No, you’re not dreaming and it’s not a hoax. It’s free to park in Brookline today. Kind of. Printed signs announcing the free parking day are periodically adorning meters across town. As if the promise of free parking wasn’t bonus enough, there’s even better news behind it.
Parking in Brookline, under the best of circumstances, can be challenging. Really challenging. Ask anyone about using the smart parking meters that were installed in April of this year, however, and you’re likely to hear feedback ranging from ‘frustrating’, ‘confusing’ and ‘incovenient’ to significantly more colorful terms. Fortunately, problems plaguing the smart meters have not gone unnoticed and solutions appear to be in the works.
In response to concerns raised over the meter’s usability and function, Town Administrator Mel Kleckner formed a Task Force to address the problem head on. To represent concerns from all areas of the community, the Task Force is comprised of Town Officials, members of the business community and Brookline residents.
After meeting twice over the summer and scheduled to meet again Monday the 26th, the Task Force began crafting solutions to multiple issues plaguing the smart meters. According to Mr. Kleckner, “We’ve adopted a systematic approach to determine the issues and identify potential solutions.”
Stage one of the Task Force’s Plan is to be implemented this week. Three fixes are slated to be rolled out. First, to address complaints of meter usage being overly time-consuming, meter software has been reprogrammed to increase response time and reduce the overall transaction time. (Hence the free parking signs.) While the new software is implemented, meters are temporarily taken down and free parking is allowed. (Please note, parking is only free when and where posted.) Those finding the meter instructions vague or confusing will be pleased to hear the second improvement scheduled is an update of language shown on the displays. The corrections are intended to make meter usage more intuitive. Finally, the meters will now offer preset time increment options. It is hoped this will allow meter users to select time more quickly and reduce overall confusion about using the meters.
While these three improvements are a step in the right direction, resolution for additional issues planned. In regards to the Task Force’s plans moving forward, Mr. Kleckner commented, “Our job has just begun and we are not finished making improvements. Our plan is to continue working at this until we have a meter system that works for the Brookline community.”
To keep the town informed of steps taken by the Task Force, information will be available on the Brookline town web site.
Catie Hayes, Editor