Princeton parking card gets extended life until April 2019

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Customers at the municipal parking garage on Spring Street may use the town-issued debit card to pay for parking until April 30, a reversal of an earlier decision that officials made to phase out the card at the end of 2018.

Princeton officials will also look to provide a way for cardholders not to lose their unused balance when the smart card becomes extinct next year. One option would be for the municipality to let cardholders transfer the balance to a mobile app the town is launching. The Princeton council still would need to approve that step, although the town is not providing cardholders a cash refund.

“We don’t have a specific program yet, but we’re going to figure something out,” Mayor Liz Lempert told reporters last week. “We’re going to figure something out that works for the smart card that is fair to the people who own them, that is going to be fiscally responsible for the town and that is going to be something that is logistically going to work.”

“It’s not a complete use it or lose it,” municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton said on Oct. 1. “We would like people to try to use the balance, but we are also trying to be understanding that there may be balances out there that can’t be used within this timeframe.”

This year, Princeton is replacing all of its parking meters with new equipment that will accept payment through credit card, coin and mobile app, but not the smart card. The town has already stopped selling the card or allowing for refills.

Originally, officials were going to phase out the card entirely this year, with Dec. 31 the last day it could be used at the garage. But given the feedback officials received, they reversed course and set April 30 as the new end date.

“I think we want to start the parking program on a good foot, too,” Lempert said. “We are really excited about it. We want the community to be excited about it, too.”