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Minneapolis Cashes In With New Parking Meters

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The days of searching the floor of your car for quarters are, for the most part, over in Minneapolis. Installation of new computerized parking meters will be finished by the end of October, completing a two-year process.

While the meters may be more convenient, the city's cashing in. A few years ago, before any of the upgrades, Minneapolis made about $6 million in meter money. Next year, projections put that number at $9 million.

They can be a pain when you pull in to see them but the frustration level may not be as high as before since the new option allows you to park with plastic.

"I think that's what's great about the new meters is the opportunity to use your credit card," one driver told us.

Tim Drew, a traffic engineer who tracks all on-street parking in Minneapolis says he thinks will be welcomed. Once people figure out the process and remember their number it seems to be fine. Complaint calls have been cut in half, and so have the number of tows on streets where there are rush hour restrictions.

Not only that, but every single meter is making more money. When you take a look at the budget breakdown, there's a big difference. Overall, revenue is up about 15 percent.

Take a street like 5th Avenue South, where the old meters made about $20,000 in a three-month period. The new meters made about $25,000 during the same time, for a 20 percent increase. All of the money Minneapolis does make stays in the parking system to pay for roads and sidewalks.

The city is finding that, when drivers use credit cards, they'll usually add more time than they need. Before, when they used quarters, they'd chance it.

"If I use my card to park it seems like I'm adding more time to it just as a precautionary," one driver told us.

Most people don't check if there's existing time for their space, which you have to pay first to be able to see. It's a system that may be more convenient, but it's a change that has people digging even deeper in their pockets to pay for.

The city said people shouldn't feel like they have to overpay and to always check if there is existing time. Just put your space number in, pay the minimum and print to see if there's any time left.

So far, 70 percent of the city's 7,000 metered parking spaces have been replaced. Next year, there will be an app available so you can pay for your space on your cell phone.

St. Paul is also in the process of upgrading its old meters.

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