City finds firm to install automated parking meters

The city has chosen a vendor to install new solar-powered parking meters downtown that will accept coins, credit cards or smart cards and even print receipts.
Cale Parking Systems USA, of Tampa, Fla., has been tapped to supply and install between 10 and 20 multi-space "pay and display" units in Portland.

Details are still being hammered out, but the city's parking manager, John Peverada, said Thursday that the city hoped to "install the new multi space pay and display meters this fall."

Peverada reported in a memo last week that a field of three vendors had been narrowed down to one Cale based on scoring of the proposals submitted under a request for proposal solicitation.

The City Council in December approved spending $200,000 for a test of the "pay and display" system, where about 100 meters would be replaced with pay stations. On June 15, the city received and opened three responses to the RFP, and reviewed proposals from Cale Parking Systems USA, Digital/ITS and Parkeon.

Digital/ITS withdrew from the competition, and an internal selection committee then conducted 90-minute interviews with Cale and Parkeon representatives on July 20 "so they could answer some additional questions and demonstrate their product for the committee," Peveradam stated in the July 22 memo. The Cale proposal scored the highest rating, he said.

Cale quoted a price of $7,550 per unit and scored high on company references and functionality.

The city currently has 1,525 single-space electronic parking meters with traditional coin slots.

The "pay and display" pay stations will be: solar powered; compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; able to accept nickels, dimes and quarters as well as magnetic stripe and credit/debit cards; equipped with wireless two-way communications for city maintenance; and designed to print receipts for customers.

Other New England cities have invested in automated parking meters and reported a positive response.

David Florence, parking manager for Concord, N.H., said similar automated parking meters installed in New Hampshire's capital city prompted overwhelmingly positive public feedback.

"They're probably one of the best companies I've ever had to do business with," Florence said, and the multi-space units are a step up from single-space coin-fed meters. "They're much better than the single-space parking meter," he said.

Concord has equipped two parking garages with pay-by-space applications, and the city plans to equip a third garage on Monday, he said. In its initial foray into automated metering, Concord installed 70 parking kiosks last September, and another six are planned this month for a total of 76 kiosks. These automated units cover about 55 percent of the city's public parking, or 600 spaces on the street as well as the parking garages, Florence said.

"We've just topped 600,000 transactions, and we've had very few negative comments," Florence said.

Cities that convert to automated meters can anticipate a 15 to 20 percent increase in revenue from the lack of overlap the revenue slippage when one motorist poaches off another's unexpired meter, Florence explained. Each unit covers about 10 spaces on the street (or about 50 spaces in a garage). So the cost of $7,550 per unit is roughly equivalent to a cost of $750 per meter and pole for individual space meters, he said.

Manchester and Portsmouth, N.H. also have added automated parking meters.

Florence said Concord hopes to investigate technology that allows a motorist to pay by cell phone. This same technology is part of the package of specifications requested by Portland officials.
Cale Parking Systems USA
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