Richmond’s green parking meters have a problem

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) –Some new, environmentally friendly parking meters are adding to the hassle of parking around VCU’s main campus.

The solar-powered pay stations require users to punch in data on a key pad, follow prompts, make a payment and then take a receipt. That ticket shows how much time is left and is then displayed on a vehicle’s dashboard.

While it sounds simple, some folks are having problems.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I get a ticket while trying to get the stupid machine processed,” said Megan Mair.

Steven Bergin, Richmond’s Department of Public Works Acting Operational Director, said the city replaced some old parking meters with 71 pay stations because they are “more efficient and less costly.”

However, the new battery-operated machines that are powered using solar panels lose their charge when it’s cloudy.

“Sometimes we do get calls when the battery is out. We’re usually notified electronically,” said Bergin. “These machines communicate with us.”

Bergin said DPW’s staff is dispatched out to replace those batteries that sometimes only last up to a week.

But for drivers, that could mean getting a fine. Bergin admitted that the city has no way to notify the public that the machines are out of service.

“We do have a phone number on the machine that they can call and let them know the machine is malfunctioning,” added Bergin.

Bergin said when those machines malfunction, parking officials are notified and will mark tires to determine how long a car has been in a parking spot.

If you get a ticket as result of the pay station malfunctioning, call 311 and connect to Richmond’s finance department to dispute the charge.

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