Parking kiosks to replace downtown Reno meters

A network of computerized kiosks to pay for parking will replace individual parking meters in downtown Reno early next year.
The Reno City Council on Wednesday unanimously voted for contract negotiations to proceed with Secure Storage Technologies for the new system of kiosks to replace the 1,200 parking meters.

One or two kiosks on each block would replace meters.

People would put money or credit cards into the kiosks or use their credit card numbers and cell phones to buy parking time or add extra time, said Terry Oliver, a principal of the Reno-based company.

With the convenience of credit cards, he said parking revenues could be increased by up to 60 percent.

The city would use those increased revenues to pay for the system over five years and then own it. No up-front costs are involved.

With the network and sensor devices for each parking space, parking attendants would be given handheld devices alerting them to when time has run out, so they can issue tickets.

Sensor devices at each parking space also detect when a car has left and would be used to wipe out any leftover time.

"The sensor is key," Oliver said.

When asked if the technology is similar to a slot machine route, Oliver, a former Harolds Club executive, laughed and then responded, "absolutely."

Oliver said the network of parking kiosks with sensors is the first in the country. Oliver said five or six other cities are interested in seeing how the system works.

"Reno is going to be our first city," he said. "No other company has this technology."

If it takes off, he said Secure Storage could employ up to 87 people in building the kiosk systems, based on a study by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

About 20 employees and consultants have been involved in creating the system over the past two years, Oliver said.

The company also is guaranteeing that it will put back parking meters in case the system fails to perform as expected.

Oliver said that isn't a big concern as the system will be phased in a block at a time and that any problems would be detected soon.

The city's parking meters are 14 years old and considered to be near the end of their useful life.

Reno had three different vendors put their parking meter systems on the street last winter. Then, its public works staff evaluated them.

Public Works Director John Flansberg recommended Secure Storage because of its guarantees, the lowest cost over five years and the ability to add secured bike parking.

In the biking program, people can use a credit card to securely lock up their own bikes.

In partnership with a local bike group, Oliver said the company also is hoping to use those secured bike spaces to rent bikes as well.
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