City Not The Only Loser in Parking Kiosk Problems

RENO, NV - The idea had a lot going for it.

The city's old familiar parking meters were wearing out after 10 years or so and among the alternatives was a local company with their own version of a concept in use in other cities.

A kiosk serving each block, allowing a motorist to pay with a debit card and even be notified on his smart phone when time was running out.

In addition, the kiosk would also notify authorities of violations. Picking a local company meant local jobs and more revenue for the city.

It was said to be a more efficient, convenient system for the motorist and a revenue winner for the city.

But this was the first one of these systems locals had seen and the first time out for this system. There were bugs and there was confusion.

A year later the company is still chasing problems, the city is getting $300 thousand less in revenue and listening to complaints.

And downtown businesses are concerned.

"It seems like a lot of people are just going to a place that's more accessible like Victorian Square, says Richard Layton who manages the Truckee River Eats 'n Sweets along the river.

Around the corner the owner of Java Jungle and Jungle Vino says business is down about 10 percent this year and although he can't blame all of that on the meters....

"It's not helping, that's for sure," says Matt Polley. "I think the confusion and the lack of properly working machines has had a real impact.

There's some anecdotal evidence to back up that concern. When we posted an item about this story on Facebook, it prompted a flood of comments. A common one was that people were reluctant to come downtown because parking was a hassle and the kiosks had made matters worse.

For its part, the company, Curb Systems, says much of the blame should be placed on the city's unreliable downtown power grid. They say they've spent recent weeks and thousands of dollars addressing that issue and are dismayed by news reports coming out now that don't recognize that fact.

Polley says he applauds the idea of giving the contract to a local company, but worries about the downtown suffering through all the start up problems. He isn't sure about a solution.

"I think they have to look at all their options. I think they ought to consider 2 hour parking for free. That's something to consider, but I think they have to evaluate parking for the whole city, for sure."

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