Drivers’ days of digging to find change for parking meters are numbered.

 

The city unveiled the first of 600 new Pay and Display machines that will replace 4,000 decades-old parking meters across the city over the next few months.

 

“Any place where we have a single–space parking meter now will be replaced by a Pay and Display machine,” said Doug Robertson, the city’s manager of parking operations, maintenance and development Thursday.

 

Pay and Display accepts credit cards, cash and later, the city’s new smart cards. Drivers will eventually be able to pay by mobile device.


“This will provide people with a convenient way to pay and will mean that people will no longer need the right change to feed the meters,” said Coun. Maria McRae, chair of the city’s transportation committee.


The receipts are also portable, said Lori Mellor, executive director the Preston Street BIA.


“If you come to Preston Street, have lunch and have a half an hour left on your receipt, you can use that anywhere on the city of Ottawa once the Pay and Display has been rolled out all through,” she said.


For the city, the system offers financial reporting and real time monitoring of the machines, which improves reliability, McRae said. Using solar power and eliminating the need for underground cables or batteries, the new technology is far more environmentally sustainable than meters, added Mayor Larry O’Brien.


Each unit, on average, will replace six to eight parking meters.


“As we looked at how we were going to redevelop this street and reclaim more public space for other uses, getting rid of those parking meters was a really good place to start,” Mellor. “It gives more space for people, benches and bike racks, and also cleans up the visual clutter in the street.”


And, Mellor added, “if we can retrain our patrons to park a little closer together, we can get 10 to 15 per cent more cars in the same (area).”