalk and New Haven.

“We had aging parking meters that didn’t provide a level of customer service, but more importantly they were failing at an increasing rate,” Travers said. “When a meter is put out of commission it puts a parking spot out of commission and people get frustrated.”

Travers said new parking pay stations are also being tested in the downtown parking garage that are “pay by plate” rather than “pay by space.” Travers said that people would forget their space number by the time they got to a pay station. With these, they enter their license plate number to start their parking period. If these are welcomed, they will be installed in the city’s parking garages.

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