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A hybrid vehicle outfitted with mounted cameras and computer software designed to detect violations by scanning the license plates of parked cars will begin roaming downtown Bangor starting next week.
The vehicle, a hybrid Toyota RAV4, has been leased to the city by Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Republic Parking System, Inc. and was unveiled Monday.
“Historically, there’s been a problem with cars shuffling,” Community and Economic Development Officer Tyler Collins said. The efficiency of the new system, which will only be used in the city’s downtown, will speed up policing of violations in the hope of provoking faster turnover of parking spaces, he said. It’s also intended to encourage drivers to use parking garages and permitted lots.
A Republic Parking employee will drive the vehicle, which contains license plate recognition technology similar to systems used by police, according to Republic Parking senior vice president Jack Skelton. As the vehicle passes parked cars in timed spaces, timestamped photos are snapped rapid fire. Simultaneously, two cameras in the vehicle’s rear snap photos of each car’s tire valve stem to later help the driver determine if the vehicle was moved at any point, he said.
If the car isn’t moved after its allotted time expires, the system notifies the RAV4’s driver, who then issues a ticket on the spot. Parking ticket costs will not change with the new technology, and license plate photos will be deleted within 72 hours, city officials said.
City councilors voted to allocate $31,000 this year to help fund the new technology and later approved a five-year lease with the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company for the endeavor. Republic Parking currently manages parking at Bangor International Airport and some downtown lots and garages.
The new system will roll out Monday, Oct. 1.
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