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D.C. Debuts Solar Powered Parking Meters

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New solar powered parking meters accept credit cards for payment.
Kavitha Cardoza
New solar powered parking meters accept credit cards for payment.

By Kavitha Cardoza

The district needs to replace its aging parking meters and it's looking at ones that are more convenient to use. In a pilot program, the city has installed 50 solar powered meters, which accept credit and debit cards as well as coins.

Whether it's scrambling for quarters to feed the meter or the interminable wait to report a broken meter, for drivers in D.C., parking can be a pain. But Gabe Klein, head of the District's Department of Transportation says that's where the new sleek, silver meter comes in.

It's not just the convenience of credit cards. It also has a larger display. And most important, says Klein, it's wirelessly networked.

"So not only can it instantly transmit an approval for a credit card but also we can centrally control it. We can see how many quarters are in them, we can see if they're broken, we can change the rates remotely," says Klein. "So it gives us more flexibility, day, night, weekends, special events that sort of thing."

But because each meter is solar powered, would it... maybe...possibly...stop working when it's cloudy or snowing?

"No!You might like it but we definitely wouldn't," says Klein.

Klein says there's enough light even on a cloudy day to charge the batteries. Cash or credit, you'll still have to pay.

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