Parking Change and Pocket Change

The days of fishing for quarters to pay for parking meters are over. At least, for UMBC visitors they are.

Megan Delaney

Contributing Writer

    As of Wednesday, Sept. 10, the new “pay and display” project was installed in the visitor parking lots on the UMBC campus. The parking garages being affected are the Commons Garage, Walker Avenue Garage, Lot 7 and the Administration Garage — the lattermost of which will be completed at the same time as the Gateway Project.

This new technology rids visitors the pain of inserting coins and cranking knobs. Instead, MasterCard and Visa cards as well as dollar bills can be used to pay. This new system is also now accessible to those with disabilities, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Another change is the increased price. The new system charges $2.00 per hour compared to the 25 cents per 15 minutes ($1 per hour) of the crank machines. Although it is an increased price for the UMBC campus, it is still lower compared to University of Maryland, College Park and Towson University’s rates of $3.00 per hour.

Paul Dillon, Deputy Chief of the UMBC Police Department, said, “We found that $2 per hour was on the low end and $3 per hour was on the high end. We chose to be on the low end.”

On the topic of the price change, Sophomore Dana Pirzchalski, biology and INDS major, said, “It’s impractical to pay that much. Over the summer, I used the visitor parking for a lab, and with this new price it would’ve been $10.00 per day for me. With the general financial stance of most students, that is not convenient.”

The new meters also give prepaid codes to visitors before they arrive on campus. Instead of paying, visitors with codes will punch them into the machine and then be given a parking pass for that day. This feature will not be available until the Administration Garage is finished.

There were multiple reasons behind the push for this new system. One was that the crank meters were old and easily broken, and forced someone to collect and count the coins from them. The parts of the crank machines have also stopped being sold, making it even harder to fix broken machines.

Another reason was that, with card use on the rise, it is easier for the school to process transactions. There is also the anticipation that meter violations will decrease now that there are multiple methods of payment.

Dillon said, “These types of (crank) meters are on their way out of the industry, and in the upcoming years you will see them as much as you see a pay phone.”