The municipality of Princeton will transfer smart card parking balances to the new Park Princeton app after April 30 of 2019, officials said Monday night.
Residents and visitors have complained about not bring able to use their smart cards with the new parking meters. Many people don’t want to use the municipal parking garage for short visits to downtown. Some people also have complained that the smart cards often don’t work in the garage like they are supposed to.
“We said we weren’t going to refund the balances, then we head feedback and we changed course,” Mayor Liz Lempert said. “I don’t think that word has gotten out. We are working on a plan to transfer the balances. We want a system that works that is fair to all people who bought smartcards and also is responsible to the town.”
If people still have balances on their cards after April 30, they will be allowed to transfer the amount to the Park Princeton mobile app, minus 10 percent plus an administrative fee, Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton said. Card holders will need to bring their cards to town hall for the balances to be read, and then the transfer minus the percentage and fees will be transferred.
“We are still encouraging people to spend down the balances in the Spring Street Garage by April 30,” Stockton said.
The new parking meter system has experienced numerous glitches. Some meters were not installed on time, and readers report that some new meters don’t work at times or are easily jammed if change is used to pay. Many people say the meters are also hard to read both during the day and at night. In addition to the large increase in parking rates, app users are charged a 35-cent fee each time they park and use the app. You can use a credit card to pay for time at the meter instead, but the minimum credit card charge is $1, even in a 15-minute parking spot.
Councilwoman Leticia Fraga asked Monday night if people are being charged a convenience fee again if they add money to the meter via the app. Officials said a second charge only occurs for a new parking session. Users are not charged an additional fee if they are adding time because they still have an allowance within a parking zone. If users elect to extend the time after the meter has expired, that would qualify as a new session and the convenience fee would be charged again. “People need to be careful to extend the time before it runs out,” Councilman David Cohen said.
Officials said data will be reviewed to measure how the new system is working out and whether revenue targets and other goals are being met.