About every two weeks I happen to see a meter coin collector at work. He goes by a restaurant where I eat breakfast every so often. We must be on approximately the same schedule.
This morning he was there right on time. He carried a radio, a hand held device, and was pushing a cart. I was fascinated. He had it down to a science. As he opened the coin vault and removed and emptied the coin canister with one hand, he put the hand held up to the meter with the other. The entire process took about four seconds or less. I was impressed.
I checked with Technical Sales Manager at POM Bobra Wilbanks and she filled me in on what he was doing. I know all you municipal folks understand all this, but for you non cityites, here’s the story:
The collector was pushing a coin collection cart. He used a key, usually one key for each route or part of a route (some cities use multiple keys), to open the coin vault and remove the canister. He placed the canister, it looks like a soup can, on the cart and the coins were dropped from the can into the cart. In the mean time, the hand help collected data from the meter including time, amount, number and type of coins, and meter ID. It then reset the meter for the next round. (She noted that the communications with the meter was infra red and that MacKay and Duncan project the IR through the display window while POM uses the coin slot.)
When he got back to the shop, he probably dropped the coin cart off in the counting room and the hand held in an auditing room. His coins were counted and tagged and then that data was compared with the information from the hand held. He never knew how much money he had in his cart. Bobra suggested that the more people involved in the counting and if they can be separated, the better. She also noted that in many cities, particularly in high crime areas, there are two collectors – one for security. She added said that since there was only one, I must eat in a pretty upscale area. Little does she know…