The City of Ithaca will install four automated Pay and Display parking machines later this month, which city officials hope will increase parking revenues. The new meters will be placed near the Commons in the surface lot under the Green Street parking garage and the Mayer’s Smokeshop lot.
Ithaca has been experimenting with Pay and Display machines for some time, according to City Controller Steven Thayer. He said he hopes these new machines will eventually replace conventional meters and boost revenues by 20 percent.
“Other cities we have talked to that have gone to credit card capabilities in their parking meters have seen a 30-percent increase in revenue from parking meters,” said Ray Benjamin, supervisor of streets and facilities.
Benjamin said that, with these machines, drivers will be able to pay for parking by cash or credit card, and the machines will print out a receipt that can be displayed on their windshield.
“We are going to try them out for a three-week period and we have the option to purchase them at the end of that time,” Benjamin said. He added, however, that there are no plans thus far to purchase additional machines until they see how well they function, especially with Ithaca weather.
Parkeon, Inc., who manufactured and provided the machines for free, made older Pay and Display models for the city that never functioned properly, Benjamin said.
Benjamin added that Parkeon came to the city with the free trial because the company heard Ithaca was unhappy with the old machines and wanted to “stay in [the city’s] good graces.”
Benjamin said that they are still working out some kinks with the machines.
“We are going through issues getting certified for credit cards and that seems to be having some snags and hold-ups,” Benjamin said.
The machines were meant to be operable in early March, but delays have forced the trial to begin in mid-March, Benjamin said. Nonetheless, he said he still feels confident that the new machines will perform better than the old ones.
“Syracuse has over 200 of them and they like them,” Benjamin said, explaining that Syracuse has similarly bad weather during the winter as Ithaca.
Thayer said if the city is happy with the machines after the trial period, the goal is to start phasing out the conventional meters and install Pay and Display machines throughout Ithaca.
Benjamin believes the capability to pay for parking time in one location and use any time left over at another location with the same rate is a positive aspect of the new machines.
One student, however, disagrees. Adam Silver ’13 said the new meters are unfair because the city can charge multiple times for the same hour in a single space.
“If someone pays for one hour and leaves after five minutes, other people can use the remaining 55 minutes with a conventional meter,” Silver said. “With these meters if that happens the next person must pay again.”