Election Section

New parking meters unveiled in SF

New parking meters unveiled in SF
Friday September 27, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco city officials gathered outside City Hall Thursday to unveil a brand new electronic parking meter system that is expected to add millions to city coffers. 

The device looks more like an early model video game than the parking meter of the future, but officials say the new meters will more efficiently track time and collect money. 

Supervisor Tom Ammiano was joined by Fred Hamdun, director of the city's parking and traffic department, and Paul Carpmael, a project director from Serco Management Services, the company responsible for installing the new system, to witness the unveiling of the new system Thursday. It is expected to increase revenues to the city by an additional $5.9 million. 

"Currently an estimated $3 million is lost each year due to theft,'' Ammiano said. "The current system is outdated and unreliable. It wasn't feasible to invest money in old technology.'' 

According to Hamdun, San Francisco will replace its entire stock of 23,000 meters, many of which have been vandalized. The new machines will take multiple coin denominations and accurately track time using electronic quartz timers. 

Under the current system, 1,700 mechanical meters are either broken or missing, frustrating motorists and law enforcement officers alike.  

The housing of the new meters is shaped to resist blows from heavy objects and is enclosed by a heavily protected coating. 

The city is not only installing a new metering system, Ammiano noted, but rather an entirely new management system. The elements of this system include meter installation, coin counting and collection services, maintenance and an advanced software system that audits itself. 

"The City of San Francisco is thrilled, not only because Serco is providing a new and improved system, but also because the company is committed to helping (the department) transition to the new system and will train ... staff on how to properly use equipment,'' Ammiano said. 

For the first time in 55 years, meter replacement began in the Tenderloin, Financial District and Excelsior districts in August and is scheduled for completion in March 2003.