Sections of Court Street now feature parking meters that are able to accept credit cards as payment as part of a pilot program.

Ron Lucas, the Athens deputy service-safety director, said the meters are located on the east side of Court Street between Union and Washington streets. They are also located on the west side of Court Street between Washington and State streets.

“The city started exploring the opportunity to launch a pilot of the new smart meters in August of 2017,” Lucas said in an email.

Lucas said there was no charge to install the meters and pay stations for the pilot program. There is no additional fee if one chooses to pay with a card rather than coins.

“There will still be ParkMobile accessibility as a number of people that use parking spaces like using their (smartphones) to pay for parking,” Lucas said in an email. “People will now be able to use a debit card in the meters that we are piloting.”

Ashleigh Johnson, a sophomore studying psychology, said she thinks the meters will be convenient for people coming from out of town.

“I guess it’s both beneficial and also kind of annoying just because it’s another payment you have to do in the Athens area,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely good, I guess, for not getting a ticket if you don’t have change on you.”

Capt. Ralph Harvey of the Athens Police Department said the meters, like other parking payment options such as ParkMobile, will cause some change in the number of parking tickets given, but not significant change.

“While some who would not pay their meters before will pay with a card, most who pay now, paid before so I doubt tickets will be significantly affected,” Harvey said in an email.

Harvey does expect the new meters to be more user-friendly, though he also expects complications to arise. He said he would like citizens to be patient when encountering problems.

“We will know more as the pilot progresses,” Lucas said in an email. “We hope that the meters will provide more options for people to pay for parking and to make parking more accessible to those wanting to park in the uptown area.”

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