- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Arlington began a three-month test yesterday of six “Pay and Display” machines that might eliminate parking meters in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, maybe eventually throughout the city.

Each machine serves several parking spaces and accepts quarters, dollar coins and credit cards. They dispense receipts that motorists place on their dashboards.

Officers check the receipts periodically to ensure that the paid parking time has not elapsed and write a ticket when it has.

“That will be just like now with parking meters,” said parking manager Sarah Stott. “This is just a test to see how the machines work.”

Each machine has written instructions nearby and vocal instructions in English, Spanish, French and German.

“Meter greeters” will be on duty near the machines this week to explain how they work and to answer motorists’ questions. The “greeters” will reappear the week before Feb. 15, when the test ends, to collect motorists’ opinions about the Pay and Display machines.

Arlington County officials then will decide whether the machines will be retained and the old parking meters removed. They also might decide whether Pay and Displays replace any others of the city’s 3,900 meters.

The six Pay and Display machines serve 50 parking spaces on both sides of the 2800 block of Clarendon Boulevard, on the south side of the 2700 block of Wilson Boulevard, and both sides of the 1600 block of Veitch Street.

Several motorists already are familiar with the machines, which are in service in many European cities and some places in the U.S., including Georgetown in the District. Portland, Ore., replaced all of its parking meters, and Seattle officials reported an income increase of 40 percent from the Pay and Displays over traditional meters.

Pay and Display-savvy motorists in Arlington did not ask for instructions, and several used credit cards. Ms. Stott said credit cards are useful when motorists do not have enough coins, and allow just the right amount of parking time.

Credit cards also have the advantage for early parking. Ms. Stott explained that a motorist can insert a credit card at 6 a.m. to pay for restricted parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The machines are operated with solar-powered batteries.

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