St. Louis treasurer wants to make paying at meters easier

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Some may look ancient, but St. Louis City's old fashioned parking meters work just fine.

Now, however, the treasurer wants to make a change so you will no longer have to carry change to park, by adding more meters that take credit cards.

Since May, the city has been testing 60 meters in the Central West End that accept both coins and credit cards.

Now, the treasurer plans to expand the testing to other parts of town and to include other types of more modern meters.

Generally, it seems people like having the credit card option, but so far only 20 percent of those parking at credit meters have tried it.

"I think people are still not quite comfortable with swiping their credit card at a meter, but people like it, especially folks who don`t havecash," said Dennis Gorg, owner of Coffee Cartel on Maryland.  Several of the test credit meters surround his shop.

"We have a machine in here that dispenses quarters (for meters) and we have actually seen a decline in the amount of change we have to provide for that machine so we know it is working."

While all the new meters the city plans to test will include a credit card option, some may also be the kind that work with a smart phone using a special parking app.

"Definitely apps are going to be part of the equation going forward," said St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones. "We hear from a lot of Generation X'ers and Y'ers that they want to use their cell phones to pay for parking," she said.

"The app will charge your credit card or debit card account and then you receive a reminder if you are in danger of running over your minutes, asking if you want to re-up or are you going to leave?" Jones said.

But some older folks are not so sure about all the new technology to do something so basic.

"I don`t like them," said Joyce Gallation. "Too much hi-tech. They should leave them original, what people are used to."

She may get her wish in the sleepier parts of the city.
But by January, six vendors will be chosen to install a handful of their newest meters in the busier parts of town, trying to make a good impression before June, when the testing will come to an endand a final selection begins.

In the meantime, the treasurer is holding a series of town hall meetings on the topic of parking.  She also will invite residents to send comments to her office once the new test meters are installed.  Jones says 20 percent of her final decision about which meters to use, how many to buy or lease, and where to put them will come from the public input she receives.

She expects installation of the meters chosen to being in July.

Treasurer's Parking Town Hall Meetings

Thursday, November 7 Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman

Tuesday, November 12 O'Fallon Park Recreation Complex, 4343 W. Florissant Ave.