Cincinnati approves transition to solar-powered parking meters

Yesterday, Cincinnati’s city council unanimously approved legislation that will replace and upgrade parking meters throughout the city.

The legislation approves the City to move forward with a $1.7 million purchase of 1,400 individual solar-powered meters, and 50 multiple-space meters. The new electronic parking meters allow users to pay with credit card, while existing meters require users to pay with coins.

Solar-powered parking pay station on Court Street

The new meters will upgrade approximately 25 percent of the City’s 5,600 parking meters city-wide and 100 percent of the parking meters downtown where parking rates are now $2 per hour.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls’ office says that the new parking meters are expected to increase revenues and parking turnover. They say the increased revenue will come, in part, because a lot of people will now use credit cards to pay for the full two hour maximum, and because users will no longer be able to piggy-back off of previous time paid for at the meters.

Qualls’ office also believes the new meters will result in fewer people plugging the meters all day, and thus increase turnover.

The multi-space meters will function similarly to those currently found on Court Street and Second Street where users pay at a single pay station per block, then display a ticket on their dash board. City leaders envision that these pay stations will eventually be able to be used for issuing tickets for the Cincinnati Streetcar.

The investment is being funded through a parking revenue surplus, and was one of the recommendations to come from a 2009 study by Walker Parking Consultants that detailed actions the City could take to improve its parking infrastructure while also increasing parking revenues.

Court Street parking pay station photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.

  • Does that mean free parking all winter? Thanks for the picture!

  • Just read that the parking meter was invented by a newspaper guy in 1935.
    When I heard council discuss meters, I thought these seemed the most impractical & inconvenient. Having to park, walk over to the machine, get a ticket & walk back to your car, get back inside & place the ticket should be a real business killing headache. It will especially be fun in inclement weather.
    That being said, I guess there is signage directing a driver from the parking space to the machine? Or is the motorist just supposed to know?
    I thought the gizmos that just went inside the current meters made a lot more sense. They even had the potential to monitor movement & automatically ticket people.
    Will credit card use allow for the collection of personal data, so the city can learn more about the demographics of street parking downtown visitors?
    That could be valuable.

  • Aaron Watkins

    @Quimbob, in my circle, we call those first world problems. The audacity of them to make us walk from our cars to a machine and then back again to our cars! The nerve!

  • Dale Brown

    Damn, nothing better than finding a meter that still had time on it.

    Interesting that Quall’s didn’t mention the fees that are charged to process credit cards, which will be a negative on return. But it beats carrying around a sackful of change.

  • A surplus you say?
    If you listen to the teabaggers no one in government can handle money.

  • Zack

    1) will 10 mins still be free?
    2) im gonna go ahead and assume that municipalities get a nice deal on cc fees. This isnt the quik-e-mart.
    3) What sort of demographic info is available other than age and billing address? Not like they can access and more importantly intelligently process purchase information (but i like the way you think)

  • @Quimbob: 1,400 of these new solar-powered meteres are individual meters for individual parking spaces. An additional 50 will be of the one per block variety serving multiple spaces. So in a nutshell, in most cases you will not have the hassle of having to walk an extra distance to pay and then return to display your ticket…it will be done right there.

  • Cygnus

    While waiting for the Burger Truck to cook up my lunch the other day, I overheard a conversation that with the recent inclement weather, the parking meters had not been functioning. People were parking for free and parking all day. How will this be handled when all downtown meters are “offline” due to a day of no sunshine?

  • Zack


    Do you shut down if you dont eat immediately upon waking up? Neither do parking meters.

    I dont know if people are joking, but why all, or any, grief over this decision? Its BETTER for everyone because you dont have to carry change.

  • Dustin Clark

    Override the “Like” button, I LOVE THIS!!

    They cover all of Downtown Miami and South Beach (+ many large cities). It becomes very user friendly, as you can buy a few hours and be able to use the same slip when you have multiple destinations in downtown, or when running arraigns. Including the obvious point that many no longer carry much cash (or not at all, like myself) let alone a bundle of coins, the credit card feature rocks–and these still take coins + even take dollar BILLS as well! And the box per block is a great on many points: more efficient for maintenance of the machine, more time efficient collecting money, less clutter and disruption in the street furniture (a huge point when you have to fix sidewalks).

    @Quimbob: Cinci has small blocks so your typically only 150′ away at most–a non issue for all except the disabled, and the morbidly obese (the latter should ditch their car all together and walk everywhere!) And it POURS rain DAILY in Miami and its a non-issue.
    @Cygnus: Not sure that this is truely an issue. They use these boxes north of us (where it snows more) and they work just fine.

  • This is fascinating. I hope solar panels are made that harvest more of the spectrum. With that approach, they might become viable, commercially speaking.