Start memorizing your license plate number — or at least snap a photo of it. You’re going to need those digits to pay for street parking in Baltimore.
New parking meters are replacing the old, city officials said Tuesday, and will require drivers to enter in their vehicles’ tag numbers during transactions at metered spaces. The change will effectively free those who pay to park from having to return to their cars to leave receipts on their dashboards.
The transition from the city’s 15-year-old metered parking program to the new, receipt-free version comes at a cost of about $5 million, or about $5,850 per meter, said Pete Little, the executive director for the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.
He said the shift will revolutionize parking in the city.
“If you park regularly in D.C. or you pay by phone in New York City, hopefully, you’d be able to use those major vendors here.”
Pete Little, executive director, Parking Authority of Baltimore City
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“It really is more convenient, not having to go back to your car and then walk to your destination,” he said. “It’s also great for motorcycle riders — this solves that problem of how you display your ticket on the dash.”
Little said the city is also working to bring cellphone applications such as ParkMobile and MobileNOW! to the city starting next year, enabling users to pay for parking by smartphone and locate available spaces ahead of time.
“We’re looking to offer up multiple options in the city,” he said. “If you park regularly in D.C. or you pay by phone in New York City, hopefully, you’d be able to use those major vendors here.”
He said Towson University has ticket-free meters, and cities such as Pittsburgh do, too. The meters accept payment by card or coins.
The new meters come from California-based IPS Group Inc., a company that will also handle their maintenance, Little said.
The city Department of Transportation will handle meter enforcement, he said.
The first ones have already been placed in a lot under the Jones Falls Expressway, near the site of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market, although those do not yet possess the receipt-free feature.
Several of those meters displayed rates Tuesday of $1 per hour from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. and $7 total to park overnight from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Rates at city meters vary by the level of demand for parking at a location, city officials said. The highest hourly rate is $3.25, while the lowest is 75 cents, according to the parking authority’s website. Rates are evaluated every six months to see if they need to be adjusted.
Representatives from IPS and the transportation department did not respond to requests for comment.
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Little said some 900 meters will replace the current ones over the next few years. The first 100 will appear downtown over the next couple of months starting near the lot under the expressway.
The city Board of Estimates approved in May an initial $5 million award to IPS for the meters. The meters were selected “due to offering lower cost to purchase and operate,” according to the board’s minutes.