Higher-tech parking meters could be coming to downtown Springfield

Springfield’s parking meters might be getting a technological upgrade.

Springfield aldermen on Tuesday were presented with the city’s pick for smart parking meters downtown after putting out requests for proposals last year. IPS Group would replace 800 of the city’s 1,500 meters downtown with wireless, solar-powered meters that have sensors monitoring whether a space is occupied. The sensors allow for drivers to check a phone application to find an empty space and for parking enforcers to easily find cars in unpaid spots. The meters also take cash, credit card or payment online through an app.

Sam Wilkerson, the city’s operations coordinator for motor vehicle parking, said many of the meters are aging. In a good year, meters bring in about $300,000 to $500,000 into the city coffers. IPS Group said that among its 290 customers, the system has seen an average of 30 percent increase in parking profits.

“We are a whole new generation of people,” Wilkerson said. ”… In 25 years, you are not going to even hear of the word ‘cash,’ in my opinion.”

Rates mostly likely will have to go up on the new meters to help pay for implementation and operation costs, Wilkerson said. The city has had a parking rate of 50 cents per hour since before Wilkerson started working for the city in 1992, he said. The company would take a $1.50 cut of each parking ticket, which currently cost $10.

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