Monday, October 21, 2013

Thank a parking meter glitch for getting away without a ticket this weekend

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 1:44 PM

click to enlarge A new "smart meter" on Post St.
A new "smart meter" on Post St.

Congratulations, weekend over-parkers and/or cheapskates. The city's $1.5 million new parking meter technology hit a snag late last week, resulting in lax enforcement of downtown meters through today.

The first wave of the new "smart" (card-friendly) meters — 200 of them — hit the streets in early September. Last Thursday, a parking enforcement officer realized some of the new meters were not accepting dollar coins like they're supposed to. In response, Dave Steele, who's overseeing the switch to the new meters at the city, "asked the guys to go real soft on ticketing" those meters in case drivers tried to pay with dollar coins and couldn't. In the meantime, the meters were still taking other coins and credit cards, but the city lost any money it would have made off those parking tickets it didn't write.

Steele says the glitch is in the meter's software and came after the company behind the software programmed them to accept Canadian coins. He says the company identified the problem Friday and will install the fix "after hours" tonight.

The hiccup comes as the city prepares to install another 600 of these meters over the next month and eventually roll out new payment software that will let you pay any meter from your smart phone and, the city hopes, help meter maids give out more tickets. 

Speaking of dollar coins, who even wants to use them? According to the federal government, basically no one.

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About The Author

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...