By Tara O’Neill
6:44 pm EDT, Tuesday, August 21, 2018
BRIDGEPORT — The City of Bridgeport had began a city-wide effort to replace its parking meters.
New IPS meters will replace the reviled MPS parking meters in downtown and the old Legacy meters throughout the rest of the city. The work began Monday.
“When MPS failed the city, IPS was the second in line and we went with them,” said Steve Auerbach, the city’s parking meter director. “It’s a new contract, a new group. They’re not related in any shape or form.”
The full cost to replace the city’s parking meters was estimated to be around $489,000, Auerbach said.
The 200 MPS parking meters were installed downtown more than a year ago. They were equipped with cameras to enforce parking payment — and effectively served that purpose, Auerbach said.
But, overall, the MPS meters were met with pushback and the city reacted to a rash of complaints including the cost — $35 a ticket.
Trucks would rumble down the streets and the meters would issue a parking ticket, the meter would reset to zero when a vehicle would leave a parking spot regardless of how much time was left on the meter from the last vehicle and the meter would issue a ticket within three minutes of a car parking on the spot if payment wasn’t made immediately, no exceptions.
Merchants said they were driving patrons away.
“The administration heard the voice of unhappy and concerned stakeholders and visitors in the city to the downtown area,” said Bridgeport’s Director of Communications Rowena White, referring to one of many reasons the city decided to replace the MPS meters.
She said the city tried to make the MPS meters fit the city’s needs but ultimately, Bridgeport let its contract with MPS run its course and then decided to replace all the downtown meters and other parking meters across the city in one fell swoop.
By noon Wednesday, Auerbach said, all the old meters should have been taken down.
An estimated 602 new parking meters are being installed, with about 80 meters installed each day, Auerbach said. The meters become active as soon as they are installed.
Payment options at the new meters in Bridgeport will include cash, quarters, credit card or through the Mobile Now app for smartphones. The app is also used for parking in Norwalk and New Haven.
And residents are already responding positively to the new meters that have been installed, according to Auerbach.
“The people seem happier,” he said. “People seem happier with how much easier the new meters are to use.”