Spokane installing smart parking meters downtown

SPOKANE, Wash. - Downtown parking is about to change as the city is overhauling its parking system, adding new technology to make parking easier.

Right now there are over 2,000 parking meters in Spokane that are going from taking change from your coin tray to meters that will let you use debit and credit cards.

Approximately half of the meters in Spokane are getting the 21st century upgrade.

Finding a parking spot is always the first challenge.

Downtown Spokane parking meters

"I usually try to do a couple of circles to find an open spot," driver Alexis Spies said.

The second challenge of finding the right change, is about to change.

"It's really time for us to make this investment," Jan Quintrall with the City of Spokane said.

In 2011, the city added 98 debit and credit card parking meters and now, two years later, downtown parking is entering into the 21st century with 800 smart meters. They accept your plastic and coins but that's not all.

"These are great meters because they are going to tell us how often they are used, when someone pulls away, for the real high turnover parking areas," Quintrall explained.

"I think that's great, I think that's nice they are taking into account different people and that a lot of people use debit and credit cards now rather than carrying cash and coins," Spies said.

And that's just part one of the parking changes.

The parking ambassadors will now have new handheld technology when issuing parking tickets.

"We are going to be able to walk up to this car and say, that guy has 15 unpaid tickets or this person has never had a ticket, I am just going to give them a warning," Quintrall said.

The new technology will also alert them if a car's been stolen.

You also won't have to guess anymore if you're all the way in your parking spot. The city has already started re-striping all the downtown parking spots and crosswalks.

"I don't know if it's necessary if there's posts at the front and back then you know you should in the posts, but maybe some people need the strips to see if they are exactly in," driver Hannah Pham said.

The thing that's not going to change is paying for parking; you still have to do it, but the city hopes to make it a smoother ride.

As for the parking kiosks, the ones in parking lots will stay but the kiosks on the streets will be replaced with the smart meters.

The city hopes to have all the smart meters installed by the end of September.