March 7, 2014

Smart Meters in Bethesda


The 840 on-street parking meters in Bethesda have been replaced with new “smart” parking meter heads that expand payment options.

The new meters accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards in addition to coins or pay-by-cell phone.

The meters use a solar-powered battery system with a highly visible expiration time indicator. They have real-time communication capabilities, allowing web-based identification of broken meters and instant processing of credit card transactions that use the highest level of security. Information in the meter window displays parking rates, hours and days when payment is required and notes parking restrictions.

The changeover to new meters reused existing meter poles and the lower part of the meter head. The display portion of the meter and its internal workings were replaced with the new technology.

9 comments:

  1. The video clip on new parking meters showed nothing but played about 40 seconds of music.

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    1. The Department of Technology Services (DTS) says this is typically caused by a browser configuration setting (i.e. hardware acceleration setting) or conflict with a plugin or extension. If you want to let us know your browser, browser version and operating system, DTS may be able to provide some suggestions for solving the problem.

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  2. I wonder if these new meters have the ability to alert meter enforcement when the time expires?
    Hmmmm.

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  3. It's hard to imagine that buying hundreds of meters with this capability is more cost-effective than having one nearby machine that prints a receipt for display on the dashboard -- such as many other jurisdictions are using. In addition, using individual parking meters locks you into a standard sized parking space along the curb, so that all parking spaces must be large enough for a big pickup truck or van. Using the central-machine system allows people to take only as much space as they need for their actual car, and rewards those who drive smaller cars.

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    1. The Division of Parking Management conducted a highly successful pilot using the smart meters and reviewed all possible parking pay systems. Among the many positives of the smart meter were easy access and operations of the meter, the credit card option was the most popular use and the meter display was helpful in knowing the rates and the times for requiring payment. For internal purposes, the meter could be easily retrofitted, no changes were required in the space allocation, all signage on street remained the same, and the conversion took less than a week for more than 800 new smart meters. Regarding the cost, they also reviewed other parking payment systems, including the central-pay machine or multi-space system currently used in some County garages. Although that system serves its purpose, Parking Management found that the multi-space system was not the best use in terms of cost effectiveness on street. In the garages, the spaces are contained so accessing the multi-space machines is easy and convenient. On-street, the access is different. The spaces are more spread out. To avoid on-street parkers from walking too far from their car to access a multi-space machine, there would have to be one machine for every 8 to 10 spaces. For the 800 + meters, more than 80 multi-space machines would have had to be purchased for on-street use. The total costs for the machines ranged from 20% to 30% higher than the single space smart meters.

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  4. You should provide written instructions with still pictures that can be printed out, not just a video.

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    1. The Division of Parking Management in DOT reports that the information has been added to their website. The written instructions on how to use the new Bethesda "Smart Meters" can be found at the following link (under "Easy to Use Smart Meters")   http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Parking/News/IPS.html.   Additional images of the new Smart Meter also will be added to the website.

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  5. How will these new meters affect current handicap parking policy?

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    1. The Parking Management Division reports that the new meters will not cause changes in the policy. The law in place still applies. Any vehicle with a handicapped hang tag or license plate is permitted by law to park at a metered space for twice the duration of the meter, not to exceed four hours, for free. For a long-term space, the vehicle with a handicapped permit is allowed to park for free, as well. All parkers must still observe any restrictions in place, including rush hour zones, “No Parking”, “No Standing” and “No Stopping” restrictions. Regardless of the new meter, the enforcement officers must still be able to identify vehicles with the handicapped permits. Once they do, they will follow the law as it was structured and issued.

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