When the Bridgeville Parking Authority replaced many of its parking meters with electronic pay stations this fall, some people were hopeful that the devices would solve one of the major headaches that came with parking in town.
No longer would you need to keep loose change on hand to feed meters to the tune of 75 cents per hour. You could just use a credit card. But the pay stations might be creating new problems, according to some residents and business owners who spoke at last week’s borough council meeting.
“This new parking situation we have going on is not working,” said Laura Vertullo, the manager of Armstrong’s Express on Washington Road. “We are going to lose a tremendous amount of business. We already have.”
Some people find the machine’s interface challenging to use because of the LCD screen design and lack of a physical keyboard to input information.
Resident Eric Schmidt says that he has seen people spend upwards of 2 minutes struggling to operate the devices which can require some users to crane their heads to a specific angle to be able to properly enter data.
This leads to long lines at pay stations during busy times of the day. Waiting 5-10 minutes to pay for parking isn’t an appealing option to somebody trying to pick up a lunch order during a 30-minute work break. Nor is the 75-cent minimum payment. Some people using handicapped parking spots have found it cumbersome to park their cars, then find the pay station, then head back to their original destination.
The Parking Authority may add the ability to pay via smartphone app, which would help with logistical problems, especially for people who regularly use the lots.
But can Bridgeville afford to charge for parking when neighboring South Fayette and Collier offer plenty of free parking for business patrons and employees alike?
Mayor Pat DeBlasio thinks that embracing limited, free parking could help Bridgeville compete with surrounding communities.
“Allow customers one hour, two hours, maybe even as many as three or four hours of free parking,” he said, “and place the burden—the cost—on those people who wish to occupy spaces all day… It’s relatively easy to implement and it does not put parking authority in poor financial condition.”
The Bridgeville Parking Authority meets tonight, Monday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the borough building.