>UPDATE: According to Arlington County, applying the numbers to the pavement is delayed, so the pay-by-space meter start is delayed until next week.
The meters will control parking fees for the middle three aisles of parking spaces at the Courthouse lot, 88 spaces out of over 180. Unlike the other multispace meters already up and running in the Clarendon neighborhood on Clarendon Boulevard and at Virginia Square on Fairfax Drive and N Monroe Street, which print a receipt that is then placed on the dashboard, the Courthouse meters will be a pay-per-space system.
“Basically, you park and look for your space number marked on the pavement. Then, you enter your space number at any of the three kiosks, and make your payment. If you need a receipt, push the green button. There’s no need to display a receipt, simply pay and get on your way,” said Sarah Stott, Arlington County’s parking manager.
The new solar-powered meters are much more advanced than the old “single head” meters, and cost about $8,000 per unit.
The old meters produced little data, other than their operational status, but the advanced meters, also known as “multispace meters” have capabilities that the County should be able to use to improve parking availability.
For example, the new meters are able to report how much parking is being sold at a given time. Armed with this information and backed up with in-person counts, parking management should be able to more accurately determine how crowded on-street parking actually is in different locations, as well as detect changes in parking behavior.
Though a proposal has not been officially approved, the county may be able to use this information in the future to adjust pricing to balance the demand for parking with available on-street space. The old single head meters only allowed gross adjustments, such as the hours of operation, price per hour (constant rate throughout the day), and maximum time limit. The new meters are capable of much more detailed adjustment.
In addition to data collection and variable pricing, the new pay-per-space system is at least compatible with the idea of payment by cell phone, which has been successful in West Palm Beach, FL, Redwood City, CA, and abroad. Parkers would be able to use their cell phones to add time to the parking meter without having to re-visit their cars. Arlington is currently researching the technology, though there is currently no funding for implementation. Pay-by-cell is one of the policy goals mentioned in Arlington County’s Master Transportation Plan.
The new meters are currently installed on-site, but are inactive and covered up.
Tuesday night Soon, the old meters will be removed and the new ones unveiled and activated. Arlington plans on having two people available on-site from Wednesday to Friday during the week to explain the use of the meters and answer any questions.
The meters at Courthouse, like all meters in Arlington, operate from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday. The new meters accept coins (dollar or quarter coins), credit or debit cards. There is a Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 8:00 am to 12 noon nearby.
Thanks to Sarah Stott at Arlington County for the interview. Image courtesy Arlington County, used without explicit permission.