AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Years in the making, the end of most free parking in downtown Amarillo is in sight.
"Some of the main reasons it's triggered now is due to the MPEV (multi-purpose event venue) almost being complete. It's also been a part of plan for the parking garage," said Andrew Freeman, Director of Economic Development and Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Amarillo. "The city and city council made a large investment to build that parking garage and part of that package was to have on-street parking, have short-term parking and the long-term parking would be folks that could use the parking garage."
For those opting for paid street spaces instead of the garage, the city has a more modern vision for payment that doesn't include saving up your coins.
"The cost of installing physical meters could be millions of dollars for a downtown of our size," said Freeman. "There's also many cities moving away from that just for the convenience factor. There's less need for staff to change out the meters, collecting coins."
Instead of coin meters lining downtown streets, you would use an app on your smartphone. Using the Parkmobile app, you would search for what area you are parked in and enter the zone number which would be listed along the street. In the app, you would also store your license plate for parking enforcement and a credit card for payment.
High-traffic areas like near the MPEV would see higher rates per hour, while lower traffic areas would see lower rates. The city says there will be a number of 15-minute free parking spaces and they plan to add in handicap street parking, as well.
The Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council is looking at the potential impact on tourists and residents.
"Austin, Dallas, a lot of places have it. They may not be used to it here, but they're used to it in other places so I think for them it will be a quick adjustment," said Dan Quandt, Vice President of Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council. "Residents it may be a little more painful adjustment, although, if they've been here quite a while, we've had this back in '65 so it's happened before."
Quandt says the city is also prepared for challenges along the way.
"We know there will be some bumps along the way but it's alright," said Quandt. "You get some bumps when you're trying to improve things."
However, the city says the ultimate goals of paid parking now are revenue and reducing traffic congestion in the area.
City council is expected to make a decision once the Parkmobile contract and perimeters around the areas are finalized.
If everything is approved by the City Council, paid parking could be introduced in Amarillo as early as Jan. 1, 2019.