Park Roanoke works to address confusion with metered parking pilot program

With a 90-day pilot program halfway over, Park Roanoke addresses confusion

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - A pilot parking meter program in downtown Roanoke is reaching the midway point of the 90-day trial phase. Park Roanoke is working to address some confusion with downtown visitors.

The first hour is free for the metered spots along Franklin Road and in the Market Square area. Although the spots are free, drivers still need to use the meter to register their vehicle and log their parking time.

The spots are no longer monitored by chalking the tires, instead parking enforcement officers check license plates. The plate numbers are registered in the meter system when someone parks. Officers use that registration and the time purchased for the spot to check how long cars have been parked.

Wyatt Poats, Park Roanoke's general manager, says it's important to register your vehicle in the metered spots whether you're using just a few minutes or the entire hour of free parking. Signing up with the meter will help you avoid getting a parking ticket you don't deserve.

"if someone does not register, we don't have an idea of how long that person is parked," says Poats. "We don't want to issue a citation. We need to have someone register, so we know that they're within their time restrictions."

With between 1,200 and 1,300 people using the 65 metered spots included in the pilot program each week, there has been a learning curve for new users. That's why Park Roanoke employees have spent a lot of time downtown, interacting with people who are parking in those areas and explaining how the meters work. There have also been more signs added over the past few weeks, explaining how the meters work.

Overall, Poats says the pilot program is doing what it's intended to do, creating turnover in some of the most popular downtown parking spots.

"On a weekly basis, it's 1,200 to 1,300 people in about 65 spots total," he says. "We're getting that turnover and it's really good. People are coming downtown that maybe haven't come downtown in the past and they're getting in and out of the businesses."

Poats says about 75 percent of the people who register with the meters are taking advantage of the first free hour.

Park Roanoke has issued detailed instructions on how to park:
-Press the "Start" button on the meter
-Enter license plate button and press green print button on the keyboard to continue
-The screen will load parking options
-Enter amount of parking time needed and payment. The screen will display "Free Parking Time: 60 minutes." If only one hour of parking is needed, press the green button to print the free time receipt.

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