Scranton, Pa., Looks Into Solar Parking Meter Kiosks

Unlike more traditional coin-operated parking meters, the kiosks do not correspond to any specific parking space, meaning motorists can pay for time at a kiosk and park anywhere in the city.

by Jeff Horvath, The Times-Tribune / June 27, 2019

(TNS) — The city will soon get the same solar-powered parking kiosks used in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York.

Operators of Scranton’s parking system and officials from Flowbird Urban Intelligence, the vendor behind the parking technology coming to the city in the fall, addressed city council this week and demonstrated how the machines will work. Officials expect to begin replacing Scranton’s parking meters with roughly 200 of Flowbird’s kiosks in October.

The stainless steel kiosks run on solar power, feature a full-color touch screen and accept coins, credit cards and payment via a mobile app. Motorists pay for parking by entering their vehicle’s license plate number using an alphanumeric pad, selecting the amount of time they plan to park and choosing a payment method.

Unlike parking meters, the kiosks don’t correspond to any specific parking space, meaning motorists may pay for time at a kiosk and park anywhere in the city.

“Physically it’s more robust,” Robert “Bud” Sweet, director of the nonprofit National Development Council, said of the technology. “There’s less infrastructure on the street in terms of the old meters and, unlike the old meters, which would pretty much just receive money, this is interactive. It can tell you the amount of turnover of the spaces, the frequency of the stays. It gives us an idea in terms of use of any block face in the city.”

NDC and its local subsidiary, Community Development Properties Scranton, leases the city’s meters and garages and has another firm, ABM Parking Services, manage them. Operators of the parking system put out a request for proposals earlier this year seeking vendors to replace meters with kiosks. CDPS and ABM vetted proposals submitted by six firms before choosing Flowbird.

Sweet would not disclose specifics of the contract, but said the decision came down to “price, reputation and references.”

Flowbird officials touted the machines’ user interface, noting the screens allow the city to highlight community events, share important messages and even provide the potential to bring in additional revenue via paid advertising.

Installing the kiosks should take about a month, from mid-October to mid-November. Officials will map out the city and determine where kiosks should be placed to “make sure the user experience is the best possible,” Flowbird Business Development Manager Ed Kinkade said.

The kiosk update comes as council considers additional changes to parking downtown. Council advanced two pieces of parking-related legislation Monday that likely will be considered for adoption next meeting.

One would eliminate free 15-minute, 30-minute, one-hour and other timed-zone parking in favor of loading zones on downtown blocks. The other offers residents who live downtown a 20 percent monthly rate reduction, from $90 to $72, should they decide to park full time in the Linden, Casey or Electric City parking garages — which Sweet said are underutilized.

The loading zones are more equitable than free time zones in front of specific businesses, and the rate-reduction incentive should free up spaces on city streets for shoppers and diners after 5 p.m., among other benefits, officials said.

©2019 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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