Here's what should happen after you park your car near one of the new "pay-and-display" parking meters in downtown Hartford:
Pay. And display.
Problem is, that second step apparently is a doozy. Instead of heeding the instructions — feeding the meter and displaying the receipts on the dashboards of their cars — some motorists are taking the receipts with them and earning parking tickets as a result.
To correct the issue, the Hartford Parking Authority will print and install a pictogram — a fancy word for a sign displaying a car and a big red arrow that points to a receipt on the dash — on each of its meters. The following message will be included: "Display the receipt face up on the vehicle's curbside dashboard."
In other words, pay. And display.
The city paid $3.3 million to replace most of the 1,600 coin-fed meters downtown with 250 solar-powered, $13,000-a-unit kiosks. Each unit takes the place of seven or eight of their predecessors. All of the new units are in place, and 170 are operational, said Carey Redd, the authority's associate director, and his boss, James Kopencey. Both say there has been positive feedback on the kiosks — people like being able to pay with plastic, and the ability to use up the time remaining on their receipts at other downtown locations.
As for those who don't display after they pay, they can have their tickets erased if they can prove that they had paid for parking, Kopencey said.
Last week, Fred Shamo put his money into a meter behind city hall, took his receipt, and put it on his dashboard like he's supposed to. It was his second or third time using the meters. The first time?
"I was just guessing," Shamo said. "I was checking the other cars."
Bob from Windsor, who would not give his last name, had parked his car on the way to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art last week when he asked, receipt in hand, "What do you with these things?"Moments later, city Treasurer Kathleen Palm Devine arrived at city hall for a meeting and said she knew what to do.
"It's human nature to resist change or to take awhile to adapt to change," she said. "But I'm sure people will get the hang of it."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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