Trial-Pay-Station-MapThe parking meters that line Seattle’s streets aren’t exactly high-tech. Payment processing time can often take not just a few seconds, but sometimes more than a minute, and options to control how much time you paid for is limited.

The city is well aware of this and has decided to make an upgrade. First, though, it wants your help.

Some of Seattle's current parking meters are nearly 10 years old. Photo via City of Seattle.
Some of Seattle’s current parking meters are nearly 10 years old. Photo via City of Seattle.

Seattle has installed seven new parking machines in downtown Seattle as part of a mini pilot program. If you try them out, the city wants to hear feedback with your opinions on efficiency, aesthetics and overall functionality.

The city noted that the new machines will feature more complex parking rate programming requirements and better integration for options like Pay By Phone. Seattle introduced the pay-by-phone functionality this past July, which allows you to add time to the meter remotely with a cell phone. 

Seattle plans to replace all 2,200 its parking meters by 2016, with installation beginning this summer. The project will cost $25 million, paid over seven years. 

Update, Feb. 25 — Heard back from the city, and here’s what they told us:

  • Improvements include: Reduced credit card transaction times, cards will not get stuck in the meters, new display screens will “better communicate information,” new software will allow the city to fix problems faster, changes to rates will be made wirelessly instead of manually at each meter, and the meters will be more resistant to graffiti.
  • Funding for this project comes from the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT’s) 6-Year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget.

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  • wwbaker3

    $25m for new meters just as people were getting used to the old ones? Cmon, Seattle, that money could’ve been better spent on patching pot holes throughout Capitol Hill.

    • Steve Brownell

      Are you really asserting that it takes 10 years to figure out how to use a parking meter? Have some faith in humanity.

  • gseattle

    The existing meters were leased by the city for $6000/yr each, I heard.

  • JimInAuburn

    How does the pay by phone work? Does it cause the meter to spit out another tag and sticks it to your window? Or does the meter maid even look at the time, and just scans the barcode, which then goes back to some database that says you are expired, so they could update the database, and what it says on the sticker does not matter?

    • Taylor Soper

      I believe it’s the latter. Even though your sticker may be expired, if you’ve paid through the PayByPhone app, it will update the parking meter maid’s database.

  • Mike

    I’d love to see a breakdown of what costs $25M to replace them all. Are they going to recoup $25M before they become obsolete or is this just another pet project for somebody to prove they need to keep their job with the city?

  • Anon

    Will these work with the new chip & pin credit cards comming out in 2015?

  • Louise Penberthy

    I hope the usability is better on these. The first model of parking meters were badly designed.

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