City will test 2 kinds of new parking meters

Staff writerMay 7, 2013 

The days are numbered for Olympia’s parking pay stations, which are not quite 3 years old.

City crews will install 20 single-space parking meters from two vendors on Wednesday and Thursday. The brand of meter that performs the best after 30 days — Duncan or IPS — will be chosen to replace the city’s parking pay stations this summer.

The new meters will be located at:

 • Fifth Avenue between Franklin Street and Adams Street.

 • Franklin Street between Fourth Avenue and State Avenue.

 • Columbia Street between Legion Way and Seventh Avenue Southwest.

 • Legion Way between Columbia Street and Water Street.

“So during the 30 days, we’ll be talking to people” using the meters, said Karen Kenneson, business manager for the city. The city is also inviting people to give feedback about the meters at a survey online, at www.olympiawa.gov/parking.

Meanwhile, staff will rate the meters based on their performance and give results to a selection committee, Kenneson said. The test meters will be placed in areas just outside the pay station zone. After the trial, the test meters will be replaced with the city’s standard coin meters.

The proposed meter vendor will be brought to the Olympia City Council, probably in mid-June, Kenneson said. It is hope that full installation of about 310 meters will begin in August and take between one and two months, she said.

Removing the pay stations and installing the meters is expected to cost $693,000.

The costs of the two brands of meters are similar. The purchase price for 330 meters (including 20 extras for repairs and replacement) is $234,000 for Duncan and $243,000 for IPS. Ongoing cost for the meters, including credit-related fees, is $35,000 for Duncan and $44,000 for IPS. Kenneson said there is no cost for the 30-day trial.

The cost of installing the new meters comes just three years after the city borrowed $725,000 to install about 50 pay stations, mainly in the formerly free 90-minute parking zone downtown.

The council moved in February to replace the pay stations after fielding complaints that they are inconvenient, hard to use and costly to maintain. With one per block in a formerly free parking zone, the 50 pay stations issue receipts that are used as proof of purchase. Their replacements will be more traditional single-space meters.

Olympia already tested 36 “smart meters” from IPS during a four-month test last year. City staff found that they spent 24 minutes maintaining the meters, compared with an average 16 hours of maintenance per week for the pay stations, according to a staff report. The city estimates it will spend $22,350 per year maintaining meters versus $46,210 for the pay stations, a $23,860 savings.

The new meters will not accept the city’s “smart card,” a prepaid debit card that some employers give to their employees. The proprietary technology is not compatible. Kenneson said the city could issue a different smart card for the new meters, but she is leaning against that because the meters accept credit cards. To work around the issue, she said a new type of parking permit could be issued.

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