Minneapolis adds more smart parking pay stations Downtown

Drivers are now able to use more smart parking pay stations in downtown Minneapolis. Over the past few weeks, crews have replaced hundreds of the City's older coin-only parking meters with machines that also accept credit cards. There are now around 820 parking spots in town serviced by these new pay stations.

A total of 36 pay stations were installed in March, joining the 46 that went into service in fall 2010. The new pay stations cover more than 600 parking spaces along First Avenue and other heavily used on-street parking spots in the Warehouse District. Plans call for the installation of more than 150 additional pay stations by the end of summer. That means there will be more than 2,400 on-street parking spaces in Minneapolis using these new pay stations by the end of the year, and even more will switch to the pay stations in 2012.

The multi-space meter pay stations are similar to ones now in service in Chicago, Los Angeles and many other cities. When old parking meters come down, they’re replaced with numbered parking space signs. Drivers will use these space numbers to pay for their parking time at the pay stations. By tapping into the City's wi-fi network, the machines make it possible for drivers to pay for time using credit cards and debit cards as well as with quarters and dollar coins.

The new meters have other advantages, too. 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.

More information on Minneapolis parking meters is available on the City's website.

Published Mar. 30, 2011