Credit, cash or app: City installs new smart parking meters in Downtown Honolulu

The city plans to replace all 4,200 on-street meters by this winter.
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 8:48 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 21, 2023 at 11:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New smart parking meters are now going up on Honolulu’s sidewalks — with the first 300 already installed in the Chinatown area.

The city budgeted $4 million to replace all 4,200 of its street parking meters with upgraded ones that have sensors. They blink red when the time has expired or if the meter hasn’t been paid.

“These are credit card-enabled meters,” said Chris Clark, chief planner with the city’s Department of Transportation Services. “They also accept coins and they have additional functionality with devices like your Apple smart payment or tap cards.”

The new meters are also connected to the Park Smarter app, which shows available spaces and lets people pay for parking remotely.

“I’m a big advocate for technology and convenience, so if there’s a QR code, great,” said Christian Gonzales, who had parked on Nuuanu Avenue.

“Other locations where I’m able to pay via a QR code and do everything via the mobile app, I’m in support of that,” he added.

The new parking meters come six months after a decision by Verizon to discontinue its 2G/3G serviced used by many of the city’s old digital meters.

City officials said because of that, HPD would not enforce payment at meters that accepted credit cards, but would enforcement payment at those that only took coins.

That’s been a nice break for some, and confusing for others.

“A lot of customers said they have no quarters, so if the machine is not accepting (credit cards), then you can park for free,” said Sam Say at M.P. Lei Shop.

“If I came downtown for a haircut, which is every two weeks, I’d pay anyway,” said Gonzales. “So I’d put in money for an hour and go get it cut.”

Transportation officials said the city lost $200,000 a month in digital parking meter revenue since January. But they stress that making money isn’t the point.

“The reason behind paid parking is not to generate revenue,” said Clark. “Really what it’s trying to do is to make sure there’s some turnover so that spaces are available.”

The city hasn’t said yet when parking meter enforcement will resume, but it’s just down the road. And that technology will also help police spot derelict parkers.

“HPD’s able to see locations where there might be a lot of customers that are parking, but not paying,” said Clark.

DTS plans to have all 4,200 meters replaced by this winter.