High-tech parking meters arrive in Detroit, confuse some
DETROIT (AP) _ Credit cards, cell phones and even old fashion cash can be used to operate a new series of high-tech parking meters going up around town. Some drivers find them a bit intimidating.
``You need a master's degree or something,'' said Robert Blackwell as he tried to figure out how to use one of the new meters in downtown Detroit. ``All I'm trying to do is not get a parking ticket.''
The meters are part of a 90-day experiment with battery and solar-powered, online-operated parking meters.
Some issue receipts that drivers leave on their dashboards to show parking enforcers how much time is left on the space. Others can be programmed to accept credit cards or allow someone to pay by cell phone. downtown.
The Municipal Parking Department has installed three different models in nine locations throughout downtown, New Center and the Central Business District. There are 12 units in all.
One of the new meters can cost up to $7,000, depending on the manufacturer, and can cover anywhere from six to 10 spaces.
Linda Harris, a parking department administrator overseeing the pilot program, said each unit can download information by cell phone or Internet to alert workers about malfunctions or the amount of money it contains.
The city is testing two types of units. The first is a park-and-display version popular in France, where a driver deposits money and the machine prints a receipt with the expiration time. The receipt goes on the dashboard for the meter reader to see.
The second is a pay-by-space method in which drivers deposit money for their numbered space, the Detroit Free Press said Monday.
A red light by a number on the monitor shows parking enforcers which are expired.
Boston, Houston and Washington have conducted similar pilot programs.
Detroit does not yet plan to convert to the new meters.
``We're looking at ways to improve the technology,'' Harris said. ``We just want to see how the concept is received.''
Some drivers are unenthusiastic.
``I hate them,'' said Loresa Robertson, a massage therapist who parked in front of the Courtyard by Marriott downtown. ``You have to pay for parking, take the ticket, go back to your car, keep the ticket. This is confusing.''
Karen Zarza was lucky she had her 10-year-old son Joshua with her when she parked near the federal courthouse. He figured it out in a snap.
Zarza said she stared at the silver box and didn't know what to do. ``I think they're silly,'' she said. ``I like the old ones. I'm old-fashioned, I guess.''