PARKING/San Francisco meter project will boost revenue
Time is up for San Francisco’s mechanical parking meters, which are being replaced with electronic meters and a computerized management system. The city expects the new meters to increase revenue while decreasing meter theft.
Prior to replacement, which began in August 2002, San Francisco’s parking meters generated $12.5 million annually. However, that sum was far less than the city should have been collecting. Officials estimated that the city was losing $3 million in annual parking revenue to thieves, and that loss was compounded by the fact that 1,700 of the city’s 23,000 meters were broken or missing.
The meters had not been replaced completely since 1947. Lack of uniformity, as well as the difficulty of obtaining parts for older units, complicated maintenance and prompted the city to overhaul the system rather than upgrade select meters.
“The current system is outdated and unreliable,” City Supervisor Tom Ammiano says. “It wasn’t feasible to invest money in old technology.”
The new system consists of meters from MacKay Meters, based in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Reino International, based in New South Wales, Australia. The units accept coins and smart cards, and they track time with quartz timers. They are outfitted with electronic locks that are coded for access only during authorized dates and by authorized personnel. Housings are specially shaped to resist damage from heavy objects.
The meters are monitored by a software system that tracks meter usage, collection and maintenance. A $35 million contract with Norfolk, Va.-based Serco Management Services covers installation of the software and the meters, as well as collection, coin counting and maintenance services for five years.
All of San Francisco’s mechanical meters will be replaced by next April. Mayor Willie Brown estimates that, as a result of the project, San Francisco’s annual revenue from parking meters will increase $5.9 million.