Starting in March 2012, the Capital City Development Corporation, along with city officials, will launch a pilot program for Boise's next generation of parking meters. They're "modern meters," said Max Clark, CCDC's parking and facilities director.
“We want to get ‘em out in the field for a three-month period of time, and try to make it as realistic as we can for the real product,” said Clark.
The new meters will allow for payment with debit, credit, gift and so-called "smart" parking cards, as well as the coins we're used to carrying by the dozen. The meters also sport battery packs, recharged by solar power. When there's not much sun, the meters will switch to their batteries.
"Our meter enforcement shuts off at 6 o’clock," said Craig Croner with Boise's Administrative Services Division. "So you can shut them off and actually save the batteries."
Two types of meters will be installed along specific stretches of Boise's downtown. One is a multi-space system, the other a single space like we have now. The multi-space meters will run through the BODO area, and the single space will replace a section along Bannock Street between Eighth Street and Capitol Boulevard.
"We expect that with some of the parking spaces, not all of them, we’ll try to put sensors in the ground," said Clark.
These modern meters also feature sensors, embedded in the pavement, which monitor when a car is in the space.
"A meter by itself doesn’t have a way of knowing when a car arrives, and it doesn’t know when it left," said Clark. "With a select 10 percent of the meters, where it makes sense, we’ll try to match the data with the meter from the data with the sensor to actually gauge how often they really turn over."
The digital nature of the meters also allows for the parking office at City Hall to monitor the meters without having to send out a technician. Some offerings even let customers extend their time using a smartphone. With the ability to use plastic, that means fewer jingling coins in your pockets.
"I think it’s going to be the best thing for everyone," said Croner. "I think it’s a better service to the public, and it helps us do our job easier. It’s a win win."