ITHACA, NY – The city of Ithaca plans to put in place an alternative method for residents to pay for parking after receiving numerous complaints and suggestions from senior and disability advocacy groups.
The most popular methods to pay for parking in Ithaca are by either digital pay stations or pay-by-cell. The city council stepped up its efforts last summer to reduce the presence of digital pay stations in the area and increase the use of the modern pay-by-cell method.
The majority of pay-by-cell kiosks are owned by Park Mobile and were installed last summer with a goal of increasing compliance and streamlining the parking process as well as modernizing the pay-for-parking system.
According to Frank Nagy, the Director of Parking at the City of Ithaca, 37% of the revenues that the city took from parking in March came from Park Mobile. Ithaca ha
d $51,000 in revenues from parking in the month of March, in which $19,000 comes from Park Mobile kiosks.
Despite the impact that pay-by-cell has had on the parking situation in Ithaca since last summer, the payment method has not been a revelation for some demographic groups such as the elderly and people with a disability population.
“The Park Mobile kiosks have been a major hit since replacing the old–since 1940’s–digital pay stations,” Nagy said “But I do understand that it’s not convenient for everyone and that it may be ‘too modern’ for some.”
Pay-by-cell has offered a new and fresher approach to the parking business but “we shouldn’t get carried away with it because it’s modern and relatively new. We mustn’t forget that parking should be convenient for everyone, whatever system we use” according to Nagy.
He admits that he made a mistake by thinking that pay-by-phone would be practical for everyone because of its nonchalance to use.
“I thought it was so easy to use,” Nagy said. “For me it’s great, but the simplicity isn’t appealing for some. To this day there are people who don’t or still can’t afford a cell phone. Others don’t understand the concept of the system because of their age. Parking is for everyone and the basic, old fashion payment can be easier for some, hence we will also adopt the scratch-off cards system as well”.
The scratch-off cards system offers a solution for the elderly and for people with disabilities as “you won’t have to walk to the pay machine, you don’t have to get out of your car. You can just pull out the card, scratch it off, place it on your dashboard and you’re good to go,” according to Nagy.
Scratch-off cards can be found for purchase at the same locations city trash tags are sold, including grocery stores, Agway Ithaca and the city chamberlain’s office located at Ithaca City Hall. The cards will be sold in a variety of time values starting from 15 minutes — for 38 cents each — to a $12 card valid for eight hours of parking time.
On Monday March 18th, the Board of Public Works has approved a 2-year pilot program to test the scratch-off card system and will begin distribution by June 1.