September 5, 2018

Concerning Town’s “Use It or Lose It” Smart Card Parking Meter Policy

To the Editors:

Let me get this straight: our town is spending about a million dollars on new parking meters, at around a thousand dollars each, but can’t be bothered to save a few old meters so that it can refund the balances on smart cards? That is literally all it would take – just keep a few of the old meters inside one of the town offices, use them to read balances off the old cards, and then give cardholders back their money. If handling cash is the problem, balances could be transferred to the new online app. I have enjoyed the convenience of my smart card, but it would take a significant lifestyle change to use my balance by the end of the year, especially once it becomes usable in only one place. The “use it or lose it” plan sounds like a policy concocted by airline or insurance executives. I would have expected better from elected officials who are my neighbors, but I guess that was naïve. Nobody likes being swindled, even if the amount is small – the town should change this callous, bad-faith plan or invite a class-action lawsuit whose costs will swamp the modest windfall it seems hoping to pocket from smart cards holders.


Longview Drive

Editor’s Note: Town Topics received the following response after sharing the letter with Mayor Lempert and Princeton Council:
“We recognize that some residents have balances on their Smart Cards that they may not be able to spend down completely before the meters are replaced in October/November. To accommodate these card holders, Smart Cards will still be a valid method of payment at the Spring Street Garage for eight more months, until April 30, 2019. Additionally, we are exploring the feasibility of transferring Smart Card balances onto the new parking app.

“We are switching to new meters as part of Princeton’s effort to make parking in the town work better. These new meters will enable payment by credit card and smartphone as well as coins. Because the old Smart Cards use outdated technology that is no longer supported in the parking industry, they will unfortunately not be compatible with the new system. To avoid any inconvenience going forward, we are encouraging all Smart Card holders to use up the balance on their cards before the meters are replaced in October.”