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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Parking at UA goes smart

Brandi Walker
Brandi Walker / The Daily Wildcat Park Tucson from the city of Tucson has already installed new smart parking meters along University Blvd. The new meters allow public parkers to pay using credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, or coins. More of these meters will be installed between the UA campus and downtown between now and the installation is projected to be complete by mid-spring.

New smart parking meters that accept credit, debit and smart cards, as well as coins and stored value, have been installed by the city of Tucson near the UA campus and downtown, giving students and Tucsonans more options when it comes to paying for parking.

The IPS Group is the company providing the meters being installed by the city of Tucson. According to the IPS Group, Inc. website, the meters are convenient because they allow the public to pay at their parking location — eliminating the need to locate a kiosk nearby.

“It will be more convenient for people to feed the meters,” said Steve Kozachik, council member of Ward 6. “You don’t have to walk around with a pocket or a purse filled of quarters.”

Kozachik said the new smart meters are similar to the ones that are used on the UA campus already, so students who have used them around campus will know how to operate the new ones.

Ronald Sheck, an urban transportation consultant currently living in Tucson, said he really likes the design concept of the new parking meters.

“[They are] certainly better than the standard, old-fashioned meters,” Sheck said. “Most people don’t keep a lot of change anymore. … Certainly, students have credit cards and smart cards, so it’s going to be a lot easier for them to use it.”

Sheck also noted that the instructions explaining how to use the older meters had worn away over time, and the new installments would help to fix this problem.

According to a news release from the city of Tucson from Dec. 18, the new smart meters can connect wirelessly to a smartphone app. The new app, GoTucson, was branded specifically for its use in Tucson. It is expected that the app will be up and running by the end of 2015.

“It will text you when a few minutes before your meter expires,” Sheck said. “So, you can either run and put more money in it, or use your smartphone to extend your time period within what limits of time are available.”

Kozahik explained that the app will be useful for situations such as office meetings or other commitments during which vehicle owners are not able to run to their cars to refill meters.

On Jan. 5, the meter rate in downtown Tucson increased from 50 cents per hour to $1 per hour. According to a press release from Park Tucson, this is one of the lowest rates in the country.

“I think [raised parking rates] will make it easier to park, because there will be a better turnover for parking spaces,” Sheck said. “It will probably encourage more people to use public transportation, either the busses or streetcar. I noticed that the Park-Tucson strategy is to replace all the meters along the streetcar route first.”

In late January, the installation of more new smart meters will continue into the Fourth Avenue business district. Kozachik said the 1,500 new meters should be completely installed between the UA and downtown by mid-spring.


Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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