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Smart Meters: No Change-No Problem

February 13, 2013, 10:01 PM by Don Jorgensen

Smart Meters: No Change-No Problem

No change? No problem. Sioux Falls is now using what it calls "smart parking meters" in downtown. They allow a person to use their credit or debit card to plug the meter if they don't have any change. 

But you're going to pay a little more for that convenience.

Carole Brown is plugged a downtown smart meter with coins on Wednesday, but she sometimes uses her debit card too.

"I think they are terrific. I live downtown here and we enjoy having them," Brown said.

The city has 185 of these smart meters downtown.  Brown likes the option to pay with either coins or plastic.

"We use them and our house guests, we have a lot of family and friends in town a lot, so we do rely on them," Brown said.

But when you use a debit or credit card, the minimum charge is $1.00, which gives you an hour and 20 minutes. And that's perhaps more time than you actually needed if you were running a quick errand or two.

"The minimum fee helps us cover the transaction fee, we do pay a 13 cent transaction fee. So on a credit card the minimum is a dollar," public parking manager Matt Nelson said.

Nelson says giving customers an extra way to pay has reduced the number of parking tickets being written by 15 percent. And the feedback has been positive.

"We think it is the way to go with the future, people want to pay with debit cards and credit cards, makes it more convenient and easier for them to park in the downtown area," Nelson said.

The smart meters are actually kind of smart. If there's ever an issue with one of them or someone accidentally leaves their credit or debit card in one, it automatically sends an email to the public parking office notifying them something is wrong.

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