Picking downtown parking meters



This week, the City of Riverside begins a three-week public survey on selecting replacement parking meters for downtown. As part of the continuing revising of SmartPark — the not-quite-2-year-old downtown parking program — the city will be demonstrating two types of meters, allowing folks to vote on their preferred replacement.

Although we found no major issues with the original SmartPark meters, some found them confusing and a bit inconvenient. Sure, using them required a bit more effort versus simply tossing a few coins into an adjacent meter, but the varied payment options — namely the ability to use a debit/credit card — in our opinion made the extra effort worthwhile.

At any rate, the city has given us two new choices — Luke and MacKay.

First up, the MacKay meters. Decidedly old-school. Simple, safe and familiar. But without options for either bills or debit/credit cards, one wonders whether these meters will be obsolete as soon as they’re installed. We think so.

Next, the Luke meters. Indeed, these are not your grandfather’s parking meters: bills, debit/credit, tokens, pre-paid card, pay-by-cell and validations are among the possible options. (Of course, if coins are still to your liking — not too mention readily available within your pocket/purse — Luke meters will gladly swallow them as well.) And, not only can you pay at any “station” for any space, they’re ADA compliant and can be charged via solar power.

For us, there’s no real competition as the options available with the Luke meters makes this an open and shut case.

Which will you choose?

Public try-outs

  • Wed. Feb. 20, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – City Hall
  • Sat. Feb. 23, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Downtown Farmers Market
  • Tue. Feb. 26, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – University at Main
  • Thu. Feb. 28, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Downtown Central Library
  • Sun. March 2, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. – University at Main
  • Thu. March 6, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Riverside Metropolitan Museum
  • Mon. March 10, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Sixth at Main




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  1. Man, I hope the Luke wins too… There are many times I don’t have change on me, and so it would be great to be able to use credit card or dollar bills to pay. I just hope the stupid taggers don’t carve into the screens and such.

  2. (Pub: Feb. 22 2008)
    We agree. How many of us carry around even $1 worth of change these days? For us to even consider the MacKays, at the very least, they would need to be able to take bills (which some models do). But indeed, the credit card option is by far the easiest. Why would the city even think of installing a system without this option? Seems very short-sighted to us.

    And though some folks won’t like having to maybe walk a half-block to pay via a centralized meter with the Luke system, not having to install and maintain hundreds — possibly even thousands — of meters, does have its advantages as well.

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