Denver pushing for high-tech parking meters

The days of digging through your purse or dashing to the closest store for change to feed a parking meter and avoid a ticket may be coming to an end in Denver.
The days of digging through your purse or dashing to the closest store for change to feed a parking meter and avoid a ticket may be coming to an end in Denver.

The city's Public Works Department is pushing a proposal to install 150 "enhanced" parking meters near downtown and in Cherry Creek that accept credit and debit cards as well as change.

Denver doesn't have any parking meters that accept plastic at this time.

It has parking kiosks that do, but only in Cherry Creek.

Today, the department will ask Mayor John Hickenlooper and the City Council to sign off on an agreement to install the 150 meters as part of a pilot program.

The department wants to try out the technology from IPS Group Inc., to gauge the public's response and determine if it "works with our climate and system," public works spokeswoman Christine Downs said Monday.

"This is a pilot to ensure the efficiency of the meters and convenience to drivers," she said.

IPS will replace the tops of the city's meters with its "meter heads," which operate with a solar panel and a back-up battery, Downs said.

In addition to accepting plastic, the new meters allow the city to include messages, such as "Sundays are free," she said.

"The meters (also) will be able to send messages to the parking technicians if a meter is broken or if the coin capacity has reached 80 percent," Downs added.

The meters will be installed along 20 blocks downtown and along one block in Cherry Creek, but only on one side of the street so that motorists with cash keys can use them on the same block.

The exact locations have not been determined, Downs said.

The pilot program will cost the city up to $4,500 in credit-card services, which will be paid to IPS.

The program also includes the installation of 20 "parking pucks," which are wireless detectors that allow the city's parking enforcement officers to track real time data, such as how long a vehicle has been parked at a meter.

If the pilot program is well-received, the city may use IPS's meter heads and other technology in the future, Downs said.

"The current meters are a few years from reaching their life cycle, and it is time to upgrade the system, which will provide more options to drivers and ultimately better customer service," she said.

The city has been rolling out new technologies to increase parking management efficiency, including self-release boots that allow parking scofflaws to pay their fine over the phone and remove the boot themselves.
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