Authority Philadelphia has big dreams for its new Smart Card

As Joe Egan sees it, the parking meter is the Next New Thing.

It all boils down to the Philadelphia Parking Authority's new Smart Card, a plastic-and-silicon key to the future. At least that's the idea.

At a news conference yesterday, the authority's executive director presided with enthusiasm over the introduction of the card, which is available at a face value of $20. No more fumbling for change, Egan said. Instead, motorists pluck out a card and insert it in a parking meter. All of the city's 14,500 meters have been retooled to accept the cards.

philli.gifThe meter first displays the value of the card and then begins charging it for meter time in 25-cent increments.

Unhassled parkers simply remove the card when the desired time is reached. The meter will not charge more than the maximum amount allowed for parking, nor will it charge into restricted parking periods.

When the face value of the card is used up, toss it.

Egan sees the Smart Card and the Internet as potentially major revenue producers for the authority and the city. The cards, which will eventually be available for virtually any amount, could be used in the future to pay for time in parking garages, including private garages. The card could eventually be used for SEPTA or Port Authority facilities, too.

"This could be a universal transportation card," Egan said.

The sky's the limit.

"Dream a little bit," said Richard D. Dickson Jr., the authority's director of on-street parking.

To introduce the Smart Card, the authority will give away 20,000 cards worth $5 each in the next several weeks.

Egan said some would be passed out at 11 this morning on the 700 block of Sansom Street.

To obtain the cards, visit the authority's new Web site, - the site also allows for payment for parking violations - or call 215-222-9100.
Philadelphia Inquirer
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