HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are about 4,000 on-street parking meters stretched across Oahu. Customers’ money goes in, but the City isn’t seeing a complete return in revenue.

According to the Department of Transportation Services, the current parking meter program is seeing a $4.75 million annual net loss. DTS said, those funds are subsidized by real property taxes.

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The department added that the program generates about $5 million and costs about $10 million to operate, but this varies each year.

“We want to, at some point, help make it so the taxpayers are not being the ones responsible to foot the bill,” said Val Okimoto, Honolulu City Councilmember.

According to DTS, there are multiple reasons for the multi-million dollar shortfall. KHON2 is getting answers on what the City is doing to improve the system.

“Maintaining an aging system like that isn’t an efficient way to do business,” said Chris Clark, Department of Transportation Services Chief Planner.

DTS said, one issue is coin-only meters and there are about 2,000 of them.

“So, coins are very expensive to collect. Staff have to go out and collect at each meter and count them and post that type of revenue,” said Clark.

Another issue is outdated parking rates that DTS said have not been increased in several years along with lack of parking enforcement.

According to DTS, data shows that near Ala Moana Center and Keeaumoku there are many people parking but only a few are actually paying.

Now, a $4 million project is underway to upgrade all meters to help fix that.

“With the new meters, they’ll have sensors that are looking 24/7, 365. Both us and the customers will be able to see in real time what spaces are occupied versus who’s actually paying. So, that’s something that can help with targeted enforcement,” Clark said.

Digging deeper, KHON2 found that despite the costly operations of collecting coins, DTS is required to continue to accept them due to a City ordinance. However, the department wants to go coin-less in the future.

“I don’t carry much coins in my car; so, the convenience on my end is credit cards or debit cards,” said Aaron Chun, Makakilo resident.

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“We want to make sure to be sensitive to the cost that’s all being paid for by the citizens and so if we can do it in a more efficient way we want to make sure we can do that,” said Clark.

DTS is expecting the upgrades to all parking meters to be completed by the end of 2023.