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Free parking? Honolulu's digital meters disabled after Verizon 3G shutdown

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D-Vu from Pixabay
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SmartMeters, like these in San Diego, were first installed in 2012 in Honolulu, with a pilot program of 110 card and coin accepting readers.

About 1,300 digital parking meters in Honolulu have stopped working properly following Verizon's shutdown of their 3G coverage this week.

The city announced Friday that spots requiring credit cards to pay for parking will not be cited until the Department of Transportation replaces the meters.

However, mechanical parking meters, or those that only accept coins, will still require payment to not receive a citation.

About 400 meters across the city are already updated with the working 4G technology, said J. Roger Morton, director of the city's Department of Transportation Services in a press conference on Friday. He said that it is up to the public to decipher which meters work or not when parking.

Morton said several other cities across the U.S. are going through the same issue, and while Honolulu is ready to go out to bid to replace the 3G meters, his biggest concern is supply chain issues.

He said the upgrade is "fairly easy if you have all the parts," but due to the predicted high demand, the state is looking at a six-month time frame.

There are currently about 2,200 digital meters and 2,200 mechanical meters. Each type collects about $2 million, according to Morton.

If any motorist feels that they are unfairly cited for parking, Capt. Stason Tanaka of the HPD’s Traffic Division said they can contest the citation in court.

"We will not be enforcing those meters that allow people to pay using credit cards," Tanaka said. "We will only be enforcing mechanical meters."

The Transportation Department said that they are ready to go out to bid for the new technology in this fiscal quarter, which ends March 31.

SmartMeters were first installed in 2012, with a pilot program of 110 card and coin-accepting readers.

Honolulu Police Department's parking enforcement and traffic division installs the meters, carries out meter maintenance and issues the parking citations.

Krista Rados is a Digital News Producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at krados@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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