City approves downtown pay stations for parking

Meters will be removed, credit cards will become pay option for parking

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published September 23, 2015

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ROYAL OAK — Paying for downtown parking will become more varied as city officials voted last week to remove hundreds of coin-operated machines in favor of pay stations in the farmers market and Sixth and Main parking lots.

Unlike pay stations in other communities, such as Ferndale, that use a pay-by-parking-space method, Royal Oak will be using a pay-by-license-plate method and smartphone apps.

“My feeling is that I think this is a very good concept,” said City Manager Don Johnson. “It is going to make it easier for people to pay for parking.”

The target date to roll out the new pay-by-plate system along with pay kiosks is the spring of 2016.

“We talked to the city of Ferndale,” said Director of Public Service and Recreation Greg Rassel. “They gave us some information on the number of machines per spaces, and they also recommended that the best time to do this is not to roll it out in the winter because it creates a lot of confusion with snow piles.”

Rassel said converting to pay-by-plate would reduce signage in the lots, increase the use of the farmers market lot for special events, allow for multiple methods of payment, reduce meter collection times and greatly reduce the year-round maintenance required on the lots, including reducing the cost of plowing snow in the winter.

Rassel estimates that by allowing a credit card payment method, parking revenue will increase by 10 to 20 percent depending on occupancy, as people tend to pay more when paying by card than by cash. He said the average credit card transaction is $1.47 while the average cash transaction is 65 cents.

The entire project, including new meters and pay kiosks and removal of old meters, would cost less than $200,000 depending on installation costs.

Commissioners asked city staff during the July 13 City Commission meeting to develop a plan to convert the farmers market and Sixth and Main streets parking lots to pay-by-plate.

“The idea is that we want people to park in the lots, and not necessarily in the streets,” said City Commissioner Jeremy Mahrle. “We want turnover in the streets.”

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