The balances still remaining on all those Princeton Smart Cards add up to just under half a million dollars

Smart cards — they were left in drawers and glove boxes, forgotten in old wallets, or in some cases, tossed in the trash. Some owners are still holding on to them and using them to park in the Spring Street garage, while others are waiting for the end of April when they can get their balances transferred to the new municipal parking meter system.

Planet Princeton wanted to know just how much money is leftover on all of those Princeton smart cards out there. So last month, we filed a public records request using the state’s Open Public Records Act. A little over three weeks later, we were given a document containing the answer.

As of the end of 2018, $463,367.25 was the total outstanding balance for all Princeton smart cards combined. This figure includes the 10-percent bonus credits people were given on their cards. The municipality began issuing the cards in 2004.

Originally the town’s policy on the old smart cards was “use it or lose it”. The cards had to be used by the end of the year, or users would lose any money left on them. But after residents complained, officials extended the time the cards could be used in the Spring Street garage until April 30 of 2019. Many smart card users who don’t use the garage wanted their money back. A plan has been developed to allow for the transfer of any remaining balances to the new Princeton parking app after April 30, minus the 10 percent bonus, plus a fee.


  1. Wow…that would have been a windfall to the town! It will be interesting to see how much remains after the April 30th deadline for conversion. My guess – quite a bit!

  2. The right thing to do here (in case anyone on the council is interested in doing the right thing) would be to give the smartcard owners their money back because the council made that system obsolete. It shouldn’t be a windfall for the municipality
    ( another parking tax). I wonder if there are any emails discussing what would happen with the Smartcard balances and if keeping the balances was part of the overall plan ?

  3. The whole new system is appalling. Raising hourly rates to almost double and increasing times on the weeks to 9:00? Who do you think you’re helping? The merchants and restaurants? So many people are avoiding Princeton now just because of this. Who thought of this? Horrible!!!

  4. I hope there is follow-up reporting after the April 30th deadline to show how much is of this money is returned. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large percentage of this is from cards that were lost or forgotten about – or from people who moved and never needed their smart cards again.

  5. This new system was poorly implemented. Communication about the changes was abysmal. I avoid town whenever possible now. No more will I be using town for my pharmacy, takeout, Coffee, or lunch. My guess business will start to feel this soon. I wonder how long it will be before a lawsuit to refund the balance in cash not some app that most won’t use since it has a surcharge for every instance. I’ve got ~$60 in SC balance I want it back in cash!

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