City of Jackson Planning and Development Director Jordan Hillman and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba unveil meters on Lamar Street in Downtown Jackson.

Parking in downtown Jackson was free.

Or so it seemed.

In recent years, many meters were jammed or not operational, costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

That begins to change this week as 146 “smart” parking meters have been installed in a pilot program from the city Planning and Development Department.

Use a credit or debit card or the ParkMobile app to pay for an find available parking.

“Smart” because, instead of depending on the availability of your car’s coin stash (who carries money anymore?), the meters take a debit or credit card or, payment via the Parkmobile app (coming soon).

With sensors on board, too, the meters alert attendants when they’ve been tampered with or when they are overdue.

Translation: no more all-day parking. Or, you can, at a premium.

Original, “non-smart” meters will remain at 50 cents per hour. The smart meters in this phase will be on a “2 Hour Escalation” rate. That is, the first 2 hours are $1 per hour, the third hour is $2 and the fourth hour on is $4 per hour.

This fee schedule allows users to stay longer than two hours but encourages turnover by raising the price once two hours is exceeded. After all, long term parking is what garages are meant for (and yes, you will be able to find available temporary spaces and garage spaces via the app and add more time to your meter via your phone).

Enforcement officers are training and receiving technology and will begin full enforcement in October. That’s when the app goes fully online, too.

The city said, in addition to creating a revenue stream, the meter installation is part of a citywide, multi-modal transportation initiative (including new buses) that is rolling out over the next five years.

Streets with new meters are:

  • West Capitol Street 
  • Amite Street
  • Lamar Street 
  • Pearl Street 
  • President Street