The city administration has been bragging on its plan to replace most of Honolulu’s parking meters with new “smart meters” that will take credit cards and provide increased security.
It looks like the Caldwell administration put out a press release on August 18 announcing plans to upgrade 1,000 parking meters around the city.
Phase two of the city’s smart meter project includes replacing 333 existing smart meters with the latest model that accepts the chip cards. Another 676 coin meters will be updated as well. This will also add 51 new smart meters in Waikiki on Launiu Street and Kaiolu Streets which previously didn’t have any meters at all. When the city is finished with this second phase, all $1.50 per hour meters will accept credit cards.
“The smart meters except credit cards as well as coins, and they have larger screens that are easier to read. It also accepts the latest version of the EMV cards. The ones with the chip. So it provides better fraud protection, better safety and security for the customers,” said Mark Garrity of the city Department of Transportation Services.
The announcement came just two days after Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa introduced a resolution calling for such an upgrade.
Ozawa’s resolution describes some of the supposed advantages of the new meters:
WHEREAS, in recent years, municipalities throughout the country have been replacing traditional Coin-only parking meters with smart parking meters that allow payment by credit card or mobile phone; and
WHEREAS, smart parking meters are generally paired with wireless sensors embedded in the pavement or installed in stalls to detect the presence of vehicles; and
WHEREAS, the advantages of smart parking meter technology include: payment convenience, warning alerts for users, improved compliance and enforcement, more efficient parking space usage, and comprehensive user data collection; and
I was especially interested in the reference to parking meters that work with a smart phone app, allowing both payments and tracking of time remaining on the meter.
We’ve seen these in a number of mainland cities, and there were prior hints that Honolulu was going in this direction.
Back in 2012, when a pilot project with new meters was being discussed, Hawaii News Now reported:
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.”
Well, it’s been four years since that time, but no details seem to be available about the type of meters than have been selected, their features, whether they are smartphone compatible, the vendor, etc.
There was one news report indicating that problems had come up with the first several hundred meters installed as a pilot project.
Almost a year ago, KHON reported:
The city says they have had problems with the solar panels on the meters, batteries draining too quickly and in some cases people would put in coins and the machine would not show credit.
“They didn’t do everything they were represented to do,” said Formby. “So it is whether or not you are getting the value for your money. There are several features that we had not engaged or that we engaged once and then we turned it off and it should not be that way if you pay for the full complement of features you should get them and we did not.”
But how that turned out, whether and how problems were resolved, and what features will be available in the latest batch of meters, is unknown. At least to the public.
I tried searching the city’s Docushare system, and came up with nothing. Then I checked the city’s Procurement Office website. In the section on bid results, there were two entries on point. Each included a link promising that bid results could be downloaded.
But click on the link, and instead of bid results, you get this message:
The file you are trying to open does not exist.
Another case where the city comes up short on the transparency scale.