Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Electronic parking meters in Syracuse may not be able to take your credit cards soon. On Monday, Common Council voted down a $2.5-million plan to replace them over the next few years.
Armory Square was one of the first places to get pay stations in 2003, which allowed you to pay with your credit card. That’s how 37 percent of people pay today, but the wireless system that approves your card instantly is slated to be phased out by the end of November.
Kyle Robertson works in downtown Syracuse and says she's used to hearing about parking problems.
"They come in and ask for change frequently, which is not that big of a problem, but it is kind of an inconvenience when I'm busy behind the bar and I have to give somebody change for the meter,” she said.
Requests for quarters may grow if wireless technology at the stations is suddenly phased out. To ease sticker shock, the city's DPW commissioner worked out a deal with the current provider to upgrade modems in existing machines, until the entire system is replaced with brand new models over the next three years. Funding for that plan failed by a 5-4 vote in the council.
Coucilor-at-Large Lance Denno says, “Clearly, we don't want to spend $2.5-Million today and find out three years from now that we need to buy knew modems again."
"I really did think it was a no-brainer,” said DPW Commissioner Pete O’Connor said. “At this point I don't have a lot of real positive answers or ideas. I don't mean to sound disappointed, but I am and I am not sure where we are going."
The provider had warned of a wireless shutdown once before in April. Then it was pushed to November. Denno is hoping they'll hold off again. If not, quarters will be required while councilors shop around.
“I'm quite confident that we are going to have a solution in design by then. Whether or not we will actually be able to place it on the street, I can't say,” Denno said.
Whatever the solution, Robertson believes more payment options are better in the long run.
"I've tried using my card before and it hasn't worked 80 percent of the time. So I think it would be a good idea to have dollar bills and that way people don't have to be searching through their console for quarters,” Robertson said.
We could see options for paper bills or even paying with your cell phone if new models are bought. Councilors aren’t convinced that’s necessary yet. Denno has reached out to other communications providers to compare options. He expects to hear back in the next couple of weeks.