Scranton Parking and Enforcement in the 21st Century

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SCRANTON -- You can use your credit card for just about anything these days, so why not parking?

Some parking meters in Scranton are now accepting credit cards and parking enforcement is entering the 21st century as well.

Thomas Gansel planned ahead, and before he drove from the Poconos to Scranton he scrounged enough quarters for two hours at a meter on Courthouse Square.

Then discovered he didn't have to dig for change after all.

"I think it's more convenient, more convenient for people who may not be able to scrounge up quarters for the meters and they can just use their debit card or credit card," said Gansel.

This week, Scranton parking officials started phasing in a new kind of meter. They still take coins and tokens as always, but you can now swipe a credit or debit card to pay for your parking time.

In all, more than 700 city meters will be switched over. Piles of the new solar-powered meter heads are still waiting at the parking enforcement office on Penn Avenue downtown. The rest will be put in over the next few days.

"It'll be a little bit more than half of all the meters in the city that will have the credit and debit card feature. We're going to start with the most concentrated areas, the busiest areas that get the most traffic," said Scranton city treasurer Christopher Boland.

It's not just changes to the meters that you'll see. The city's new parking company, Republic Parking, will also be using technology to make sure parkers stay within the two-hour limit.

They will use cameras mounted on a car that can recognize your license plate. It's called a "license recognition vehicle". Parking enforcement officers will make rounds with it, and if your car is spotted parked for too long you could get a ticket.

That came as good news to new business owner Maria Sacco, who said cars are often idled for too long outside her clothing store Modish on North Washington Avenue.

"In front of my store there's only one spot open and maybe two at the most. A lot of my customers end up having to park all the way up and walk, and I feel bad," Sacco said.

Parking enforcement officers will start using the "license recognition vehicle" next month. Drivers can swipe their credit or debit cards at new meters now, as long as you can find a spot.