August 22, 2018

Smart Cards to Be Phased Out as Part of New Parking Plan

By Anne Levin

Attention, holders of Smart Cards: using them to pay for parking at the Spring Street Garage and at meters around town will soon be obsolete. The municipality of Princeton is urging cardholders to use up their balances as the town prepares to transition to a new parking system.

While Princeton Council has yet to make final decisions on other components of the system, which is being designed to be more economical, technically sophisticated, and user-friendly, members agreed at their August 13 meeting that it was important to begin alerting the public to the pending Smart Card changes.

Currently, Smart Card refills are limited to $20. Sales of the cards are scheduled to end on September 4, and refills will only be available through October 1. The installation of new meters will begin in mid-October, and Smart Cards will not be compatible with them. Park Princeton, the new parking system, will launch with new payment options on November 5.

Municipal engineer Deanna Stockton told Council that ending the sale of Smart Cards soon is “fortuitous, because that’s about the time we will run out of the cards in our inventory,” she said.

“We should be more aggressive,” said Council President Jenny Crumiller. “Why don’t we just stop selling them now? We should tell people they must use up their balance, not just that it is suggested. I understand it’s going to be painful for people who have Smart Cards, but better to do it now.”

Princeton has been studying upgrades to its parking system for a few years. The new system, called Park Princeton, will include several payment options,
including mobile, credit, and coins, at new single-space meters and multi-space pay stations. “The new parking system will result in easier payment and better management of parking capacity in Princeton’s central business district and surrounding neighborhoods,” according to a link on the town’s website.

The town has been working with consultants Nelson Nygaard and Dixon Resources Unlimited on the project. Municipal code changes, including meter time limits, meter hours of operation and loading zone metering, and distribution of meter zones, are also under discussion. Future phases of the project include digital online license plate-based parking permits, which would replace the current system using decals and hang tags.

Council members agreed that the proposed times for meters should be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Stockton said she would continue to update the governing body at future meetings on the progress of the parking plan.