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New Solar Powered Meters In D.C. Offer High-Tech Convenience

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New solar powered parking meters at U and 14th street.
Kavitha Cardoza
New solar powered parking meters at U and 14th street.

By Kavitha Cardoza

In addition to the regular parking meters and the "pay to park" machines, the district is installing some new solar powered meters that offer a new convenience and high-tech capability.

At the intersection of U and 14th streets in northwest D.C., Paul Sbardalla and three of his friends are hopping out of their car to grab some lunch. All are fumbling in their pockets for change to feed the meter. Sbardalla says he didn't realize the meters were new. Nor that they were solar powered. Nor that he really didn't need those quarters.

"They take Visa and Mastercard," says Sbardalla, something he says he wished he'd noticed.

Gabe Klein who heads the district's Department of Transportation says they're easier to maintain as well.

"It communicates in real time if there's a problem. Sort of like if you have a child and they're sick and they tell you they're sick. It's the same thing with the meter," says Klein. "It'll say I'm full with quarters, I'm not able to transmit data or I've got a mechanical problem."

And Klein says that soon, you may even be able to use your cell phone to text the parking fee straight to the meter.

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