Solar-powered meters manage on-street parking in Chicago
Earth-friendly parking terminals are currently flanking streets of Chicago, IL, winning the approval of motorists and the Citys Department of Revenue. Until recently, single-space parking meters lined streets in the citys Loop area, hampering the number of cars that could park alongside individual parking bays. Then, city officials decided to replace the individual meters with Stelio solar-powered, pay-and-display terminals. In all, 1,000 single-space meters were replaced with 100 Stelio multi-space terminals to increase on-street parking capacity within the area. Made by Parkeon, based in Moorestown, NJ, the Stelio terminals enable drivers to pay for parking with credit cards or coins. Credit-card payments are authorized in real time over a wireless data network, offering convenience to drivers and reduced processing time for the city. By allowing credit-card transactions, the terminals reduce the volume of coins that city workers must collect, count, and deposit. Likewise, opportunities for fraud and theft are also decreased. Parking fees in the Loop area are currently 25 cents for five minutes, with a maximum parking time of two hours. As soon as a driver pays the parking fee, the terminal issues a printed receipt, which the motorist displays in vehicles windshield as proof of payment to parking enforcement staff. The receipt can then be retained by the driver and used to file any expense claims required for business travel. User instructions on the terminal are provided in English and Spanish. Each Stelio parking terminal harnesses solar power to charge its built-in battery. Installation is fast and simpleno need to excavate sidewalks and establish underground power connections. For the Chicago project, all Stelio terminals are centrally monitored using companion software. A modem in each terminal transmits maintenance and statistical information to a central computer. As a result, city service personnel quickly know about any terminal malfunction and can promptly replenish ticket supplies or empty cash boxes on individual machines. Besides increasing revenue streams to the city, fully operational terminals reduce driver frustration when searching for parking spaces. By using statistical data obtained from the system, city officials can gain insights about parking activity and revenue to better plan, manage, and develop on-street facilities throughout the city.