Back in 2006, Metro Jacksonville pushed the City Council, the JEDC, and the Public Parking Division to invest in Smart Parking Meter Technology. Unfortunately, the will to move forward was not there, or so it seemed. However, those efforts came to fruition last week with the installation of Jacksonville's first Smart Parking Meters.
What is a Smart Meter?
Basically, this is a generic term for any Parking Meter that accepts some form of payment other than change (or in Jacksonville's case, only quarters). Some are of the "pay and display" variety, where a person pays for time at a pay station on a block, then displays the payment receipt on their dashboard.
How do Jacksonville's work?
Instead of having several pay stations per block, Jacksonville has installed them where the existing meters were located at each spot. While this is certainly more convenient than pay and display, it may turn out to be more expensive (however this remains to be seen). They are powered by a solar panel on the opposite side of the meter.
New Smart Meter outside The Jacksonville Landing.
The solar panel is located on the back of the meter.
How many smart meters are there?
At this point, there are about 10 concentrated in front of the Jacksonville Landing. There are also groups of meters on East Forsyth St (near Yates Building and Florida Theatre), and on North Laura Street near the Library and MOCA Jax. These meters are part of a three month pilot project to test the meters.
Are the parking regulations still the same?
As of now, yes. In addition, the meter is smart enough to recognize the current date and time, and post the rate for the time of day. For example, on Sunday, the LCD screen tells you "FREE PARKING". During the week, it will post the normal rate.
Why does the meter tell me to turn the knob after inserting my coin?
Since these meters are part of a pilot program, they are a bit "Frankenstein" in nature. While the mechanism at the top is new, they were designed to fix existing bodies that the company had. With that said, you would think that the Public Parking Division owns a couple Sharpie markers so they can cross this out. Only time will tell as to how much time downtown visitors spend looking for the knob that doesn't exist.
To see previous discussions that Metro Jacksonville has been involved in about Smart Meter Technology, check out the following links:
Metro Jacksonville's Lighting Laura Street and Parking Plan - May 2006
Article about Metro Jacksonville pushing Smart Meters - February 2007
City Council Defers Smart Meter Funding - February 2007
City Council Approves Smart Meter Funding - July 2007
Article by Steve Congro