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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Clean up campus: Automated parking meters need paper-free option

    A student parks her car, walks over to the meter and pays for the hour that she’ll be gone. As she completes her transaction, the meter prints out a receipt — but she doesn’t notice. The receipt is spit out of the machine and onto the ground, picked up in the wind and carried away.

    Parking meter receipts have become a new source of litter on campus, gathering in nooks and crannies until Facilities Management employees clean it up.

    When the UA installed automated parking meters in 2011, the coin-free parking option was praised for its accessibility; however, it failed to take into account the amount of waste created by the receipts printed out with every transaction.

    According to UA Parking and Transportation Services, there are 35 automated parking meters on campus that see an average of 1,100 transactions daily.

    On average, that’s about 1,100 receipts a day, 7,700 a week and 401,500 a year.

    That’s a lot of paper.

    The problem is, most people who pay directly at the pay station leave their receipt or don’t wait to get it after it prints. There is no option to decline the receipt.

    Automated parking meters should make this option available, like gas station pumps do. There could even be an alternative to receive the receipt via text message or email, as seen in many coffee shops. Bill Davidson, PTS public information and marketing manager, said the entire process could be electronic, it’s just a matter getting it set up.

    The technology is already there, as seen in the PayByPhone app, which was brought to campus through PTS’s partnership with Verrus. The app allows students to renew or pay for their meter space simply by registering their cell phone with the service.

    Currently, if someone makes a transcation through a PayByPhone, no receipt is printed. Instead they receive an e-mail receipt for their parking session that serves as both a personal receipt for payment and proof that they paid for parking, according to Davidson.

    However, this option is only available if you register through the online service and complete your transactions either online or via smartphone.

    Although smartphones seem to be everywhere, there are still plenty of students who do not have them. Instead of requiring users to have expensive technology to cut down on waste, the pay stations themselves should already have paperless options in place.

    Not only would it be easier for individuals to keep track of their receipts, it would also be cost-efficient and reduce the amount of paper consumption and litter on campus.

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 71 million tons of paper and paperboard are used in the U.S. each year, and the American Forest and Paper Association stated that only 65.1 percent of this paper was recycled in 2012. While eliminiating parking receipts may seem minimal, even minor changes that benefit the environment can make a significant difference over time.

    Eliminating one source of litter on campus by updating the technological capabilities of the automated parking meters would take little time, resources and energy. These wasteful paper receipts are cluttering up our campus, not to mention our environment, and the solution is completely within reach. Until more electronic options are provided on, the meters won’t reach their maximum potential.

    —Razanne Chatila is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @Razanne92.

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