No more digging in the glove box for spare change to feed the parking meters in downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City.
As of Friday, nearly 900 parking meters will be credit-card friendly, accepting Visa and Master Card.
"We are trying to give customers a more convenient way to pay for parking downtown," said Greg Warnke, Colorado Springs parking administrator.
Crews began installing the new smart meters Tuesday and by week's end, there should be 820 meters downton accepting plastic on the streets from Vermijo to Boulder and Cascade to Nevada avenues. Sixty credit card meters also will line West Colorado Avenue in Old Colorado City.
And for those who attend long City Council meetings, running out to plug the meter no longer will be necessary. Credit card-accepting meters will be outside of City Hall on Nevada Avenue. There also will be credit card meters on Pikes Peak Avenue in front of Pikes Peak Community College.
"We were constantly getting comments, 'Denver has them, why don't we?'" Warnke said. "We thought it was time to step up to the plate and offer this to customers."
The city's Parking System Enterprise is a city-run program that pays for the costs of operations from user fees and does not receive money from the city's general operating fund. The parking enterprise has a projected 2014 budget of $4.6 million with about $2.2 million anticipated from parking meters.
In 2007, the city added the "Easy Park Card" reading meters, which allow frequent downtown visitors to use a pre-paid card to feed the meters. And in 2012, the city extended the downtown meters' maximum time to two hours at nearly all of meters in hopes of drawing more shoppers, diners and visitors. Now that the downtown meters accept plastic, visitors may like to stay longer, Warnke said.
The credit card reading meters cost $515,000, and the city will be charged 15 cents per transaction for credit card fees. For that reason, the city added one hour of paying time to the credit card meters. Charge times now will start an hour earlier - from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The price is the same: $1 per hour downtown and 75 cents per hour in Old Colorado City.
For those with spare change, the new meters still will accept coins. The rest of the city's 1,600 meters will continue to accept the Easy Park Cards and coins, and visitors will be charged from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
"We are going to collect data for the next six to eight months from these meters and in 2015, we may request funds from our fund balance to purchase additional (credit card) meters," Warnke said.