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City Council suggests electronic cards for new parking meters

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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 11:08 a.m.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority will consider a request from City Council to offer electronic cards for use at nearly 600 multi-space meters, the authority's executive director said on Tuesday.

Councilman Corey O'Connor, who suggested the idea, said the authority could bill customers monthly or allow them to put value on the cards in advance, either online or at its offices.

“We'll explore the possibilities,” authority Executive Director David Onorato said. “We're always looking to expand on the technology.”

The authority's board last month authorized Onorato to seek bids from companies to develop a program that would allow motorists to pay for on-street parking via cellphone. The board approved spending $35,000 on technology for an online system of reserving spaces in Downtown parking garages.

About 94 percent of residents surveyed last year indicated they were satisfied with the city's new meters, which take credit cards and coins, but O'Connor said council continues to receive complaints. He said the cards could be a “user-friendly” way to pay for parking. The authority installed 557 meters for street parking in Oakland, Bloomfield, Downtown, the Strip District, North Shore and South Side. Others are in surface parking lots.

O'Connor said the meters can be programmed to accept prepaid cards, but Onorato said he would have to confirm that with the manufacturer. The meters require motorists to enter a license plate number, and O'Connor said the cards could automatically provide that information.

“I like this idea,” said Councilman Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side, where parking is at a premium. “This can go on your key chain, and you just swipe it and punch in your time.”

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or

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