Austin on-street parking goes green and high tech

New solar powered pay stations will soon replace the City of Austins 3,800 outdated and failing single space parking meters.
One of the most significant changes to customers will be the ability to pay for on-street parking with credit or debit cards, in addition to coins. The first new pay stations will be rolled out on North Congress Ave. on July 22, with the remaining meter replacement complete by Thanksgiving.

Theres no more fumbling around your purse or floorboard for change to feed the meters. Now you can use your credit or debit card to pay for parking, said Robert Spillar, Director, Austin Transportation Department.

During the inauguration of the pay stations, the City will employ workers with the Texas Industries for the Blind & Handicapped (working in conjunction with Goodwill Staffing Services) to serve as parking ambassadors to educate and assist the public during the introductory period of the new pay stations.

Recent City Council action on the new parking ordinance included an incentive to reduce carbon emissions of motorists in the urban core. Now two-wheeled vehicles, including motorcycles, mopeds and scooters will be allowed to park for free for up to 12 hours per day in parking areas at all City of Austin meters and pay stations.

Simple to use

The new pay stations will have easy on screen instructions in multiple languages. Customers will be prompted through four easy steps. An online video details how to use the new parking pay stations.

1) Insert coins or credit/debit card to start payment.

2) For credit cards, press the blue (+) button to add time. There will be a 15-minute minimum time purchase. The meter will display amount paid so far.

3) When done, press the green "print" button to print out the receipt.
Your expiration time and date will be printed in large text on the receipt.

4) Remove adhesive sticker and use to affix receipt to inside of windshield on
side closest to street. Make sure it is high enough to be visible to enforcement.

City of Austin residents, visitors and the municipality will reap numerous advantages with the new pay stations functionality.

Pay Station Customer Benefits

Payment flexibility Stations accept Master Card, Visa, and debit cards or coins
Instructions in multiple languages English, Spanish and Chinese
Printed receipts provide a convenient record of expenses for business purposes
Receipt can multi-task - allows the user to take the remaining time on the ticket to another parking spot with City of Austin meters
Longer parking time customers can pay for up to three hours at most locations and up to five hours at other locations versus the current two-hour limit
Credit card safety the built-in security features provide for an instantaneous credit card transaction and does not store the card information to prevent fraud

Pay Station City Benefits

Solar power pay stations run on solar power, have batteries lasting three years
Aesthetically pleasing the new pay stations will replace 8 -11 meters with one station, cleaning up the sidewalks for pedestrians and eliminating the picket fence look of single space meters.
Greater efficiency the new technology will notify the City electronically when the units need maintenance or the coin boxes are full reducing field checks and coin collection trips.
Increased parking availability - parallel parking spaces will not need to be defined so cars can squeeze into a block as space allows. Cities normally see a 10-15% increase in parking availability.
No more broken meters customers can obtain a parking receipt from any pay station. The City will save time on repairs and have a predictable revenue stream.
Made in Texas the electronics for the machines are assembled in Plano, TX, a plus for the Texas economy, with just the housing units coming from France.

Recycling and Reuse of Old Meters

There is lot of interest in the recycling of the old single space parking meters. Once the old meters are removed from service, the City of Austin will inventory the supply and establish their condition for reuse, recycling or sale. Some of the meters will be held in reserve to replace areas that will continue to have single space meters.

The recycling effort will involve both creative reuse of the meters for charitable purposes and re-selling through surplus sales. Approximately 500 meters will be available for the recycling program. The meter poles will be sold for scrap metal.

Councilmember Randi Shade will lead the effort to recycle/reuse the old meters with input from the community. An announcement about the recycling effort will be forthcoming in the next month.

New Bicycle Racks Downtown

As the old parking meters poles were often used to lock up bicycles in the downtown area, the City has been anticipating the meter removal and planned ahead. Working with the Bicycle Advisory Council and the Downtown Austin Alliance, the City will finalize locations for new bicycle rack installations to occur in the same timeframe for which the poles would be removed.

History/ Background

An Austin Transportation Department analysis of the current Parking Meter System in Summer 2008 found the system to be in failing condition. Approximately 3,800 single space meters, with expected operational life of 10 years, had been in service 13 plus years. More than 18,000 meter failures were predicted for 2008-2009, increasing city staff labor costs to repair meters and forfeiting hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the City.

The City Council on March 5 approved the replacement of 3,800 single-space meters with pay-and-display (Pay Stations) and authorized a purchase of up to 750 stations for $8,399,743. The City will use parking revenue from the Pay Stations to pay off the purchase in approximately eight years. The new pay stations have an expected operational life of 15 years.

The Parking ordinance passed by the City Council on June 11 maintains the existing fees and hours of operation previously established. Free parking privileges are continued for former Prisoners or War, Pearl Harbor survivors, and Purple Heart recipients. (State law provides free meter parking privileges for persons with a disability.)
City of Austin
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