New Portland parking meters take credit cards, solar power

Posted May 14, 2012, at 11:19 a.m.
Dan Culliton of Cale America installs a new solar-powered parking meter on Commercial Street in Portland that accepts credit cards Monday morning May 14, 2012.
Dan Culliton of Cale America installs a new solar-powered parking meter on Commercial Street in Portland that accepts credit cards Monday morning May 14, 2012. Buy Photo
This map of Portland shows where 18 new solar-powered, credit card-accepting parking meters are being installed. The slate of parking meters is scheduled to go live on May 21.
Map courtesy of city of Portland
This map of Portland shows where 18 new solar-powered, credit card-accepting parking meters are being installed. The slate of parking meters is scheduled to go live on May 21.

PORTLAND, Maine — The city of Portland Monday morning began installation of 18 solar-powered parking meters that accept credit card payments.

“A lot of the merchants downtown were tired of making change,” said city Parking Manager John Peverada Monday. “It’s a dollar an hour with a two-hour limit. That’s eight quarters, and not many people carry around eight quarters any more.”

The new meters will produce a ticket to be placed on a car’s dashboard indicating how much parking time was purchased. If the visitor finishes his or her business in that area earlier than expected, Peverada said, the car can be moved to a space near another new meter elsewhere in the city for the remainder of the time purchased.

“With [the older] meters, if you put money in, you’ve lost it,” Peverada said. “The next guy gets free parking.”

The new meters, which cost between $7,500 and $8,000 each and are funded through the city’s capital improvements budget, also will communicate with city officials, passing data by way of cellular towers like an average smartphone.

“Where it’s going to make things easier is these will be able to send us a text or email when the machines are down or when there needs to be a collection,” Peverada said.

The 18 meters will be installed in select areas on Commercial Street, Fore Street, Free Street, Federal Street near the Cumberland County Court House and near Maine Medical Center in the West End. The city set aside $175,000 overall for the pilot project, covering the purchase and installation of the machines, informational signs and ongoing maintenance. The new meters are scheduled to go live on May 21.

Nearby, Portsmouth, N.H., officials reportedly said revenue from parking tickets dropped by about 10 percent since that city installed similar new meters, as drivers became more apt to pay by plastic.

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