There’s no denying the tiny bit of stoke you feel when pulling up to a metered stall only to find out it’s got a free HALF HOUR left! That’s on a good day; on a bad day, you’re rummaging under the car seats for coins to feed the meter. The City and County of Honolulu just announced an upcoming pilot project that will hopefully help drivers have more good days than bad when it comes to paying the meters.

Coined parking meters may soon be running out of time.

Starting June 4, 2012, the parking meter project will replace coin-only meters in several Honolulu areas with solar-powered ones powered that will allow for payment with credit or debit cards. The new meters will also spare you some embarrassment when running to a meter that’s about to run out, since you’ll now be able to add more minutes with your mobile phone.

The first phase of the pilot will include installing meters near the Capitol District, in its parking garage, as well as the Honolulu Police Department garage. There will also be 28 new meters installed on South King and Punchbowl streets, near Honolulu Hale. The second phase will expand to Downtown and Chinatown metered parking areas.

The only downside to this new system would be…no more free minutes! Because they will have sensors, the meters reset to zero once a vehicle drives away. They’ll be equipped with back-up batteries and use wireless technology to notify technicians of any problems.

The issue of security came to mind when I heard about this new system. How safe would credit card information be if it’s used as a method of payment? Luckily, no information will be stored on the meters or on any city information system. It’s a one-time swipe, and that’s it. Hopefully this new pilot project will be much more efficient for our travelers, who don’t always carry change when they’re on vacation. I usually travel with just my credit cards, some cash and maybe traveler’s cheques.

SOLAR-POWERED PARKING METERS • Pilot project installing new meters that allow drivers to pay with credit or debit cards; add minutes via mobile phones • To be installed June 4, 2012 in several Honolulu areas

Photo Credit: Honolulu City and County

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