Lafayette Police Chief Eric Christensen is advocating a further step down the road toward credit-card-capable parking meters.
In a staff report for the City Council (attached to this story as a PDF) to consider at its Monday meeting, Christensen proposes:
- converting meter heads in downtown (on Mount Diablo Boulevard between Dewing and Moraga) to those capable of accepting credit card payment.
- converting slot-box parking spots (designed to send parkers to a central station to pay for a numbered spot), to meter parking with a goal of using credit-card-capable meters; this means in particular long-term spaces near the BART station.
- replacing the pay-per-space system on Plaza Way with standard single-space meters.
In an experiment, the city last April installed 13 credit-card-worthy meters downtown. During the trial period on the 13 meters, only 22 percent of the transactions were by credit card, Christensen reported. The average transaction during the test was $1.21.
The administrative cost of the credit card meters exceeded old-fashioned coin meters. Because of bank fees and processing, the city realized 36 percent of the revenue from the credit card meters; the cost of collecting coins from old-fashioned meters averages less than 10 percent, the chief said.
"To be profitable, parking meter credit card transactions have to have a high fee, combined with a low number of transactions," Christensen reported. "A City with an hourly parking rate of $5.00 is going to see less of an impact of these fees than a City such as our with a $1.00 hourly rate."
The city has 206 metered spaces and 83 slot-box spaces. Annual revenue was $171,783 in fiscal year 2011-12, Christensen reported. In fiscal 2012-13, the City Council allocated $200,000 for meter replacement and improvements.
The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Community Hall at 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette.