Scrambling for loose coins may be alleviated with a new parking meter system expected to be installed in downtown State College this April, Charles DeBow, parking manager of the State College Borough, said.
Six new meters will be installed in the McAllister Deck, the Beaver Avenue Lot, located across from Panera Bread, 148 S. Allen St., and the Allen Street Lot, located across from the State College Borough Municipal Building, 243 S. Allen St.,DeBow said. When a person enters their license plate number into the new parking meters, the amount of time they want to pay for and the option to pay by credit card, coins or cash will pop up, DeBow said.
The meters are expected to be installed with the app running by mid-April, possibly in time for Blue-White Weekend on April 20.. DeBow said this would be a great training period and exposure for the system. With last year’s Blue-White game bringing in an estimated 60,000 fans, these downtown meters could potentially see a lot of traffic.
What makes this system unique is that those who pay by credit card can enter a cell phone number allowing the meter to send a text message when time is almost expired, DeBow. Time can then be extended if the customer replies to the text message for a transaction fee of 35 cents, DeBow said.
The meters will work in connection with the mobile app, us.parkmobile.com, DeBow said. The app will work both in the parking lots and with street meters, DeBow said.
People will pay the 35 cent transaction fee each time to park, but using the meter does not require this fee unless you send a text to extend time.
DeBow said the decision to add the new system is for customer convenience.
“We are at a point in society where people are not carrying around as many coins anymore — it is also hard to pay three dollars in quarters,” DeBow said.
DeBow said the new meters could decrease the number of tickets distributed when meter time expires. On average, about 200 tickets are given out during a home football Saturday game, while on a normal Saturday about 120 tickets are issued, DeBow said.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said she believes the new meters will make everyone a lot happier.
“We are catching up with the rest of the world. I have talked to many students who visited other countries that already have this technology in place,” Goreham said. “This is a good start to modernizing State College.”
In addition, restaurant owner of the Waffle Shop, 364 E. College Ave., Greg Kight thinks the new meters will be beneficial to customers dining downtown.
“With limited parking already downtown, and potentially waiting in line for 35 minutes, I think this could be wonderful for people,” Kight said.
While the ability to extend time to a meter from a phone is convenient, some say they would just return to the meter to add more money.
“I do not think I would pay the transaction fee, I would just know how much time I have in the meter,” Tricia Kazinetz (sophomore-criminology) said. “It is a good idea though, I know sometimes when I park on the street I don’t have quarters.”
Susan Garyantes (sophomore-theatre) parks downtown frequently and is in favor of the new meters.
“I never have quarters, so this is going to be much more convenient for me,” Garyantes said.
One student said that even though she would rather not pay the transaction fee for the mobile app, it would certainly be helpful.
“I think it’s a good idea especially if you’re inside a bar or restaurant and receive a text to remind you time is almost up,” Erin Inglima (senior-forensic science) said. “I would definitely pay through my phone if my car was parked far away,” Inglima said.