Fort Wayne Considers App-Connected Parking Meters

New parking meters, if approved by Fort Wayne City Council, will ease enforcement for city staff.

by Lisa Esquivel, Long The News-Sentinel / December 8, 2017
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(TNS) — Expect to see new parking meters, quicker tickets for expired time and higher parking meter costs on downtown Fort Wayne streets next year.

New parking meters that the city will install will allow parking enforcement officers to see through a cell phone app which have expired without a vehicle moving out of the spaces.

City Clerk Lana Keesling discussed the new meters with Fort Wayne Board of Public Safety members Thursday afternoon.

Rusty York, former city public safety director and Fort Wayne Police chief who was part of the group looking at new meters, said, “This takes us from the ’40s up to today’s technology.”

City Council must approve the five-year agreement for $799,175, with the ability to renew, for a total of 12 years, for 800 meters, including the poles, housings, installation and one year of free maintenance, Keesling said.

The city chose IPS Group of San Diego, which had meters that were the top in functionality and the center in pricing of three bids received, she said.

The money to pay for the meters would be appropriated from CEDIT funds, but Keesling said her office expects to pay back the cost so it ultimately would not cost taxpayers. The city clerk’s office expects to more than double the amount of money it has earned from parking fines this year compared to last and will likely get even more next year once the new meters are installed and another officer is hired.

Last year, it took in $145,000, but expects to earn $310,000-$315,000 this year.

Also, to recoup the cost of the meters and their ability to take credit cards, the cost of parking at meters on city streets will go up next year from 50 cents per hour to $1.25, at least for a period of time, Keesling said. Once the city completes a study of parking in downtown pay garages and lots, which typically cost $1 an hour for parking, the cost will likely be adjusted downward, she said.

The higher cost and the limit of 2 hours on the new meters are to encourage long-term parkers to go into the pay garages and lots, so spaces are freed up for those coming downtown for quick trips, Keesling said.

The city currently has 764 meters on the streets but expects to add some and remove others. For example, meters will be added back at areas that have had construction such as Freimann Square. Overall, the city will have a couple of meters as spares.

Parking at metered spaces outside of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday will continue to be free.

Highlights of the meters:

• They will accept coins or credit cards.

• They’ll have a two-hour limit.

• They’ll have a bright light facing the street that will go from flashing green to red when time has expired, so officers can easily see them on rounds.

• They’ll be connected to a cell phone app so officers will know exactly what occupied spots have expired meters. Currently, officers must chalk tires, and since they can’t be in all areas, they pick one. The new meters will allow them, for example, to know that three vehicles are at expired meters on a certain street and none on another street so they can focus their attention on the violators, Keesling said.

• The meters have motion sensors on the sides that can detect when a vehicle leaves the space. No more will drivers be able to park on someone else’s dime. If a driver, say, pays for two hours of parking but leaves after one hour, the meter will reset itself to expired.

• They’re powered by a solar panel on the back.

• The collection system can detect exactly how much in coins the meters contain, saving officers counting time, York said.

©2017 The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.