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A bumpy start to new parking meter system implementation in Princeton (updated)

One of the new single-space meters in Princeton. You will be able to pay with change, a credit car, or an app.

Some area residents were perplexed as they searched the Apple App Store in vain Monday morning. They were looking for the new Princeton parking app on what had been billed as the first day of the new municipal meter system. But it turns out the app was only available for android phones via an app search Monday morning. The Apple version was not available yet from the iTunes store, but was available for iPhones via the website parkprinceton.ppprk.com. The Apple iTunes store version became available Monday evening.

New meters also have not been installed in many areas of town yet. Town officials could not figure out a system to remove old meters and replace them with new meters at the same time. Old parking meters were removed over the last few weeks and people were able to park in town for free, meaning a loss of revenue for the municipality. Drivers assumed the new meters would all be in place by today for the first day of the new system. People could be seen walking along Witherspoon Street and other side streets Monday morning  trying to figure out where to pay for their parking spots. Some tried to put money in new meters and a message informed them that the meters are not operational until Nov. 6.

Some pay stations also still needed decals Monday to indicate what zones the stations serve.

“Our new parking system is live beginning today. Please be patient with us as we work out the technical problems on the new pay stations and single space meters,” officials informed people on municipal social media channels at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. “The mobile app is only available for download on android phones. We will keep you posted on the iPhone app.  The zone numbers are on the single space meter decals and will be on the pay stations hopefully by the end of the day today. The install of the new meters will be completed by November 8. Again, we appreciate your patience as we work through the early problems we are having.”

Many municipalities in the area, including New Brunswick, Lambertville, New Hope and West Windsor, use the general ParkMobile app to manage their metered parking for people who want to pay by app. Princeton is using an company called Passport, and Princeton has its own branded app.

Officials debated using a dynamic pricing system for parking where people would pay more during peak hours or pay more the longer they stay in parking spots, but then decided on what one official called a “more vanilla system” because it would be easier to implement. 

Under the new meter system, parking rates have gone up to make up for the anticipated lost revenue from fines, as well as the capital costs of installing the new system. If you want to park at a two-hour meter for the full two hours, it will now cost you $4.50. Following are the new parking meter rates:

Single Space Meters

15-minute meters – 55 cents for 15 minutes

30-minute meters – $1.15 for 20 minutes

2-hour meters – $2.25 per hour

3-hour meters – $1.50 per hour

All-day meters – 75 cents per hour

Pay Stations

Zone 6093 – 75 cents per hour

Zone 6094 – $4 for 24 hours (1-7 days)

Smart cards can still be used at the Spring Street Garage until April 20 of 2019. 

Please share your thoughts on this story.

10 comments
  • The new parking meters are VERY frustrating. 2 hr meter with a minimum fee of $1.70. The old cards allowed for money back – it did not matter how long you parked. What this will do is keep patrons from coming down town and lessen the parking turn over. Many days I would swing through town and grab food or a coffee and park for 10 minutes. Not anymore. Minimum cash was $1.00. Net result will be less money coming into stores.

  • Yup…and Princeton taxpayers fund parking infrastructure & staff who ticket & govern. It would be nice if Princeton would gift a parking card, with some dollar amount on it annually, to every taxpaying head of household. That would offset some of the financial burden placed on locals’ wallets & honor true stakeholders. Just like the PPS/Cranbury SA, town leaders must not care that resident taxpayers pay more into the system for use by others.

  • what a great racket…..people get to pay to park on roads that were built 100 years ago, and if they are 1 minute over…bam…$42 ticket…the public sector knows how to make easy money.

  • excellent advice… but that custom crafted Princeton app will still be downloaded by folks before they snuggle into their monogrammed Tiger sheets tonight. Meters with a 15 minute limit anywhere in town are silly too. How cruel to make folks, who stop to help elderly neighbors or caught in lines & crowds so common, pay $42 penalties whenever a meter fails to provide sufficient time & grace for civilized life here. Meters limits below 30 minutes are unfriendly & their yellow caution caps don’t belong in our historic town.

  • Actually the town paid $36,000 to a company in North Carolina called Passport but the app is a separate Princeton app they created. So it is not Princeton officials upgrading the Princeton app. Oddly it was available on the website this a.m. but not the iTunes store. What we meant by their own app is it is a “Park Princeton” app just for Princeton. Other towns that use Park Mobile direct people to the Park Mobile app but don’t have their own separate app.

  • We’ve made every rookie new app install mistake possible. I’ve wondered if we obtained the app from the same vendor as we had in the parking garage which has been broken for years. Come to think of it will the new app work in the garage? Dennis is 100% correct. I may never load my credit info into one of these meters. With an initial rollout this drab, I can’t imagine how we’ll keep with the continuous IOS revisions. That’s not true, I can. We won’t.

  • I am not sure the town even has an IT department anymore. I think most are gone due to a theft accusation but nobody has followed up with any news.

  • Excellent comment. I was also unaware that Princeton decided to develop its own app. What a mistake. Presumably they didn’t want to give Park Mobile a cut of the revenue, but the questions you raise make abundantly clear why relying on an established 3rd party app make so much more sense.

  • Speaking as someone who has worked in technology for almost four decades, I am not surprised that the rollout of the new parking meters has hit some potholes. That’s not unheard of in the technology biz. But I was initially confused when I saw that an Apple app wasn’t yet available … confusion that melted away when I read this: “Princeton officials decided Princeton should have its own app instead.”

    What stable genius thought that it was a good idea to create a parking app just for Princeton? That is insanity! Who is maintaining this app? Who is responsible for testing whenever a new device or a new version of iOS or Android is released? And when a new mobile device or OS hits the streets, who is responsible if suddenly the app fails? And who is responsible for damages if the database for this silly app gets hacked?

    I have Park Mobile on my phone already, and it works great. I am not going to clutter my devices with rinky-dink parking apps for every town that has an ego problem and needs its own icon on my iPhone. I’m not going to put payment information into a single-town parking app. This is ridiculous.

    I am not going to download the new app, even when it becomes available. If I need to park in Princeton, I’ll keep change in the car. If I don’t have change, I’ll just take my business elsewhere. And my credit cards will stay a safe distance away from the meters until someone explains this “custom” parking application and its security safeguards in appropriate detail. I suggest others do the same.

    Sheesh.

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