Murphy veto keeps ‘smart’ parking meters out of N.J.

Close-up machine for paying parking. Automatic parking system.

(franz12/BigStock)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has vetoed a bill that would have allowed cities and towns to install digital parking meters, which use software to alert parking enforcement of offending drivers.

In his veto message, the Democrat said the so-called “smart” parking meters lead to an increase in tickets, putting a further burden on financially-stressed drivers.

“Because digital parking meters increase the efficiency of parking enforcement, I am concerned that the proliferation of these meters would dramatically increase the number of parking tickets issued across the State, which, in turn, would increase the amount of fines paid by New Jersey residents,” he wrote.

The digital meters know when a driver is in a parking spot, and can alert authorities if their time has elapsed or they owe more money.

Murphy highlighted a 2016 pilot program in Palisades Park, in which the town installed twenty digital parking meters. The meters averaged more than three times as many parking tickets as their analog counterparts.

Yet Brian Cassady, CEO of the private company Municipal Parking Services, said that the public was unaware of the new meters in Palisades Park and unable to adapt to them. Cassady said that once a town switches over to smart meters, drivers realize that they can no longer park without paying what they owe.

“The intent here is to make it very easy for consumers to avoid a ticket by having the system automatically pay for them, by giving them the option of paying with a mobile app, by giving them the option of paying with coins or credit cards, et cetera,” said Cassady, whose company sells digital parking meters.

Still, critics call the upgraded meters a money-making scheme for cities and towns that unjustly targets well-meaning drivers.

“It’s fair for municipalities to want to encourage people to pay for parking and pay their fair share,” said state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “But these systems are designed to make as much money as possible.”

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