Get ready for new way to park and pay

By MARISSA DECHANT – Staff writer

A massive update to Franklin’s parking meters will go into effect by no later than the first week of December.

The implementation of three parking kiosks in Lot C in the 1200 block of Elk Street took place earlier this month, and the new machines have gradually been phasing out the meters there, City Manager Tracy Jamieson said.

One of the biggest advantages, Jamieson said, is the user-friendliness of the kiosks. Customers can pay with change, card or through a free mobile application called Way to Park.

Way to Park can be downloaded onto any smart phone, and users can save their vehicle and credit card information within the application, parking enforcement officer Paul Myers said.

The application requires users to enter zone number 1080 for Franklin, and emails may be sent alerting users when their parking session is about to expire, Myers said.

Those using the actual kiosks will be prompted to enter their license plate number and the desired amount of time they wish to park. People may pay hourly, or they may purchase parking permits for $60 per quarter, Myers said.

Keychain cards with a spot for license plate numbers are also available at City Hall.

“People who have used the kiosks are saying it makes sense, and they’re easy to use. With anything, it is change, but it’s no harder than getting money out of an ATM,” Myers said.

Another advantage is the ability to pay at a kiosk or within the application and park at other spots in the city without paying additional meter fees, Myers said.

The change to kiosks was originally prompted by the upcoming state certification for the city parking meters, Myers said. Repairs to the old meters would have required at least $26,140, in addition to constant maintenance costs, he said.

Parking meter collections were also dramatically down due to the number of broken meters. Jamieson said 309 of the city’s 536 meters were damaged to some extent.

The move to parking kiosks, approved at September’s council meeting, came at a cost of $70,528. The price includes the three kiosks, two handheld devices with software and an annual maintenance cost.

“The initial investment is a tough one,” Jamieson said.

But, she said, the city is saving in other ways. The functioning meter heads in Lot C will be used to replace damaged ones in other areas of town.

The solar-powered kiosks are also fairly maintenance free and have a life span of 15 to 20 years, Myers said.

Jamieson said revenues should likely increase, as evidenced by other cities like Pittsburgh and Warren that have switched to parking kiosks. Digital advertising space on the kiosk screens could be another avenue to increase revenues, she said.

“This is the first step. I see us taking a few years to get everyone used to the kiosks and doing more as we can afford them,” Jamieson said.

Other parking changes

Tentatively effective after the Dec. 4 City Council meeting will be several changes to parking in the city.

Free two-hour parking will be available on Liberty Street from 11th Street to South Park and from Garnet Wood Way to 14th Street.

Lot E beside City Hall will be changed from metered parking to employee and permit parking.