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Municipality testing smart card pay parking

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With the current pay parking system, people have to root around for some change, get out of their cars, find a parking ticket dispenser and buy a chunk of time, and then return to their cars to put the ticket in the window. If you’re only going into a store a brief errand, or don’t have any change – most stores are taking debit cards these days – it can be a real hassle.

So can parking tickets.

Recognizing the need for an easier system, the Whistler Bylaw Department is currently testing a smart card system that has been in use in Aspen for years now.

With the system, drivers would be able to either purchase, rent or put a deposit on a timer unit with a smart card reader. When a person finds a parking spot, all they have to do is slide a prepaid smart card into the unit and activate the timer. A green light flashes on the timer indicating that it’s in use, and drivers can either hang the unit from their rear view mirror or place it on the dashboard, and bylaw officers will know not to write a ticket.

When they return to their cars, all they have to do is to turn the unit off, and the amount of money used parking, based on time, will be subtracted from the smart card.

Unlike the ticket system, the smart card can track parking fees down to the penny, and customers will never over- or under-pay for parking time they don’t use.

When a card is depleted, the customer will be able to purchase another one from the municipality or local stores.

"It’s your own personal pay and display machine," explains Marcus Samer, the bylaw officer who is in charge of the pilot project, which will run for the next three to four weeks.

"It’s faster, it’s definitely easier if you’re going in somewhere quickly, like the 7-Eleven or Mail Boxes Etc," said Samer.

The devices are not expensive, and will likely come with some kind of lower parking rate for locals.

"People think that bringing in parking was a cash grab, but we really haven’t been writing more tickets than before. What we do want is to keep people moving in and out of those prime spaces. When you involve money, people are more conscious about where they parked their car and you get more turnover," said Samer.

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