PORTLAND – Sometime next summer, expect to see city workers removing dozens of parking meters downtown.

But don’t expect to save money on parking; the city will replace some of its old-fashioned meters with a system that will let drivers pay for parking with credit or debit cards, in addition to coins.

The City Council last week approved spending $200,000 for a test of the “pay and display” system in downtown Portland. About 100 meters will be yanked and “pay stations” will be installed, allowing drivers to pay for set amounts of time and get printed receipts that indicate the time their legal parking will expire.

Left on dashboards, the receipts will tell parking officers how much time drivers have paid for and whether they have overstayed their welcome.

Dozens of cities, including New York, Boston, and Portsmouth and Manchester, N.H., have adopted pay-and-display systems in recent years. The systems eliminate the need for drivers to dash into nearby stores for change to feed meters, and generally increase compliance with parking laws, according to cities that use the new systems.

Portsmouth, for instance, starting installing the system three years ago and now has 44 pay stations, building toward a full complement of 60, said Jon Frederick, the city’s director of parking and transportation. He said each pay station replaces, on average, 10 metered spots.

“The theory is, given the opportunity to pay, one will pay, and we’re finding an increase in revenue based on that alone,” Frederick said.

He said the added income, savings on emptying meters of coins, improvements in maintenance and more efficient record-keeping all justify the cost of about $7,800 per pay station — about 15 times the cost of the older, low-tech meters.

Portsmouth’s revenue from parking tickets is down about 10 percent, Frederick said, but “you don’t want to be making revenue from making people angry.”

Portland doesn’t know yet how much its meters will cost, because the project has to be put out for bids. John Peverada, the city’s parking manager, said he understands that the devices cost about $7,000 to $14,000, depending on the manufacturer and the bells and whistles.

A cell phone-based device in the machines allows the pay stations to transact the credit or debit card charges. The machines can also alert parking officials if they’re malfunctioning and send out a notice when the coin box is getting full.

Peverada said the pay stations will be installed in the Old Port and elsewhere downtown. The plan is for them to be installed in the middle of every 10 spaces, so a driver won’t have to walk too far to get a receipt and then put it in the car.

The cost, Peverada said, will be the same as for the current meters: five cents for every three minutes.

The switch could even create more parking downtown, he said. Other cities have found that without meters to delineate the spaces, a few more cars can squeeze into the available space. That not only means more spaces, but additional revenue for the city, Peverada said.

George Levy, president of Cale Parking Systems USA, said his company has 100 accounts and 9,000 pay stations installed around the country.

Its machines are made by Cale Access, a Swedish company that has 90,000 meters in 35 countries, he said.

“They are more common in Europe, and it’s coming on like gangbusters” in the U.S., Levy said.

Joe Redman, the owner Joseph’s clothing store on Fore Street, said the new system will let him and his workers spend more time helping customers.

“We give out a lot of change” to people who need to feed meters, he said. “Our office manager will like it better — he won’t have to replenish the change quite as much.”

Drivers said machines that are higher-tech and eliminate the need for cash are a sign of the times.

“It’s the way the world is going,” said Paul Lorello of Gray as he parked on Federal Street on Wednesday afternoon.

Bogna Kepczynski said she expects to get fewer parking tickets if she can just pull out a charge card to pay for parking. “It’s happened to me when I haven’t had change,” she said.

Anna Halligan of Portland said the new system sounds intriguing, but she copes just fine with the low-tech meters.

“I have coins underneath my seat, just in case,” she said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]