A number of traditional parking meters in downtown have been replaced with electronic parking stations this month, and more are planned in the near future, city officials said this week.
Five of the Parkeon Pay & Display stations were installed Nov. 2, Clayton communications coordinator Judy Kekich stated in an email. More units "are scheduled for delivery in mid-November and will be installed as weather permits," she stated.
The following locations are affected by the changes:
- North Central Avenue:
- Units (4) now installed in 10 block
- North Meramec Avenue:
- Unit (1) now installed at 11 N. Meramec Ave. parking lot
- Units (4) planned in 10 block
- Either North Brentwood Boulevard or Bemiston Avenue:
- Unit (1) planned in 10 block
The city started using pay stations before public works director Mike Pratt arrived about 10.5 years ago, he said. One is located on Bemiston Avenue outside of City Hall, and the other is located elsewhere in the central business district.
Officials wanted to try them before expanding the number available throughout the area.
"We thought they would be successful," Pratt said. Since that time, the city has upgraded the original machines and changed their instructions at least twice in an effort to make them clearer to drivers.
Drivers may use coins or credit cards at a unit to pay for up to two hours of time at a cost of $1 per hour. The unit then issues a time-stamped receipt that drivers place on their dashboard to avoid being ticketed, Parkeon's website states.
Pratt said he's heard positive remarks from people about the ability to use a credit card for parking and the look of the street when meters are gone.
"It makes the street look a lot less cluttered," he said.
Half of the new units were paid using last year's public works budget, Pratt said. The other five were paid for using the fiscal year 2012 budget. The cost per unit was not immediately available.
City officials waited until late in the year to implement the changes so they could have more time to evaluate improvements at the original pay stations, talk with business owners and save money by purchasing 10 units at once instead of five, Pratt said.
More than 14,000 Parkeon multi-space pay stations are in operation in North America, according to the company's site. Those stations help cities manage roughly 250,000 parking spaces.
Parkeon is an international company with U.S. offices in Moorestown, NJ; Miami Gardens, FL; and Tukwila, WA.
A Parkeon representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
Clayton officials raised rates at the city's parking meters and doubled fines last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. But they agreed to continue letting people pay just half the fine within 30 minutes of a ticket's issuance.
Pratt said the parking rate remains the same, regardless of whether someone is parking at a meter or pay station.
The city plans to add more pay stations in the future, assuming drivers continue to react positively to them, Pratt said. They don't require people to keep change nearby, they encourage turnover at parking spots in front of businesses and restaurants and they reduce the number of coins parking officials have to collect.
"I think it's a convenient way for parkers," he said. "I think it's good for the city."
Editor's note: Staff from Clayton's public works department will be available on Central Avenue for the next couple of days to answer drivers' questions about the new machines, Pratt said.