Time expires for Toledo’s Smart Meters
Devices didn’t handle winter; new ones deemed too costly
So long, Smart Meters. Toledo’s seven-year experiment with you is over.
Conventional parking meters have returned to Constitution Avenue, which runs between several of Toledo’s courthouses at the north end of the Civic Center Mall.
Some of the parking meters in the Central Business District accept credit cards, but these don’t. So to park along Constitution, be sure you have quarters, unless you have a “smart key” or an account with Park Smart to pay by phone.
The reasons for replacing the pay-and-display kiosks with older technology are simple, said Dan Fortinberry, vice president of the Downtown Toledo Parking Authority: They didn’t hold up well during extreme Toledo winters, and many drivers didn’t like them.
Toledo’s four kiosks were “at the end of their life, there was no more service available for them, and there was going to be out-of-pocket cost to replace them,” Mr. Fortinberry said. “They were 10 years old, and they were not rated for our cold.”
Replacing the four kiosks would have cost the parking authority, which operates the Park Smart system, about $50,000, Mr. Fortinberry said, “while we had meter stock on hand” for the 32 parking spaces the kiosks covered.
And while nobody ever complained in writing, the parking manager said, there were plenty of verbal complaints that walking to a kiosk, then having to return to one’s vehicle to leave a receipt on the dashboard, was a nuisance.
Smart Meter signs remain in place, but the four pay-and-display kiosks have been replaced. The kiosks were at the end of their life and no more service was available.
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The retro replacements were installed, with little fanfare, in late May.
Rick Kerger, a Toledo lawyer, said he used the kiosks “once or twice” while going to the federal courthouse on Spielbusch Avenue and had a mixed opinion about their convenience.
“I find them pretty common in cities throughout Ohio and find them handier than trying to remember to bring a pocketful of change,” Mr. Kerger said. “It is a bit more of a hassle than just dropping four quarters in, but not having to remember to bring enough change is helpful with everything else I have to remember.”
He said he probably would have used those parking spots more often except that “most of my visits would have required reloading due to the length of my stay.”
These days, Mr. Fortinberry said, parking agencies are leaning toward use of individual meters that accept credit cards — as Toledo has done with some, but not all, of its metered parking.
A survey of several major cities’ parking websites shows that the latest generation of kiosk systems, such as those used in San Francisco, no longer requires display of receipts.
“People are getting away from pay-and-display,” Mr. Fortinberry said.
One of the system’s touted advantages when Toledo’s kiosks were installed in 2007 is that if you didn’t need all the time you paid for at one kiosk location, your receipt would remain valid if you parked near another during that allotted time.
But with no pay-and-display kiosks ever installed anywhere else in the city, that became a moot point.
Some modern meter systems use metal loops in the pavement to detect vehicles’ presence, which can be used both to enforce time limits against “meter feeding” and to support mobile-data applications that tell motorists which parking spots are open.
Parking authority officials have said, however, that with Toledo’s parking meters enforced only six hours per weekday — from 8 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. — the cost of installing and maintaining detector loops can’t be justified.
Staff writer Jennifer Feehan contributed to this report.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.
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