“After an intensive study and engagement process, last year the City Council approved changes to the downtown parking system," Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said in a press release. "During that approval process, we heard from residents, customers, and shop owners who said they’d like to have more convenient payment options. As we move forward with implementing the system changes, we’re pleased to be able to test out these smart meters.”
Richard Viscay, who chairs the City Parking Implementation Team, said there are different types of parking technology available.
"We wanted to test the smart meters out before committing to them on a long-term basis,” he said in a statement.“The goal of last year’s Council action is to create better balance in the parking system. The outcome we’re striving toward is to have one parking space open per block. That’s the sweet spot for on-street parking. As we work toward that outcome, we also want to respond to people’s desire to have convenient payment options.”
“We’ll be moving forward with implementing the rest of the changes later this spring. People told us they wanted more pricing options, and that’s what we’re providing.”
Along with the new meters comes a new rate structure. Hourly rates in the parking lots and garages will be lower than the hourly rates for meters on the adjacent streets. In addition, lower demand areas, such as the South River area, will be priced less than higher demand areas, such as the northern end of downtown.
For example, hourly rates in the garages will drop from $1.50 to $0.25 in the Waterfront Garage and from $1.50 to 75 cents in the Downtown Garage.
In addition to the new rate structure, the City will offer a $25 monthly pass in several new on-street monthly zones.
“These low cost monthly passes are a great deal. We hope people who currently feed meters will see they can save hundreds of dollars a year by getting one of these passes," Viscay said. "They’ll be able to save enough to buy an airplane ticket to someplace warm and sunny—and not have to worry about getting a ticket.”
The smart meters will be evaluated for 90 days. During that period, city personnel will evaluate the functionality and reliability. Personnel will also interview users about their experiences. T
“It is great to see the City responding to people’s request for easy to use, updated meters in the downtown," Jennifer Bell, Salem Main Streets Manager, said in the statement."The new meters allow people to use their credit cards to pay, which is much more convenient than searching for change. Since only a few are being installed at various locations, people can test out the meters and give the City valuable feedback as to whether this should be implemented throughout the downtown.”
The public is encouraged to submit comments to the Parking Department by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 978 745-8120.
Justin A. Rice can be reached at email@example.com.