Published On: Mon, Jan 8th, 2018

New Hope’s New Parking System Draws Fire

New Hope’s new electronic parking system is drawing heat from shop and restaurant owners in town who say their customers are confused and complaining. And they fear even more negative reaction from visitors down the road during the warmer and busier season.

Parking meters, the traditional nemesis of New Hope visitors, were finally eliminated on Dec. 15, 2017, and in their place on Jan. 2 were 22 new “multi-space, pay-by-plate” electronic kiosks dispersed throughout the borough.

The new kiosks cost $7,400 each, bringing the total cost for the devices to over $163,000.

The borough is taking on the expense because it believes the system will allow them to better manage parking, including the ability to vary pricing in the future by zone for more control over usage patterns at peak hours and to generate additional revenue.

“We wanted to make parking as easy as possible so that people can come and just have fun,” explained New Hope Borough Council Member Laurie McHugh in a December interview.

Once one has parked, one can simply walk up to the nearest kiosk, and enter the license plate number of the vehicle, then pay for the amount of time desired with coins, bills or credit cards.

But motorists need to remember their license plate number on their way to the kiosk, if it’s not already memorized. That’s a problem for some, but one that was anticipated.

What may not have been anticipated was the extent of the confusion on the part of many visitors, who park their vehicle, exit, and stare blankly about looking for parking meters that are no longer there. Signs telling them to look for kiosks are small and posted at waist height on sawed-off meter poles, although larger signage is reportedly on the way. Worse yet, kiosks are neither numerous nor readily visible, say members of New Hope’s business community.

A dearth of kiosks on Waterloo Street.

“We local businesses did not have any say in the decision on these kiosks,” observed Greg Gauthier, owner of the Village Toy Shoppe at 19 N. Main St. “Personally I thought Mayor Keller’s concerns were very appropriate, and the fact that the [borough council] vote was 4 to 3 would tell me that maybe the decision should not have been rushed. I would like to hear the rationale from counsel members Kingsley, Gering and McHugh and also about how involved they have been in the implementation process.”

New Hope Mayor Keller holds a voting seat on New Hope’s borough council, and was critical of the cost of the kiosk plan as it emerged.

“I hate to be ‘Debbie Downer’ here, but I have a lot of questions that aren’t answered yet,” said Keller at a Feb 21, 2017 council meeting, where he questioned whether visitors might falsely believe their purchased kiosk time would be redeemable at New Hope’s numerous private lots.

“You have the ability to pay for six hours, and I could be on South Main for two hours, and decide to drive over to Triumph Brewery in George Michael’s Union Square, because I’ve still got four hours left. Who pays George Michael?”

“It’s a totally different system, so once they go into to his private parking lot, they’re obligated to pay whatever he has there,” explained Council Member Connie Gering. “We’ll need to educate them.”

Gering is vice president of council, and along with Alison Kingsley and Laurie McHugh, spearheaded the development and implementation of the new parking system.

Out on the streets of New Hope, some business folks are saying that education was inadequate, as is signage explaining the change and how to use the new system and locate kiosks.

Police seem to be trying to be flexible.

“How unbelievably disappointing,” said one shop owner of the kiosks on social media. “Two customers came in with tickets on their cars. No signs saying ‘go pay at the kiosk.’ Perhaps a slow roll out with notices on cars would have been a good way to go and signs notifying people. When will signs go up to notify people to walk to the end of Main Street to find a kiosk? Will there be more kiosks?”

Several business owners wondered why kiosks weren’t more plentiful and visible, noting that much of the length of busy South Main Street seems devoid of the machines, and important parking areas like Waterloo Street have none at all. Others believe the devices should be made more visible by adding flags or lights.

“I haven’t heard much griping from customers,” said one North Main Street business owner. “That’s because there haven’t been any customers lately.”

“I was able to locate a machine quickly,” said one visitor Monday who had just parked his car. “But I only wanted one hour of time, and the kiosk wouldn’t give me change — it just gave me extra time. Also, the touch screen wasn’t responsive.”

“As with any change, it takes time,” said New Hope Chamber of Commerce President Gregg Zollo. “We’ll be canvassing businesses to assess the impact if any and listen to their concerns.”

Borough spokespeople were not immediately available.

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Displaying 18 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. jalaspen@verizon.net' Jal says:

    Used the same parking system in Philly. Didn’t know if you extend beyond max the first time, the rate doubles. If you extend beyond the max a third time the rate triples. So I paid 15.50 for 2 hours; total 6 hours was 32.20. Never explained. Lack of Transparency. Can’t find an explanation of how extending beyond the max is charged in New Hope. Also,different operators have different charging schedules and policies. And it is not published. Sound complicated? It could be.

  2. bconklin@hotmail.com' Bill says:

    Signage is terrible. A an out-of-towner coming in on Sunday, I had no idea that parking wasn’t free on a Sunday. We had a ticket on our car in less than ten minutes. Enjoy my $20 fine. I’m not coming back.

  3. Ronbiggs66@aol.com' Ron Biggs says:

    I’m not going back. Not a complainer, but spent $72 on 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks, And get fined over having 2 tires(motorcycle) sitting on asphalt that’s been there forever. Hey, why not charge for driving by? There are lines that designate “spots” These indicate a given space to be charged. This space was paid for by another motorcyclist. How many times can you pay for a space in a given hour? I was there 2 weeks ago. Saw nothing about this pay for plate until a block down. Because of geed the township is taking away money from seasonal businesses. Less tips for the help etc. Any idea what the taxes are in New Hope?? Who’s pocketing this? It’s like the “enforcement cameras”. Most of the extorted money goes to the corporations that run the cameras!!Not helping with taxes at all! New Hope is sliding downhill unfortunately .

  4. Using the parking kiosks in the town I live in gives me the feeling that I am a stranger in the place I call home. I live just a bit too far to walk into the shopping area, carrying shopping bags is just too much for me. And when I do errands around the vicinity, stopping into town, the kiosks just feel too urban…oddly I prefer the parking meters for my quick shopping trips-I know what I want and where to get it…

  5. origin11@comcast.net' JaneAdele says:

    As with any new system, there will be a learning curve and adjustment period for those using the kiosks.

    Perhaps those with complaints or concerns should send an email to the Boro Council officials, so they know the specific “wrinkles” that people are experiencing.

  6. davidfordcooper@gmail.com' Dave says:

    I don’t have an issue with the physical system, however the key statement in this article is “including the ability to vary pricing in the future by zone for more control over usage patterns at peak hours and to generate additional revenue.” This is not a good thing. Locals can expect to pay different prices for the same spot depending on time of day or day of week. I imagine it will be through the roof for an evening out in town. A spot is a spot and should be treated as such. One price regardless of location, day, or time.

    Additionally since the new system is automated and in theory should require less human interaction and mechanical upkeep will parking enforcement reduce head count? Will the lower cost of operation reduce the cost of parking? My guess would be no and no.

    • marscav@gmail.com' M_go says:

      Great point, Dave. This makes parking a commodity. What is the impact on local business owners who depend on predictable and reasonable parking rates for their businesses to attract customers? The supply and demand model work for some industries, but for parking not so much. It will just piss people off.

  7. Used the kiosks a few times now. It’s totally fine, works great.

    The dinosaurs that are having such a hard time with this are the same people that whined when pay phones started disappearing.

    Coin fed parking meters were cutting edge tech in the late 1930’s…time to move on. If you can’t figure out a modern kiosk, maybe it’s not the kiosk – maybe it’s you.

    • mayerkkj@msn.com' Jeff Mayer says:

      You rebutted your own comment…
      Your comparing apples and oranges
      Your comparing apples and oranges..Coin op parking meters have been around for almost 90 years because THEY MAKE SENSE !..
      Pay phones are gone because they are no longer practical with the advent of the cell phone.
      This Kiosk nonsense is nothing but a money maker for the township and a monumental screwing over of motorcyclists who patronize the stores everyday..especially on the weekends..IF the muckety mucks who run this township would decide to charge the motorcycle owner HALF….then that would quell the uprising..I understand ABATE was in already ..one motorcycle, one space…Why repeat past mistakes…

  8. warrenkharrison@gmail.com' Keith says:

    I used a kiosk two days ago. No problems at all. Seems like there’s much ado about nothing here. It’s not that big of a deal, folks.

    • mayerkkj@msn.com' Jeff Mayer says:

      If you own a motorcycle, it is a big deal..I don’t particularly care for the TWP having the ability to change the hourly rate at a whim…I mean you ride up there one nice day, and the TWP raises the rate by a buck.I would like to know their intentions here. Are the folks who patronize the shops is for a surprise when they go up to park.what happens to the private lots who have weekend parking..they going to charge more…Why stir up a hornets nest..maybe they should have cogitated on this for a while…and made sure before implementing w/o laying it all out for the public first !

  9. gmonigan@hotmail.com' Gerry says:

    The mayor does not hold a “voting seat” on the council, except to break a tie when only six members are present.

  10. Donaldtripp@yahoo.com' Don Tripp says:

    Sad but not surprising to see the negative comments so typical of many New Hope and Lambertville residents regarding any type of change, however innovative.

    I guess these people have never parked a car in Philadelphia, New York City, or even on the Jersey Shore recently.

  11. jcrilley3@comcast.net' JoeSchmoe says:

    I used the new kiosks the other day and it was fine. Easy to use. Come on people, this is how most towns regulate their parking. Not that difficult.

  12. Susanshaffer@comcast.net' Sue says:

    I parked directly in front of a kiosk today around noon, climbed over the snow bank, only to find the kiosk was “out of order”! Yep,, out of order already. The screen told me to find another kiosk. Really? Good job!

  13. cloffer2007@yahoo.com' Maureen says:

    I went to Frans this evening and used the Kiosk right in front of the restaurant. I entered my license plate number in a note on my phone for quick reference and the kiosk was simple and fast to use! I no longer have to run back to feed a prehistoric meter. I’ve used the Parkmobile app in other towns and am happy to see I will be able to use it in New Hope now!

  14. Mikelambnj@aol.com' Mike says:

    The new system SUCKS! I live In New Hope and I experienced all of the frustrations expressed in this article. This past Sunday I parked on Main St and saw no visible kiosk. Once I found one, it was too sunny to visibly read what the counter-intuitive screen was instructing me to do. Ridiculous! The three members who voted for this should be ousted. This is really bad! One more black mark against New Hope.

  15. ‘ve been using Parkmobile for quite some time and I hear that the Khios take that, so I think it’s great! Anything you normally use will work in these kiosks. It will just take a little bit of time for people to get used to it.

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