Cincinnati begins electronic upgrade to city’s parking meters

Cincinnati city workers began upgrading 1,400 parking meters throughout downtown earlier this month. City leaders tout the new meters’ ability to accept credit cards (Visa, American Express and MasterCard) along with standard coin payments. Business leaders also expect for better turnover at the meters, which in turn might result in more customers for downtown store owners.

Work began on the installation of the new solar-powered meters on the east side of downtown and has been working westward throughout the month. City officials expect work to be completed on all 1,400 meters by the end of summer.

“This keeps you from having to walk around with a roll of quarters in your pocket,” Mayor Mark Mallory said in a prepared release. “It will make feeding your meter faster and more convenient, and actually decreases your chances of getting a parking ticket.”

The upgrades to Cincinnati’s old parking meters was first recommended by Walker Parking Consultants in a 2009 study. The study made a variety of recommendations to improve the system’s efficiency and total revenues by becoming more competitive with market rates. Approved in April 2011, the $1.7 million initiative will also include the installation of 50 multiple-space meters similar to those found on Court Street and 3rd Street. In total, the upgrades will impact approximately 25 percent of the city’s 5,600 metered spaces city-wide.

Last year UrbanCincy discovered that a potential privatization of Cincinnati’s parking services could generate approximately an additional $3 million annually for city coffers. Currently the city collects around $9 million annually from its on-street parking meters, off-street parking garages and lots. Parking meters make up a small portion of that revenue, and a privatization of those assets could prove to be beneficial for the city.

City officials say that those using the new meters will still get their first 10 minutes of parking for free. The city has posted additional information about how to use the new parking meters on their website.

Parking meter photograph by Thadd Fiala for UrbanCincy.

  • Judging by the travesties that the Indianapolis and Chicago parking privatization deals were, any effort here to move in that direction here should be heavily scrutinized.

  • Paul

    Unless you are referring to the multi-space meter kiosk, the how-to linked in the story makes no mention of any requirement of dashboard receipts.

  • I was thinking the same thing as Josh, Indy’s parking deal is really messed up.

  • Jon

    The lack of clarity on the printed out receipt (only applies to space kiosks, not meters as the article says, caused a huge ruckus on the Enquirer page.

    Just to be clear: No Receipts At Meters.

    Also, I would be strongly against privatization of parking after looking at the failures of the programs in Indy & Chicago. The irony of this, is that I am against privatization because I think City government is too mismanaged to properly use the funds.

    In Chicago, they were paid over a billion dollars for a 75 year lease. They aren’t even 10 years into the lease, and they have spent the entire billion+ dollars by plugging their deficits year after year.

    I don’t see our city leaders being significantly more fiscally responsible.

  • While Indy and Chicago have had issues with their meter privatization, I do not think that should stop Cincinnati, or any city for that matter, from studying the matter for themselves.

    Cities all across Ohio are dealing with a new reality where the state has drastically cut their funding and eliminated some of their ability to generate revenue. This is compounded on stagnating sales tax receipts, declining property values and fewer jobs. This is taking a massive toll of city finances all over Ohio.

    Difficult decisions must be made when it comes to the budget. Either drastic reductions in services will have to come, dramatic increases to tax rates, or some combination of increasing revenues while also reducing spending. To me, $3M annually seems like to much to leave on the table just because Indianapolis and Chicago screwed it up on their end. Let’s come up with a solution and make this work.

  • Editor’s Note: I have corrected the post in regards to the display of receipts on your dashboard. This is not needed at these electronic meters, but is required at the ‘Pay & Display’ kiosks currently located on Court Street and 3rd Street.

  • Aaron

    From the “How to”: “They’re mounted on the same post as the older coin-only meters and still give you the first 10 minutes free.”

    Wait, are they saying the current downtown meters give users ten free minutes? I did not know about this! Nice feature and good to know it’s being retained.

    One small part of this new technology bothers me a bit. I see that the rate, hours and days of operation are on the display instead of being printed on the outside of the meter. This indicates to me that this information may be dynamic. Well, hours of enforcement are staying the same, so I guess they won’t be changing the timing for now, but could they program different rates for different time periods? Hopefully they don’t switch to an “event parking” mode during peak hours and charge extra.

    Still, I like this convenience very much.

  • Rob Jaques

    The meter hours and rates are also printed on the meter’s coin box.

  • @Jon: Couldn’t they just write the lease so they are paid in annual installments? Prevents mismanagement of funds…