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Downtown Dallas Meters May Soon Take Cards

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Fishing for pocket change at downtown parking meters may not be necessary soon.

Like Fort Worth, the city is eyeing the installation of a new generation of parking meters that take credit cards.

But soon drivers may also be able to feed the meters with smart phones.  It was on the agenda at the Public Safety Committee meeting Monday but didn’t get covered before time ran out.

Still, Addison driver Tom Hough likes the idea of paying by smart phone.

“It can be a bit of a struggle to find a parking meter downtown. I usually just go to the lot because it’s a lot easier to pay at the parking lot,” he said, but he likes the idea. “I think it would be a lot easier; you don’t have to worry about carrying cash on you, or coins, to put in the meter.”

His mother, visiting from Allentown, Penn., sees another benefit.

“Back home you have to go back and put in more quarters, you know,” said Emma Cummins. “And keeping an eye on your watch to get back there in time, so you don’t get a ticket.”

Other drivers agreed.

“I think it’d be a great idea,” said Amada Cole who now lives in downtown Dallas. “It’d be less complicated when it’s raining and you wouldn’t have to carry coins on you.”

Parking meters were created to make sure there was turnover in front of businesses, not allow a driver to feed the meter all day.

But Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano says that can be overcome.

“We’ll be checking on that as well, we’ll be those folks, but I think to me is that you’re using technology to update this,” she said.  “I think people want it. I think they use their phones for many different reasons and I think it’s about time the city of Dallas get up with their technology.”

The technology is designed to piggyback onto the existing credit card payment system and should not cost the city anything, the council was told.

But users will pay a 35-cent “transaction fee” each time they use it.

While Chuck Forrest of Garland likes the concept, he’s not sure about the cost.

“I don’t know, though, 35-cents? If you stop and do the math it might not end up being so convenient,” he said. “But it’s sure worth a try.”

The city will soon give him that option: the council is set to formally approve the idea next month.

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