PORTLAND – Work gets under way today to replace some downtown Portland coin-operated parking meters with solar-powered pay stations that accept credit cards as well as coins.

The 18 new pay stations accept coins, debit cards and credit cards and allow more vehicles to park along the street. Each station will serve about 10 spaces.

The city is installing the stations from Cale Parking Systems USA as a pilot program. The city may eventually replace all 1,525 of its coin-operated meters.

The city makes about $2 million a year from parking meters, and officials believe the new meters may increase revenues because they are more convenient.

The pay stations are being installed along portions of Commercial, Fore, Federal and Free streets and in the West End near Maine Medical Center.

They will be installed throughout the week and go live May 21.

After parking, motorists walk to the pay station and pay for the desired amount of parking. They must put the printed receipt, which notes the date, time and expiration time, face up on the vehicle dashboard. The receipts can be used at all metered spots in the city.

There is a one-hour minimum for credit cards.

The city is spending $175,000 for the machines, installation, accompanying signs and ongoing maintenance.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

[email protected]