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Changes in the Works for Collingswood Parking Kiosks

Dissatisfaction with the current parking vendor has the job out for bid.

You could take their British spellings. You were happy to have the option of paper tickets on the dashboards or punching in your license plate number.

But darn it, Collingswood, you knew deep down that a parking kiosk that takes quarters out of the equation does you no good if it won't—or can't—accept a credit card.

Convenience-based changes to the digital parking kiosks that were rolled out earlier this year probably took for granted that the machines have to function appropriately in order to offer them. Now, it seems, Metric—the company that supplies and services the digital parking kiosks in the borough—is on its way out the door. 

By late November, Collingswood Police Chief Richard Sarlo had met with two new parking kiosk companies to have a demonstration of their products. He told Patch at that time that the process was likely to go to bid soon.

"We’re not satisfied with the [current] company, and we’re looking to replace our current kiosks with different ones," Sarlo said.

"We’re in the investigative stage, and hopefully there will be demonstrations to the mayor and commissioners in the near future."

At the December 2012 meeting of the Collingswood Borough Commissioners, Mayor James Maley described the performance of the current parking kiosks as "horrendous," and said that "they haven't been working the way they should work."

(Check out the product brochure from Metric and see if your user experience compares with the sales pitch—ed.)

Both he and Sarlo spoke on separate occasions of the current parking vendor being unresponsive to complaints about the system malfunctioning.

"We’ve been battling with the company we bought them from," Maley said at the meeting. "A lot of the frustration people have is that they don’t work; the credit cards don’t work."

Without mentioning specific revenue figures, Maley assured residents at that same meeting that the digital kiosks "have paid for themselves," but said their downtime has reached an unacceptable frequency.

The mayor related stories of their failures that could charitably be called a comedy of errors—technicians called in to service a machine that would work just long enough to send them away (only to malfunction again after they left); broken machines just across the street or up the block from working ones. There appeared to be no pattern as to which ones would fail or why.

Maley also heard general concerns about parking in the borough, and explained that Commissioners are trying to create access for shoppers and diners as well as for residents who miss the 15 free minutes that the old coin meters used to offer. 

"Those spaces [on Haddon Avenue] fill up with residents who live a block away parking their cars for the night, or employees filling them up," he said. "We’re probably going to make it so residents can buy permits."

Maley also pointed out that during those times when the parking kiosks have been unresponsive to credit-card requests, the borough has not enforced parking fines. 

"There’s nobody I’ve gotten a complaint from that they’ve gotten a ticket [because] the machine’s not working," he said.

The squeeze hasn't been felt as much in December, when the borough offers free parking for holiday shoppers, but come 2013, residents can likely expect some changes.

Collingswoodnative December 29, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I have a radical idea....what about....FREE PARKING ALL THE TIME!! Limit the time to three hours so the business owners don't take up all the parking near the stores. Believe it or not that was the problem and why the meters were installed in the first place circa 1960. We're trying to bring more people into town and after they finally find a place to park we hit them with problems to park legally.
Shirley December 29, 2012 at 05:53 PM
There was so much confusion when the kiosks were first installed that I decided to forsake them completely and go to Haddonfield. Haddonfield still has meters on the main road; kiosks are for parking lots. When I exit my car I want to go directly to my destination. I don't want to shuttle back and forth between car and kiosk before I can conduct my business. The kiosk confusion has gone on so long that I've gotten out of the habit of thinking of shopping in Collingswood.
Collingswoodnative December 29, 2012 at 06:43 PM
^^^^^Members of the reading audience I rest my case.
Shirley December 29, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I've been in Haddon Heights and Audubon this week. Both towns have free parking on their main roads, Station Ave and Merchant St, and in their public lots. Fewer shops, true, but I made purchases in both towns.
Loretka December 29, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Good for you, Shirley!
Loretka December 29, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Very good, Shirley. Kiosks in Collingswood were a big mistake.
S. J. Guy January 02, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Why pay to park in Collingswood when there are plenty of places to shop and dine elsewhere with free parking? Here's an idea, put up kiosks to charge for parking at the high school sporting events. Just think of the income that would produce! Better yet, $1000 tickets for the illegally parked cars of school staff and students; especially those who use a parent's handicapped tag to park in handicapped restricted parking.

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