Pay-by-Space machines limit payment options

USF students might not have as much use for that loose change now that Pay-by-Space parking machines, which replaced many of the metered ones on campus, exclusively take credit cards.

Parking and Transportation Services installed new machines in July that only accept Visa or MasterCard and completed the project the second week of August, said Frank Granda, operations manager for Parking and Transportation Services.

Granda said the University made a mandate two years ago to limit the amount of cash collection centers across campus and to have one centralized center in the administration building.

“Part of the reason we installed the machines was to be compliant with that mandate,” Granda said.

The 21 permit machines are located in the Marshall Student Center, Sun Dome and library parking lots and the Collins Boulevard Parking Garage, among other locations, according to the Parking and Transportation Services Web site.

Each visitor parking space has a designated number. After parking, drivers enter their space number into the Pay-by-Space machine and pay with a credit card. The machine prints a receipt with the space number and the time that the permit expires.

The receipt drivers receive from the machine also functions as a bus pass for the Bull Runner for the amount of time that the pass is active, said Robert Jordan, customer service supervisor for Parking and Transportation Services.

If a driver accidentally pays for the wrong space and is issued a citation, the receipt can be presented to Parking and Transportation Services, where it is voided.

Some students, however, aren’t happy that credit cards are the only option.

Mechelle Williams, a senior majoring in education, said she “hates” the new Pay-by-Space parking permit machines.

“I would like it to be my choice if I want to pay with cash or with my (credit) card,” she said. “The old, metered parking was more convenient.”

The machines cost $9,000 each. Granda said they’ve made 38,118 transactions for a total of $124,645.50.

Visitors on campus can purchase two kinds of permits: Pay-by-Space and Pay-and-Display. Pay-by-Space permits come at rates of $1.50 for one hour, $3 for two and $6 for four. Pay-and-Display allows visitors 24-hour parking at $5.

“Even if you pay for the permit at midnight, the Pay-and-Display pass will be valid until 11:59 p.m. that (next) night,” Jordan said.

Pay-by-Space permits do not need to be displayed on the driver’s dashboard, but Pay-and-Display permits do, Granda said.

Inquiries have been made as to why the permit machines do not accept cash, Jordan said.

However, Stephanie Roberts, a senior majoring in communications, said she uses her card more often than cash.

“I like (the machines) a lot better,” Roberts said. “I don’t carry change, so it’s more convenient.”

A purple asterisk on campus parking maps designates where the permit machines are located, Granda said. However, the maps do not differentiate between Pay-by-Space and Pay-and-Display locations, he said.

“Some of the old meters are still in place,” Granda said. “It’s mostly those that do not get a lot of visitor use … where maybe 30-minute parking is needed if someone is stopping by to pick up a ticket to an event.”

Cash parking machines are available near the Fine Arts, Engineering, Behavioral Science and Business Administration buildings, as well as north of Kosove Apartments, the Maple/Holly area and the Cypress Apartments, according to the Parking and Transportation Services Web site.

Though the cash option is still available, Kara Philmore, a senior majoring in mass communications, said she would have liked more notice on the change.

“The first day I came (to school), I didn’t know they had changed (the machines) already,” she said. “Luckily, I had my card.”