If you've parked in downtown Syracuse recently, the parking pay station may or may not have accepted your credit card. That's because the company providing the internet service to make the transaction possible has decided to no longer use the modems the city has. But that won't be an issue much longer. As our Katie Gibas reports, Syracuse officials have reached a decision on how to address the problem.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse installed its parking pay stations about 10 years ago. City leaders were told the machines would last 15 to 20 years. But in October, the company that provides the data service to allow credit card payments said they would be switching to new modems at the end of November. That meant the pay stations would no longer be able to process credit card payments.
"Things change very quickly in the parking industry. And some companies are obviously better at it than others and we don't want to be caught with inferior machines," said Pete O'Connor, the Syracuse DPW Commissioner.
That sparked a discussion about whether to replace all the meters, replace the modems or find another provider. The city sought bids from companies for all the options. Replacing all the meters would have cost more than $2 million. The city decided to replace the modems at a fraction of the cost, $67,500.
"It's very important to us because if you look at it, you have to think about the millions in revenues it brings in," said Syracuse Common Councilor Helen Hudson.
Within the next few weeks, city officials will have to replace the modems on all 270 parking pay stations.
"I'm hoping it's only about a 10 to 15 minute in each machine. Obviously, we want to get through there as quick as possible because we don't want to lose any communication," said O'Connor.
Even though the city did reach an agreement to replace all the modems, that doesn't mean this is the end of the conversation. In fact, it's really just the beginning.
"There's a lot of other ways to pay. Right now, there's credit card and coins. With the program that we were attempting to do, it was going to add dollar bills. There's talk of pay by telephone, cell phone. There's all kinds of things, you can pay by license plate programs," said O'Connor.
City officials say the modem upgrade buys them the time needed to figure out a long term solution.
City officials want to remind you that if a pay station isn't working, you should find another machine to pay for parking, so you don't get a ticket. There's also a 1-800 number on the pay stations to report any problems.