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Change is coming for parking on-campus and downtown. Recent rumors of Cal Poly charging for weekend parking on-campus have been circulating.
So far, the idea is still just talk.
“To be honest, the weekend idea is nothing more than internal discussion right now,” University Police Department associate director Cindy Campbell said. “If that were to become a serious discussion, it is something that we would be obviously presenting to senior staff and management of the university, as well as involving ASI (Associated Students, Inc.) in those discussions.”
The idea of smart parking meters has moved past discussion; Campbell said the university is looking into purchasing meters that accept credit cards. She met with vendors this week to look at the options.
Campbell said one meter option they may consider is “pay by phone.” This type of meter allows customers to use their phone to pay for parking with their credit card and receive a text message when their meter time is about to expire.
With 250 meters on campus and each smart meter costing $500, it is likely the transition to credit card meters will be slow, with new meters being placed in more popular parking areas first.
Campbell said the university has been monitoring the success of smart meters downtown before deciding to replace coin-operated meters with those that take credit cards.
“And the feedback’s been really tremendous,” Campbell said. “Not many people carry around a pocketful of quarters, so it’s one of the options that we hope to give our customers very soon.”
Downtown San Luis Obispo began using credit card meters two years ago, and has seen an increase in customers paying by credit card when staying in a spot for an extended period of time.
“Typically what we’re seeing in the trend is that if someone is going to stay for a smaller amount of time they’re more willing to drop coins in, but if they’re going to stay for the two-hour limit of the meter, they’re more apt to pay with their credit card,” City Parking Services manager Robert Horch said.
While meters downtown are already accepting credit cards, parking structures are now looking into the possibility of accepting cards, too.
Horch said the first step is upgrading the operating systems in two of the parking structures that currently use analog clocks for their ticket spitters. After this and a software upgrade are completed, the city can move forward with installing the card readers.
“We have to pay bank fees and higher fees to accept the credit cards, so we may have to look at rates in the structures but we’re not there yet,” Horch said. “It does cost us more, but I think it provides a better service.”
Horch said the city wants to eventually look at using apps to show in real time where available parking is throughout the city.
“That’s the hope,” Horch said. “I mean, the technology is great and we want to be moving in that direction to provide a better service for people parking downtown.”