BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — It may seem like a trivial problem, but finding and paying for parking in Bridgeport can be a royal pain for those visiting the city's courthouse or stopping for dinner at a downtown restaurant.
The current parking meters are cash-only and require a driver to keep an eye on the clock or risk a ticket.
“Quarters,” said Mayor Joe Ganim. “In a time when you can pay your bills online.”
On Wednesday, the mayor tried out the first of a series of new, state-of-the-art meters that will accept cash and credit and debit cards and offer instructions in several languages on a computerized screen.
“I’m excited,” said state Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, D-130. “I’ve gotten my fair share of parking tickets out here.”
The first three smart meters are available on Broad Street, just across from the Margaret Morton Government Center. If all goes as planned, the city will begin trenching to install more within the next two weeks, according to Gina Malheiro, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer.
The new parking meters feature downloadable apps that allow the user to pay for parking via their mobile phone or tablet. Using these apps, someone parking a vehicle in downtown Bridgeport could set up a smart phone alert for when time on the meter is running low, and more parking could be purchased using the phone.
The parking meter plan did not cost anything and the city will be sharing the revenue with parking meter management company LAZ Parking, Malheiro said. The city still is in negotiations about revenue distribution.
Michael Moore, president and chief executive officer of Bridgeport’s Downtown Special Services District, applauded the new meters.
“These new parking meters will help improve convenience and the parking experience in downtown Bridgeport,” he said. “We will soon be adding hundreds of new housing units to this part of the city, and these new meters will have a positive impact on the new residents of downtown as well.
Val Fernandes, owner of Funchal Cafe, wasn’t as sure. The meters charge 25 cents for every 15 minutes, which he thinks should be reduced to 25 cents for a half-hour.
“Who wants to come here and slide a credit card to come have some coffee?” he said.
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