Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Card-friendly parking meters finally showing up in downtown

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 1:07 PM

If you made your way downtown for this weekend's festivities, hopefully you did it on Sunday or Monday, when you didn't have to plug the meter. But if not, you had to pay up. The good news is you may have been able to finally, finally do it with plastic.

After much talk about the future of parking in Spokane — and after some temporary credit card meters showed up in downtown and quickly disappeared (they were a trial run, so the city had to give them back earlier this summer) — it seems the future is finally here.

A total of about 200 "smart meters" will be installed on Post, Howard, Main, Spokane Falls Boulevard and Riverside by the end of this month, says Andrew Rolwes, parking manager at the Downtown Spokane Partnership, which worked with the city on the parking plan. Another 600 will be up and running by the end of October, when Rolwes says another piece of the new technology will be available: smart phone apps that, using sensors on each meter, tell you in real time where to find empty spots.

While being able to use a credit card is something any normal modern person who rarely carries coins can get behind, some have scrutinized the meters because they also use sensors to tell when a car has left a parking spot and clear the meter. That does away with those precious leftover minutes you might get from the person who parked there before you.

And, as you can see in the photo above of a meter on Post Street, some have a minimum payment amount (that one was $1.20), no matter how long you plan to stay, so it may not be a bad idea to still keep a few quarters on hand.

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Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...