Whether it’s downtown or on campus, parking meters are dreaded, however, they can be convenient if one does not have a parking permit. Many people use the Pay ’N’ Park meters at UAA for a variety of different reasons. Some students only take one or two classes a semester, so it may seem logical to buy daily passes. There are often visitors that do not attend UAA who rely on the Pay ’N’ Park meters. There have been several complaints about the meters around campus not working or being out of service, which is causing students to be late to classes, study sessions or meetings.
There are 13 Pay’n’Park meters across the UAA campus. They are located at every parking lot across campus from the Arts Building to the Professional Studies Building, including the Alaska Airlines Arena, and all parking garages. Pay’n’Park meters are $2 an hour, $5 for 3 hours and $10 for a full day.
Recently, Frances Seater, an alumni at UAA had an unfortunate experience at the Pay ’N’ Park. Seater was at the parking meter near the library when the machine had shredded her ticket along with another student’s. She waited for parking services to come and reprogram the machine, causing her to miss a scheduled exam study. Because Seater was in a hurry, she asked if herself and the other student could park and head into the building. She was told she would not get a ticket and gave her license plate number to parking services. When she came back, there was a ticket on her dash.
However, this was the second time Seater has had a problem with the Pay ’N’ Park in the month of September alone. The first instance involved Seater and 12 other students at the PSB Pay ’N’ Park. The meter was malfunctioning and caused all of them to be late.
“It’s not okay when more than 12 students are more than 15 minutes late for their classes because of the meters,” Seater said. “I am concerned that so many students are being ticketed in inappropriate ways and they are being made late to class and study sessions.”
Many question why these Pay ’N’ Park meters have so many malfunctions. Students that have had problems with the meter agree that they should be replaced. According to Parking Services Associate Director, Falon Harkins, these meters were replaced in 2013. These meters are fairly new but still have many issues.
“Sure there are issues on occasion. I mean they are a machine housed outside in Alaska, so they are consistently exposed to harsh weather conditions and the natural wear and tear of use,” Harkins said.
Another issue that can cause the Pay ’N’ Park to malfunction is Internet connect. Most know the Internet at UAA is not entirely reliable. Since there are so many people on the network connection, it may cause the Wi-Fi to lag, which can lead interrupted internet connection.
“All of them are dependent on an online connection as well. So, if this is interrupted it can cause the machine to be slow or even be unable to provide certain functions,” Harkins said.
Seater is determined to spread awareness about the Pay ’N’ Park. Seater is one of many that have had problems with these machines and had to pay for unnecessary tickets and lose valuable time.
“If something is happening to me, it’s happening to other people,” Seater said. “I will continue to complain about it until they fix it.”
There have been many instances with Seater alone concerning the Pay ’N’ Park. However, Harkins believes that there are fewer issues than it seems.
“The vast majority of the time the machine will have no issues. We process hundreds of transactions each week and only a small percentage of those have difficulty,” Harkins said.
If there are problems with the Pay ’N’ Park, it is advised to immediately call Parking Services. If there is no time to wait, going to the nearest meter is an option.
“Call it in and depending on how close or far the dispatcher sounds like they are from being able to come to the machine, go to the next closest machine,” Harkins said.
Those options can be inconvenient because of lack of parking spots and time wasted. However, it may be a solution to avoid the wait to reprogram the meter, auditing a ticket and losing valuable time.