Update: As of the Spring 2013, the failed parking paystations have been removed from Central Avenue and traditional meter parking has returned. The only paystations that remain serve the municipal parking lots and those too will soon be removed.
Shopping local is fun, convenient, and should be encouraged by governing agencies. However, the Parking Paystation (kiosk) system on Central Avenue is an unnecessary hurdle between shoppers and local businesses. The parking system’s many flaws undermine local commerce while the old parking meterheads were practical, user-friendly and operate as intended far more regularly. Central Avenue’s residential and business community is trying to get this message across to City officials: the coin-operated meterheads must return and the parking paystations have to go.
The CASID met with the Jersey City Parking Authority on this issue in April 2011 but since then no action has been taken or a meaningful timeline established for the resolution of this problem, implying that the issue has been tabled indefinitely. Before the Parking Authority Commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday September 27th, members of the community held a rally in front of the agency. Just under a month later on October 26, the Jersey Journal reported, “Old parking meters along Central Avenue in Jersey City to return after complaints about newer models.”
Sign the online petition now and let the City of Jersey City know what you think of their Parking Authority! An email will be automatically delivered to City officials every time it is signed. Have something you want to say on this issue? Email a video/ youtube link.
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- Parking Paystation (Kiosk) Blunder on Central Avenue
Parking Paystation (Kiosk) Blunder on Central Ave, Jersey City
Parking Paystations (Kiosks) are designed and sold primarily as MONEY MAKERS for towns and governing agencies. Kiosk vendors (i.e. Metric Group, Parkeon, etc.) use a “More money, More efficiently” tagline combined with “everybody’s doing it” sales pitches to convince town officials that their product is a “must have” for any community.
Although New York City has invested and installed over 6,000 kiosk machines, town officials should thoroughly research their community’s specific parking needs and be aware that parking kiosks are NOT a “one size fits all” solution appropriate for any and every city or town. For a better understanding, just use the inferior Parking Paystation design on Central Avenue. In 2007 a vendor sold Jersey City (through the Jersey City Parking Authority) twenty seven (27) kiosks for approximately $378,000 ($14k each) by emphasizing that these machines would be a MONEY MAKER for the governing agency.
Without consulting or soliciting input from the community, City officials decided to purchase the costly Parking Paystations and experiment in one of the City’s busiest shopping corridors, the Central Avenue main street. Amid rising shopper and visitor complaints since the machines’ installation, the community is demanding that the parking kiosks be replaced with a practical parking meter system. While city officials and the JCPA have shown themselves unaware what is best for the business districts they ostensibly serve, the shoppers and merchants are speaking out unanimously against the parking paystations because it hurts commerce. A signed petition by every available merchant on Central Avenue was submitted to JCPA Commissioners at their regular monthly meeting in September 2011 and not a single merchant on the Avenue has come forward in support of the parking kiosks. While towns and governing agencies are buying into parking kiosks, communities afflicted by these faulty, over regulating machines such as Syracuse and Bayonne are now speaking out as well against parking paystation machines.
Here are some “fun facts” specific to the parking paystations purchased for Jersey City’s Central Avenue business district:
- Pay and display: After multiple changes and attempts to correct design flaws, the system is now “pay and display” meaning a user has to walk to a kiosk, pay for time, walk back to the car and place a receipt on the passenger side dashboard;
- Enter Space Number: To purchase time, you must find and enter your four digit space number into the kiosk.
- Adding Time: Can not do it. Once the time receipt is printed, you can not add more time rather you have to purchase new time which will overlap with the previous receipt. For example, if you are visiting a hair salon (there are 10 on Central), paid for forty minutes at a parking paystation, but then realize the salon is backup you and will probably need closer to 1.5 hours. Your choices are to purchase a new time receipt for the 1.5 hours or, to avoid overlapping receipts, run out after the first receipt expires then purchase more time at the risk of a summons in between.
- Credit Cards: are not now, nor have they ever been, accepted at these paystations.
- Feeding the Machine: Dollar bills and coins are SOMETIMES accepted but “No Change Given” is a guarantee. The coin and cash feeds are temperamental at best and a focal point of user complaints. In November of 2011, 30% of the kiosks on Central Avenue had their cash feeds taped shut (pictured above) because of the malfunction.
- “Please Use Other Machine”: When the parking paystation is low on paper, ink, and/ or battery-power the digital display instructs users to “Please Use Other Machine”, which are often across the street or one block away. Oftentimes, the machines will power down and will be without any directions in the digital display. JCPA officials claim the machines send a message to staff members when maintenance is needed but many machines will be down for an hour or more.
- Getting Old Fast: Comparing the paystations installed in 2007 to the ones existing in 2011 is like comparing a new car to a refurbished used car. In terms of technology, three (3) years is a lifetime and the equipment used in these paystations has deteriorated significantly; for example, the solar powered back-up battery loses its ability to hold a charge after several months and needs regular replacement to otherwise avoid occasional power shut downs that can affect a full block of parking spaces.
- Only business district in Jersey City: Out of ten (10) business districts in Jersey City, you will only find parking paystations in the Central Avenue business district.