Smart cards now accepted at more meters around campus.


Photo Illustration: Megan Wolff/Iowa State Daily

ISU Parking Division has begun putting new modules into parking meters that accept a pre-paid smart card. So far, 85 modules have been ordered, and the parking division hopes to have 245 parking meters that are smart card friendly within six months. 

Madison Martin

Quarters, dimes and nickels are on the way out of students’ pockets when it comes to campus parking, said Parking Division Manager Mark Miller.

ISU Parking Division has started putting new modules in existing parking meters around campus that accept a pre-paid smart card. 

An initial order of 85 modules were installed in meters out of 245 meters on campus. Parking division plans to have all 245 meters smart card friendly within six months. 

Smart cards were previously only accepted in pre-paid lots 21 and 100 and the East Campus parking deck.

Miller said the upgrade is all about “convenience.” 

“Smart cards have a consumer-friendly convenience factor,” Miller said. “Not only will students no longer have to carry around quarters if they choose to get a smart card, [but] our staff will not have to pick up and transport so many heavy bags of coin.”

Spencer Williams, freshman in agronomy, was unaware of the existence of smart cards but agrees that they could be appealing to students.

“I think that students who regularly park in the prepaid lots probably have a collection of coins in their car just because they know they will need them. The smart cards would especially help students who don’t necessarily think about it every day,” Williams said. “However, the smart cards would be way more convenient than having to carry change all the time, especially since you control how much you have on the card, and you wouldn’t have to scrounge for the change.”

Students can pick up a smart card at the parking division office located in the Armory. There is an initial charge of $5 for the physical card, but there will be no fee to reload funds on your account.

“Students can reload their card using cash, check, credit card or on their U-bill. The initial $5 charge can be put on the student’s U-bill as well,” Miller said.

Smart cards that are lost and stolen can be replaced for the same $5 fee. 

Time limits still remain and are enforced around campus. They are the same limits whether coin or a smart card is used. Time limits are listed on each meter or on signs located at pre-paid lots. 

With the new smart card meters, if a student walks up to pay for a meter that still has 38 minutes on it, they can put their smart card in and it will round up to the next hour, only taking the amount it needs to make the time difference. If a student were using coin, they would have to put a quarter in to get that hour, essentially paying 25 cents for 22 minutes instead of 30.

The new modules only accept smart cards and coin. Students cannot put their student ID or credit card in the slot. 

“Currently, the parking meters run on a different operating system than student ID cards, making them incompatible with each other,” Miller said.

Miller does not see an upgrade for the additional use of credit cards in the near future.

“[ISU Parking] has no plans to switch over to credit card modules at this time. With the fees associated with that type of service, we would have to raise our parking rates, which we do not plan on doing soon,” Miller said.

Williams thinks smart cards will save time for students.

“Personally, I would much rather pay with a smart card than change. I never have change in my car, and if I do, it’s always just the pennies I don’t want to keep,” Williams said. “I feel like most other students would rather pay with the smart cards as well. You wouldn’t have to worry if you had it or not.”