City adds solar-powered parking meters on H Street

A stretch in front of University Yard was recently selected to serve as one of five test locations for a new parking meter program by the District Department of Transportation.

Eleven solar-powered meters were installed on the 2000 block of H Street. The meters not only accept coins, but credit cards as well.

“The solar-powered, credit-card-accepting single space meter is an integral part of our comprehensive evaluation and restructuring of the parking program in the District,” Mayor Adrian Fenty said in a department of transportation news release this month.

The area in front of University Yard and the GW Law School, along with other locations in Northwest and Northeast D.C., were selected based on high demand and revenue and an aging meter stock, according to the same release.

“At this point, the majority of the feedback that we are getting [about the meters] is positive,” said Karyn Le Blanc, a spokeswoman for the department. Le Blanc added that the program will be reevaluated in 90 days.

For now, DDoT is asking the public for its input. Residents and visitors can submit feedback to the Mayor’s Call Center by dialing 311, the online service request center at DC.gov, or DDoT’s Twitter page at twitter.com/DDOTDC.

If successful, the initiative may be implemented beyond the five current zones.

Parkers may eventually be able to pay the meter by phone, too. DDoT has plans to pilot a system in which parkers can pay “by networking into the web-based system, and communicating via wireless to the meter itself,” according to the news release.

Another District initiative involving credit cards could allow Metro riders to use credit cards and debit cards at fare gates in the next year or so.

In May 2009, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority announced it was looking into the additional form of payment, which would have riders wave a bank card in front of a sensor instead of using SmarTrip cards or paper farecards.

Metro Board member Peter Benjamin told WTOP radio this week that Metro is working on changing farecard turnstiles to accept credit and debit cards.

A Metro spokesman said Wednesday that the initiative is an idea Benjamin has talked about publicly, but did not have any more details on the plan. Benjamin, who takes over as Metro Board chairman Jan. 28, could not be reached for comment.

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