Drivers will soon have a more convenient way of paying for parking in downtown Lincoln.
The city plans to install 1,300 "smart meters" starting on Tuesday. They'll still accept coins, but now will have an option for credit, debit and pre–paid parking cards.
"Most people don't carry cash anymore," Roberta Wolz of Lincoln said. "It's just the convenience, I think it'd be great!"
The new meters will generally be in the area bound by 7th, 16th, "M" and "R" streets. That includes areas around the Haymarket and UNL's city campus.
The new smart meters do however come with a small price. Beginning March 11th, the hourly rate at all downtown meters will increase from 50 cents to a dollar.
"Yeah that doesn't sound real great but you know we got to go with the plan I guess," Glenn Shanks said. "To have convenience, you got to pay something for it."
Meter rates haven't increased in Lincoln since 1995. The city's urban development director says the main reason for the increase is because the most convenient spaces should not also be the cheapest.
This adjustment will make parking in city–owned parking garages the cheapest downtown option, helping the turnover rate of metered spaces.
"Everybody wants to buy everything with a credit card and they never have cash so to be honest, if it gets more people to pay for parking, it's a good thing," Marissa Wanamaker said.
The meters will be solar powered and also programmable, allowing for the maximum parking time to be adjusted. Many of the people we spoke to said this will especially come in handy on Husker game days.
The City will begin installing about 1,300 "smart" parking meters downtown Tuesday, February 19. The new meters will be solar-powered and programmable and will accept credit, debit and pre-paid parking cards and dollar coins in addition to dimes and quarters. The meter installation is expected to be completed by March 1.
The City maintains about 2,300 parking meters downtown. The new meters will be installed generally in the area bounded by 77th, 16th, "M" and "R" streets. New meters also will be installed in the Haymarket lot north of "O" street and on 14th and "W" streets on the UNL campus. Some of the meters will be multi-space meters.
Beginning Monday, March 11, the hourly rate at all downtown meters will increase from 50 cents to $1. "Our meter rates have not increased since 1995," said Dave Landis, City Urban Development Director. "The main reason for the increase, however, is that the most convenient metered spaces should not also be the cheapest. As the private sector knows, convenience has value, and our current system is turned on its head. When parking spaces are both cheap and convenient, people endlessly circle looking for a bargain. After the rate change, City-owned parking garages will be the cheapest downtown parking option. The result should be greater turnover at the metered spaces, and that will benefit downtown restaurants and shops."
Landis said the programmable feature will allow the maximum parking time to be adjusted. For example, the meters can be adjusted to allow for nine hours of parking on a Husker home football game day.
The new Liberty brand meters from Duncan Solutions cost about $500 each and another $6,000 for management and training. The expense will be covered through the City parking fund, and no General Fund tax dollars will be used. The City Council approved the new meters and the rate increase as part of the budget process.
For more information on downtown parking, call Parking Services at 402-441- PARK (7275) or visit parkandgo.org.
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