Fickle parking meters pose an issue for credit card users

It’s 9:05 a.m. and you’re late for class. You hunt for a parking spot, often fighting via turn signal against other drivers, and when you finally find a spot, you pounce. Maybe you jog to the machine and wait in line.

Niles Hachmeister pays for parking on a cold Wednesday morning. While this machine worked for him, many other machines have not been working for other students, causing frustration.
Niles Hachmeister pays for parking on a cold Wednesday morning. While this machine worked for him, many other machines have not been working for other students, causing frustration.

Your credit card slides in and you impatiently punch the buttons to buy the right amount of time. Card declined. So you choose another card — debit this time. Card declined.

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In the early morning rush to classes, parking can be the biggest problem you face.

“We’re really limited on parking especially with construction,” said undeclared sophomore Brooke Hayward. “What they really need to do is work on getting our parking problems fixed.”

A meter can be your best friend or worst enemy during your rush to class, depending on the time of day at CSU. Every day, many students drive to classes and pay to park in one of the various lots on campus. Most days, the system works. On the days it doesn’t, you may return to a parking ticket.

For Allison Wick, a masters student graduating this May, problems with the Pay-to-Park meters are a recurring and frustrating start to the day.

“Sometimes (the machines) accept one card and decline the other, sometimes they decline both credit and debit cards,” Wick said. “I’ll be struggling and have to give up because I’m in a rush.”

Although Parking Services ensures its machines are fully functional on a daily basis, just one bad morning can lead to a parking ticket.

According to Dave Bradford, director of Parking and Transportation Services at CSU, each machine is checked during a software report every morning before 7 a.m. The report lets Parking Services know if the machine is functional and ready to spit out parking passes.

Additionally, machines are given preventative maintenance on a weekly basis to prevent breakdowns and technical problems.

In the event of a breakdown or malfunction, these “smart meters” can actually send the maintenance staff a text message if they aren’t working properly, Bradford said. If a credit or debit card is declined, however, it is not considered an error.

“We have redundancy built into the system because most lots that have pay stations have multiple pay stations, so if one isn’t working there is another machine available to use,” Bradford wrote in an email to the Collegian.

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Wick has used the system when one machine doesn’t accept her cards. In lots such as the Morgan Library parking lot and the spaces next to the Lory Student Center, it’s simple to pick another machine.

“At least one will work for me usually,” Wick said.

Oftentimes, the issue is with the card itself rather than the machine, Bradford said.

“Part of the problem is habit. I need to carry cash, but it’s frustrating to deal with sometimes,” Wick said.

Collegian Writer Mariah Wenzel can be reached at letters@collegian.com.