BROCKTON – Drivers looking for on-street parking in downtown Brockton will no longer have to come with a fistful of quarters.
The Parking Authority installed 100 new “smart meters” in the downtown area in late April, allowing drivers to use credit and debit cards, along with coins, to pay for on-street parking.
The cost of metered parking downtown is 25 cents for every 15 minutes. Payments made with cards come with an additional 25-cent convenience fee to cover the cost of processing the transaction.
The new meters come after the Brockton Downtown Parking Study, authored by the Nelson/Nygaard consulting firm, was published last year by the city, calling for the better integration of technology into public parking.
“People like the convenience of being able to use a credit card,” said Robert Malley, director of the Parking Authority. “Our study, when we did it last year, said that people don’t really mind paying the price for parking, as long as it’s convenient.”
The cost of the new meters and their installation was $80,000 to the Parking Authority, which is a self-funded entity that employs two full-time parking enforcement officers who issue $20 fines to drivers when they overstay their allotted time.
Drivers will someday have the option of using a smartphone application to add money to the meter remotely, according to the Parking Authority. The logistics for that component, however, are still being worked out, Malley said.
“It’s going to require integrating the meter software with the software in the handheld (enforcement) devices,” Malley said. “We are looking into that.”
The new meters are located on Belmont Street, Main Street, Cottage Street, Clinton Street, Crescent Street, Frederick Douglass Avenue and West Elm Street.
After seeing how the smart meters turn out for the city, Malley said the Parking Authority will consider installing 100 more to replace traditional meters in areas like Commercial Street, Franklin Street, Petronelli Way and Green Street, along with a few parking lot areas.
“Those meters by the bus station still need to be replaced,” Malley said.
Coming to downtown Brockton will now be a little more convenient, said Malley, and that will be welcome news because many people don’t like to carry cash at all, never mind handfuls of change.
“We’re moving toward that as rapidly as we can,” Malley said. “The old ones were all coin-operated. It’s hard for people. If they wanted to park two hours, then they had to have eight quarters in their pocket.”