UPDATE: New parking technology in downtown Chattanooga - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: New parking technology in downtown Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Stricter enforcement and more payment options, that's the recipe the newly appointed Chattanooga Parking Authority hopes will cure downtown parking problems.

A fleet of parking ambassadors has been training for months. They've written their fair share of warnings.

Tuesday, the operation went live.

When Helene Grzybowski moved her business downtown, she knew the prime real estate would come with one challenge.

"It is such an issue," Grzybowski says. "I don't want anyone to feel panicked that they're going to be late for work, because they can't find a parking space."

The Chattanooga Parking Authority is hoping to help, by rolling out $700,000 in parking technology upgrades.

"It will hopefully help generate more turnover in the spaces, which is what the business community is looking for," says Jim Bowen with Chattanooga Parking Authority.

Forty new multi-space pay stations went live Tuesday on the Riverfront and in city center districts.

Another 600 single meters are being installed in other parts of downtown.

"They're solar powered," Bowen says. "They take coins, credit cards and debit cards."

While the technology has changed, the basic rules have not.

"The same parking enforcement, the rates are the same, the days of the week are the same," says Bowen.

Parking is 75 cents an hour from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Meter parking will remain free on evenings and weekends. But when these meters are running, a new team of parking ambassadors will be watching.

Ten trained parking attendants will patrol six zones.

Drivers are on board.

"I feel like people don't really even have that much cash on them," David Leonard says. "I mean, I don't. I just always use my debit card."

"It's very convenient," Debbie Walling says. "I'm glad they're doing it."

"It will probably mean less parking tickets," says Starr Hoover.

Jim Bowen agrees.

He hopes the upgrade will take downtown parking to a higher gear, and serve as an example to other cities.

"We're kind of ahead of the curve as far as using new technology," says Bowen.

It's all good news to Helene Grzybowski and the Cupcake Kitchen, where parking just got a little sweeter.

"Local businesses won't be bothered by people trying to make change so they can park," says Grzybowski.

The meters also come with a pay-by-phone option.

If you pay with a credit card, there is a 75 cent minimum that covers one hour of parking.

The parking authority plans to offer smart cards later this year. They will allow drivers to load them ahead of time.

And in case you're wondering, a parking ticket still costs $11 dollars, increasing to $41 after ten days.

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