The much-maligned era of multispace parking meters in Brookline’s business districts is coming to an end, as the town began covering some of the devices with garbage bags and taking them out of service this week, a year after they were installed.
Crews are shrouding 16 multispace meters in parts of Coolidge Corner, Washington Square, and JFK Crossing and replacing them with 105 single-space meters that accept coins and credit cards.
Town Administrator Melvin Kleckner said all but five of the new single-space meters were activated by the end of the day Wednesday. The work is part of a plan to eventually replace multispace meters throughout the town.
But Kleckner said Brookline will hold a trial run for the new single-space meters for the next three to six months to ensure that they do not generate the volume of complaints caused when the town installed the multispace meters.
“We don’t want to make the same mistake twice,” Kleckner said Wednesday.
Brookline installed about 90 multispace parking meters in 2011 to replace about 900 single-space meters. Town Meeting approved more than $1 million in 2010 to install the multispace meters.
But as soon as the multispace meters were installed, residents began complaining that the meters were confusing, slow, and particularly burdensome for older drivers, who must walk from their parked car to the multispace meter, print a parking receipt, and return to the vehicle to put the slip in the window, even in inclement weather.
The town responded by trying to streamline the transaction process, shaving off some of the time it takes to pay at the meter.
But in April, Kleckner said, complaints continued, and he proposed a plan that could replace almost all of the multispace meters along Brookline streets but leave the multispace meters in town parking lots.
The first part of the plan is to test the new single-space parking meters being provided for free during the trial period by San Diego-based IPS Group Inc. Unlike the town’s old single-space meters, the new devices accept credit cards.
At Kleckner’s suggestion, the town also included $100,000 in its budget this year to replace additional multispace meters if the trial program works. Some of the multispace meters that will be taken out of service will be sold to pay for the new single-space meters, while some of the multispace meters will be kept for the town parking lots.
Brookline will also change the way motorists use the multispace meters in parking lots. Instead of paying at the meter and then placing a parking slip on their dashboard, motorists will pay for the numbered space that they park in and will not have to return to their vehicle.
The town will also continue to use multispace meters along the median strip of Beacon Street near the St. Mary’s MBTA stop, where they enable the town to adjust the parking fees to $22 for Red Sox fans attending games at Fenway Park.
All multispace meters not affected by the trial will remain in operation for the time being, Kleckner said. The multispace meters replaced in the trial run will be removed and stored in the next two weeks, he said.