New multi-space meters begin service in downtown Minneapolis

The first of a new generation of smart parking meters have begun operation in downtown Minneapolis, replacing the older coin-operated parking meters in town. By tapping into the City's wi-fi network, the new machines make it possible for drivers to pay for their meter time with credit cards as well as coins. 

The multi-space meter pay stations, similar to ones now in service in Chicago, Los Angeles and many other cities, were installed earlier in early November next to the older meters. Those old meters are now coming down and being replaced with numbered parking space signs. Drivers will use these space numbers to pay for their parking time at the pay stations. They can pay for time using credit cards, debit cards, quarters, or dollar coins. 

A total of 46 meter pay stations are in place in the North Loop neighborhood. Drivers should continue to use the old meters until they’re replaced with the numbered space signs. Once that happens, they can begin using the multi-space meter pay stations.

In the next few weeks, the new meter pay stations will be used to pay for parking for approximately 450 on-street spaces.  Next year, plans call for the installation of another 200 multi-space stations (approximately 2,000 metered spaces), with another 200 stations (2,000 metered spaces) going in the following year. Eventually, these meter pay stations will be the most common ones drivers use when parking Downtown.

Along with allowing credit card payments, the new meters have other advantages. They’re programmable, and have the ability to handle variable parking rates at different times of day. They can warn drivers of "tow away" zones during peak periods so they’ll know that they need to move their car by a certain time. They also will not allow drivers to pay the meter during these times.

This technology helps the City provide better services economically. The meter pay stations are solar powered and will take advantage of the City's wi-fi network by transmitting real-time data on parking meter usage to the Traffic Control Agents and Minneapolis’ traffic and parking engineers. Because many transactions will be handled electronically, there will be less of a need to empty the meters. That, along with having just one meter pay station per side of the block, means traffic control agents will spend less time collecting money from the meters.

Most of Minneapolis’ current single-spaced parking meters were installed in 1992 and are now approaching the end of their useful lives. The new multi-spaced meters were chosen as a result of a selection process that included written proposals and a six-month field test along Minneapolis streets.  

Published Nov. 30, 2010