STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JUNE 9, 2016 (State House News Service) – The all-seeing digital eye could replace parking meter readers in municipalities under legislation given initial approval in the House on Thursday.
The bill (H 4243), recommended last month by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, would allow cities and towns to use remote “self-enforcing parking” systems with the approval of the local governing body. The House advanced it on a voice vote with no debate.
The monitoring systems authorized under the legislation would use cameras and technology to determine whether parking violations occur. Law enforcement officials or their designees would review data from the systems to determine “whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that a parking violation has occurred,” according to the legislation.
Filed by former Rep. Robert Fennell – who left the House earlier this year to become deputy director of the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission – and Millbury Democrat Sen. Michael Moore, the bill needs an additional vote of approval in the House in order to reach the Senate.
Replacing the traditional bright orange parking tickets, notices of parking violations – sent through the postal service or internet – would need to go out within five days of the offense and cities and towns would be allowed to set their own fines and payment methods.
Writing in the trade magazine Parking Today, PayBySky and Skymeter inventor Bern Grush extolled the benefits of staff-free parking enforcement as an alternative to “meter maids.”
“This is tedious and expensive, and carries risks of verbal or physical abuse for the enforcement officers,” Grush wrote, heralding a new era where the “digital credential” replaces flags on parking meters or slips of paper left on cars’ dashboards.
Keeping recordings of the comings and goings of people could raise privacy concerns. The bill requires cities and town to maintain the confidentiality of “all information including, but not limited to, photographs or other recorded images and credit and account data collected through the use of a self-enforcing parking system.” Such information would not be a public record, according to the bill.
The state Department of Transportation has been moving toward digital in another motorist-payment systems, establishing fully automated tolls on the Tobin Bridge and outfitting the Massachusetts Turnpike for all-electronic tolling to go live later this year.