Digital parking system could replace meters in Bridgeville

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

As other Western Pennsylvania towns eliminate metered parking or shift to digital pay-by-plate systems, Bridgeville leaders are considering what option is best for the business districts.

Feedback from residents and recommendations from safety officials prompted the Bridgeville Parking Authority to explore installing a digital parking system that accepts credit cards as well as quarters.

“It's something we've talked about and priced out,” said Doreen Solomon, office manager at the authority, which, for more than 50 years has managed parking in town

The parking authority estimates that replacing the 245 parking meters would cost a little less than $100,000.

Authority Chairman Michael Connolly said each machine will cost about $460, and the borough would need to purchase several hundred kiosks to cover the seven lots and four metered streets.

Connolly said they are meeting with two companies to discuss options for possible meter replacement.

“I can't even speculate which way we're going to go with this,” he said.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority this year replaced meters with multi-spot digital kiosks that accept credit cards and require users to enter their license plate numbers.

Mt. Lebanon gradually transitioned from coin-operated to digital meters in the past several years, which officials say has been an overall success.

“There was a bit of a learning curve,” said Mark Quealy, Mt. Lebanon's parking enforcement supervisor, who noted that they often found coins jammed into the credit card slot. “But overall, we found that it was really well-received by the community.”

Other towns, like Donora in Westmoreland County, have eliminated pay parking to encourage patrons to support local businesses districts, and Blawnox removed metered parking because it operated at a loss.

Meters are an asset in Bridgeville, Connolly said.

“We pay our own way,” he said of the parking authority.

Each year in Bridgeville, meters and parking tickets generate enough revenue to cover the authority's operation and the maintenance of borough lots.

Though some residents have expressed interest in the convenience of the new digital systems, others prefer the current one-spot traditional meters. “I've used those digital meters before,” said Hank Turner on his way into Burgh's Pizza and Wing Pub. “It's a lot easier to just shove a quarter in (coin operated meters).”

Despite possible plans to switch meters, Bridgeville Parking Authority officials say there are no plans to raise parking rates.

In almost all the lots and parking spaces in Bridgeville, a quarter pays for one hour of parking, unlike many places with digital meters, where parking ranges from $1 to $2 per hour.

Officials are unsure if residents would be willing to put amounts less than $1 on their credit cards, but Connolly noted that Mt. Lebanon parkers pay $1 per hour on digital meters.

There is not yet a timeline for the purchase or installation of the new meters.

Kelsey Shea is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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