PPA adopts a pay-by-plate system for its new solar-powered parking kiosks

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — If you haven't already, you may want to start memorizing your license plate number.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority will ditch dashboard receipts and roll out its next generation of full-color, touch-screen parking meter kiosks next week, featuring a more advanced pay-by-plate system.

Starting Oct. 15, the new solar-powered kiosks will be installed throughout the city, replacing the current kiosks that have served PPA for about 10 years. Outdated coin meters will be phased out for good, too.

"Your license plate is the basis of the new system and the transaction," explained PPA Executive Director Scott Petri. "Customers will now enter their license plate, make payment with coin or credit card or debit card, and go about their business. Our enforcement officers will be able to verify payment by checking their license plate number through hand-held devices."

The kiosks also come with a convenient new feature. For instance, if you parked your car, walked a few blocks away, but have to feed the meter again shortly thereafter, you don't have to return to your car to do so. You can find the nearest kiosk and add time from there.

You can also pay remotely on the meterUP app, at kiosks that have a meterUP decal.

PPA plans to first install 60 pay-by-plate kiosks in Center City, which will go through a 30-day testing period before they expand citywide. Overall, the process is expected to take about eight months to complete. 

William Johannsen, project manager for the company that makes the kiosks, said the new system is a lot more user-friendly than what drivers are accustomed to. 

"The patrons can go to any pay station in the city and either pay for their initial parking session or up their time from any kiosk in the city," he said. "It's not going to be where you have to pay at a specific pay station."

In addition to replacing more than 1,100 multi-space kiosks, PPA is replacing all 8,400 single-space meters in the city. 

The kiosks have a rather short shelf life due to day-to-day wear and tear. Most of them last about five years, but Petri said their technicians were able to squeeze 10 years out of the current ones.

The company that manufactures the new machines notes they should have a life span of seven to 10 years.