Downtown Royal Oak parking meters go solar

An experiment with a new kind of parking meter is in progress in downtown Royal Oak, where 30 solar-powered meters are up and running.

The meters not only come with technological bells and whistles that provide the city with up-to-the minute information about broken meters, how they are being used, etc, but also give visitors to downtown another way to pay.

In addition to accepting coins, the meters take credit cards, ideally making downtown parking more inviting and convenient.

Greg Rassel, Royal Oak’s director of recreation and public service, says the meters are “getting positive response so far.”

The meters are located on Washington Street between Sixth and Seventh streets and at the parking lot on Center Street between Fifth and Sixth. They were installed in mid-December, and in late February or early March the data generated will be evaluated by city officials who will determine if the meters stay, go, or grow to more places in the city.

Ann Arbor started installing solar parking meters about a year and half ago. More than half it’s downtown has been converted to the new system.

Even in the thick of winter, the solar powered machines are working, pulling energy from batteries that store several days’ worth of power.

“So far we have about 10 percent of people using cards,” says Rassel. “During the evening hours that number goes up to 15 percent.” 

Source: Greg Rassel, director of recreation and public service, City of Royal Oak

Writer: Kim North Shine