Royal Oak's new meter system will tell you what spaces are open, scan your plates

As Michigan's COVID-19 restrictions are lifted on Tuesday, places like downtown Royal Oak will soon be back to a more normal level of traffic. And in Royal Oak, they're rolling out a new parking system to make sure people are paying when they're downtown.

In Royal Oak, you have to pay to park in the metered spaces every day except for Sunday until midnight. Or, if it's a quick trip, you can park for 2 minutes for free. But not everyone is observing the time limit or feeding the meters, costing them a $10 ticket tucked into their windshield.

The cost is about to double with a new municipal parking system this fall. Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said the new system will make parking and paying easier.

"We really are excited about it. We think we're really utilizing technology to make parking as efficient and accessible as possible," he said.

The technology involves a license plate reader and, as long as you observe the time limit and pay before you leave your space, you won't get a ticket mailed to your home.

"You can pull up, you can pay right at the meter then and there, you can wait until you come back and pay at the meter then or the best feature is if you utilize through their app, you don't do anything and you're billed for the exact amount of minutes you are at that meter," O'Donohue said.

The app also tells you what street and surface spaces are open when you search for parking. The chief says if you're staying for a while, you should use the parking deck as the city wants to preserve street spaces for people making quick trips.

Once the system is in place, people will have to observe the time limits or be ticketed, which is why the city is pushing people to use the decks - which are free or two hours and just $0.75 after that.

The new system won't be in place until the fall and will only apply to street and surface parking. The chief says there will be a robust effort to educate people in the weeks before.

The city has also set up a survey to take opinions on the new system. Click here to check it out.