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Issue: 1251 Date: 8/14/2014
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St. Louis Parking Meters To Accept Credit Cards, Smartphone Payments

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        Beginning this fall, there will be more options for paying parking meters in the city of St. Louis, including credit cards and smartphones.

        The St. Louis treasurer's office has selected a joint bid from Xerox and Parkmobile to update the payment system. Xerox will supply new meters that accept credit cards as well as cash, and Parkmobile will launch an app that allows customers to pay the meter using their smartphones.

        Xerox and Parkmobile's bid won out over three others, with each technology undergoing pilots in the city. The pilot site for Xerox and Parkmobile was in the Central West End at the corner of Euclid and Laclede.

        According to Treasurer Tishaura Jones, the companies were selected based on cost, experience and quality.

        "Xerox and Parkmobile's experience in the industry is, in our opinion and the citizen advisory committee's opinion, paramount. Xerox is a leader in technology related to parking," said Jones.

        Jones said Xerox and Parkmobile had one of the cheapest bids, and should save the city about $200,000 a year in maintenance costs. The city's current contract with Duncan Solutions costs $1.7 million a year, and the Xerox and Parkmobile will charge $1.5 million.

        Implementing the meter upgrade is expected to cost $5 million.

        The meters in the other three pilot sites will be replaced with Xerox's meters within the week, and the smartphone app is supposed to launch within the month, but Jones said didn't know how long it would take to replace the rest of the city's meters.

        "With Parkmobile, we'll just install new signage, basically, and re-number the meters. So you'll be able to use that application on your cell phone a lot sooner than you will see the technology changing out," said Jones.

        Still, by sometime in early 2015, drivers looking for parking should be able to pay with a credit card as well as cash anywhere in the city. And people with smartphones will be able to stop carrying quarters and dimes as early as September.

        Parking Study Update

        The treasurer's office is also paying Desmon Associates to study best practices for the city's parking system. The company won't complete its analysis until October, but Jones said initial findings suggest that the city might reduce the number of metered spots from 10,000 to 7,000.

        She said some meters currently cost more to maintain than they bring in.

        The city may also raise ticket fees and meter prices in some locations. According to Jones, the city's current rates are the lowest in the nation.

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