New parking meters coming to Honolulu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It always happens.  You slide up into that prime parking space - only to find you have no coins for the meter! Do you chance 'em? Under a new city proposal, you may no longer have to.

The city and county of Honolulu's new proposed parking meter project may be a little thing, but it could have a huge impact on daily lives.

Who hasn't done the ol' seek and search for coins in every crevice of your car? "I don't carry coins around," says motorist Angelica Gabriel. She likes the city's proposed parking project. It gives drivers the option of paying by coins or card or via your mobile phone, if you're not near the meter.

Gabriel says, "With debit card would help a lot because I don't carry coins, like I said, so debit card would just slide it in and ready to go."

Ready to go is the ultimate goal. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle says, "The whole parking problem, with people rushing to get a parking space and then, being worried that they're going to be late at the meeting, is made infinitely easier by having this type of device."

The solar-powered meter project calls for two phases.  Phase one includes roughly 370 meters in the Downtown, Chinatown, and civic center areas. The test period will last six months, and if all goes well, the city would initiate phase two - replacing another 2,700 meters island-wide. Total cost runs just under $1.9 million. Officials anticipate revenue increases would help defray their costs, and the city says parking rates will not change.

Each meter includes a sensor which resets to zero once a vehicle drives away. Eventually, the city plans to create an app which drivers can tap into for up-to-the-minute information.

"You could look at a little display," says city transportation director, Wayne Yoshioka. "It will show you which spaces are vacate, which spaces are taken, so that way, you don't have to go round and round the block."

It also gives parking enforcement real-time information – so they wouldn't have to go round the block, either. They'd simply look on an i-pad or some other device to log on and check out the status on each space.  And remember, you still have to be vigilant - or the fines could add up.

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