The Reading Parking Authority will be investing about $855,000 to modernize the eight parking garages and one surface lot it operates.
Thomas MacDougal, executive director of the parking authority, said the current mechanical equipment is very out-of-date and needs to be replaced.
“The system we have here now is so antiquated when we need to make repairs the only parts we can get are refurbished because they’re so old,” MacDougal said.
Also, he noted, that the software is so old that it wouldn’t be supported after 2020 and the authority couldn’t accept credit card payments without an upgrade.
The authority is working to contract with HUB Parking Technology, which MacDougal said is the firm that is used in Allentown and Bethlehem.
The new payment stations will continue to accept both credit card and cash and will provide help button answers in both English and Spanish.
The new technology will also add features like the ability to use a smartphone to pay for contract parking, as well as operate the gates to get in and out of a lot.
He said it will also improve conditions surrounding event parking.
“For event parking you can prepay with a credit card and pick the garage you want to use,” MacDougal said.
He said that should reduce the traffic congestion that usually accompanies such events. It will also mean drivers and parking authority workers will need to carry less cash.
From the authorities perspective he said it will allow staff to track lot and deck occupancy in real time. It will also give the authority remote control to lower parking rates as it wishes.
He gave the example of lowering overnight parking rates on a parking deck when there is an impending snow storm so residents can park their cars out of the bad weather.
While the contract and financing of the project is still being worked out, MacDougal said he expects work to begin in February and run through the end of June.
The work will start with the authority’s busiest deck, The Reeding Court Garage, which services the Berks County Courthouse.