City finds company to install smart parking meters downtown, needs approval
BATON ROUGE – New parking meters are close to becoming a reality in downtown, which means drivers could soon say goodbye to their coin bags.
The city, introducing the item at Wednesday’s metro council meeting, is looking to hire the company ‘FlowBird’ to provide and install new smart parking meters. The current meters only accept coins as payment, but the new ones will accept credit cards as well as payment through an app.
The upgrade has been in the works for years now.
“It really has been the bid process that has held it up and trying to find out what the best equipment is,” said Darryl Gissel, chief information officer.
If approved, Gissel said the parking meters will be a roughly $1 million investment. The meters currently bring in around $400,000 each year.
“We had to proceed very cautiously to balance it and know that we were actually going to get the right return on the product,” Gissel said.
The current meters are so old that if one breaks, it’s hard to find a manufacturer who has the parts to fix it. They also have security issues.
“A lot of those meters have recently been broken into. The new meters are much more tamper-proof. And we’ll be able to tell, in the new meters, how much money is in the meters digitally. So we won’t have to go to the site to check it,” Gissel said.
If approved, the meters could be installed as early as April. They will also raise the hourly parking rate from 50 cents to $1 per hour.