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Discrepancies in digital vs. manual parking meters in Jacksonville

7:09 PM, Jun 27, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Are you getting all that you pay for when you put money in downtown meters?

One First Coast News viewer says 'no way!'
David Williams of the On Your Side team decided to put some of them to the test.

If you drive into Downtown Jacksonville, your journey usually starts at a parking meter.

There are 1,655 meters downtown. We found Audrey Best using one near Ocean Street.

"We get 30 minutes for 25 cents."

She comes downtown once or twice a month. This time for 30 minutes. The last time, an hour. I asked her if she gets what she pays for.

"I think you're supposed to, but I haven't really checked to see. I'm usually in a hurry when I come down here," Best said.
First Coast News checked meters on Adams Street, checking older meters to see if you get the time you pay for.

To be fair, most of the meters were correct. But some aren't. Jim Anesca can attest. We found him at an older meter near Duval Street.

Reporter: "How many quarters did you put in?"

Jim: "I put two quarters in."

Reporter: How much time did you think you were going to get?

Jim: "I was assuming it'd be the same, like the digital ones. Over an hour."

Reporter: "How much time did you end up getting?"

Jim: "Thirty minutes."  

"It's a bad economy right now so anything would help."

First Coast News sought help and answers from Jack Shad, the city's top parking officer.

"The city is aware of that. It's been that way for 20-30 years."

Wait ... what?!

"My understanding is that it's more based on the way the meter is geared," Shad said. "There's no other way to design a mechanical parking meter."

Best said, "That kind of makes you feel like you've been ripped off."

First for you, if you're at a meter can you get your money back?

"They cannot get any time back," Shad said. 

Shad said the old hand-crank meters work sort of like a combination vending machine and watch. A quarter goes in, turn the crank and winds the mechanism that counts down the time until it expires. The old meters are east of Main Street and west of Broad Street.

"Each turn of the crank only takes you to the next line."

515 city meters are the new credit-card accepting solar powered meters that cost about $700 bucks per meter. Installation in the urban core from Main to Broad began 3 years ago. The project was mostly paid for via a federal grant.

The city has asked for about $35,000 to replace another 50 meters next year. To replace the remaining 1,000 meters would cost roughly $700,000. The budgeting process is starting.

"That would be more beneficial, then," Anesca said.

First Coast News

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