City accepts credit card payment at new meters

<p>Solar powered parking meters installed between Elm Row and
Bayard Street in New Brunswick now accept credit card payments.</p>

Solar powered parking meters installed between Elm Row and Bayard Street in New Brunswick now accept credit card payments.

The New Brunswick Parking Authority is in its first stage of testing solar-powered credit card machines on parking meters that line downtown streets to determine their reliability in terms of function and accuracy.

Robert Garcia, Director of Operations for the New Brunswick Parking Authority, said the city wants to determine if the machines — 56 of which are fixed on top of meters on Bayard Street and Elm Row — would convenience the Parking Authority and residents during the 90-day free trial.

Already popular in California and similar to paid parking in New York City, the technology may reduce coin usage by about 70 percent, Garcia said.

“It’s going to offer more options,” he said. “People won’t have to carry a pocketful of change anymore.”

The parking meters will undergo a testing phase that will last until mid-February and will change the already existing multi-meter space, Garcia said.

“Multi-meter spaces have been in use for over a decade,” he said. “If you go to one of our paid lots right now, there’s something called a muni-meter where you enter your space number and pay that way. The new meters just bring that to single parking spaces.”

The units, which will reduce the time spent manually collecting coins, cost about $350 each and will be paid for by the company that produces them, Garcia said.

New Brunswick is one of many cities across the country experimenting with the credit card parking meters, which offer slight variations to already existing parking systems, Garcia said.

Nomora Pearyer, a graduate student from the School of Social Work, said she knew of similar credit card and multi-meter devices being used in other cities.

“They have that in Newark,” Pearyer said. “There’s one stand for four meters, and you can swipe and enter your spot number.”

But some students were concerned about the security of their credit card information when using the credit card parking system.

People may find ways to exploit the system, said Kia Alexander, a graduate student in the School of Social Work.

“They have scams now,” she said. “People hack into the machines and I think it would make it more available for people to do that.”

Garcia said the parking meters would not store or disclose credit card information. The units, which would reject debit cards without sufficient funds to prevent overdraft, will only authorize the credit or debit cards.

John Begen, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year student, said the credit card system would be convenient and save time that would be spent searching for coins.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Begen said. “Who carries coins on them? I always have my credit card.”

Kristen Mucci, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said she would remain cautious until the system entered the mainstream.

“I’m not sure about using my credit card because I haven’t really heard of [the system] yet,” Mucci said. “If it became something that was standard, I would feel more comfortable.”

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