The City of El Paso initiated a project in 2013 to replace downtown parking meters with high-tech models. Ricardo Lujan, Parking Meter Service Supervisor, spear-headed the project. “We have installed nearly 1,300 meters and expect to complete 1,400 by the end of February,” said Lujan.
The $1 million dollar project is funded by the city’s general fund, with installation expected to replace over 2,000 meters in the Downtown area. “We started on San Antonio Street and went down what used to be known as the ‘Golden Horseshoe’, which is South El Paso Street, South Stanton, Overland and East San Antonio Street. So far, we have expanded to installing meters in nearly every section of downtown,” said Lujan.
“The old meters accepted only city parking debit cards, quarters and dollar coins. The big difference is that the new meters now accept credit cards, not just debit cards. They still accept quarters and dollar coins,” explained, Lujan.
With so many citizens relying less and less on cash and coins for transactions, the move to high-tech meters should make parking in downtown easier. “The job of the Parking Meter Division is to keep these meters working and looking good,” said Lujan.
The meters consist of two components: a mechanism and its housing. The mechanism contains the chip and the technology that makes these transactions possible. The housing is what is installed into the infrastructure of the city street. “The new mechanisms manufactured by Duncan Solutions are called Liberty mechanisms, while the older units were called Eagles,” explained Lujan.
The existing technology is engineered utilizing cell phone signal communication systems. Lujan adds, “In the near future, citizens will be able to pay the meters using their smart phones with the use of an app.”