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Digital meters will soon be the norm on campus for metered parking spaces. The University has begun to install new solar-powered digital meter stations, which accept both coins and credit cards and are tied to pay-by-phone technology.

Metered spaces on ATM Drive and at Student Stores, the Stone Center, Bynum Circle and the Swain Lot have been switched to the new system, with other high-traffic areas of campus scheduled throughout the summer. Eventually, all campus coin-operated meters will move to the system.

Digital meters are widely used in municipal areas, including downtown Chapel Hill, and are becoming common on college campuses nationwide. The switch at Carolina, part of the University’s 2011-16 five-year Transportation and Parking Plan, will allow the Department of Transportation and Parking to assess and use its resources more effectively, said Cheryl Stout, director of transportation and parking.

“The new meters tie into our overall parking data management system and will help us understand which spaces are being used most frequently and the peak times they are used,” she said. “We can understand more about our parking capacity and what we’re likely to need down the road.”

The new meters also provide increased flexibility for campus visitors.


“We have heard from people who visit campus that they want additional payment options,” Stout said. “People don’t carry cash as much as they used to, and these digital meters allow people to submit a secure payment by credit card. Eventually we hope to convert to a credit card-only system.”

The meters also tie to Parkmobile, an app people can use to pay for parking and add extra time without having to return to the pay station. The app allows them to access their transactions online and choose to have their parking receipt emailed to them. To access Parkmobile, users can download the app and create an account with their name, license plate, credit card number and mobile phone number.

With the app, the payment process is straightforward:

  • Enter the zone number listed on the green Parkmobile sign;
  • Scan the QR code in the lower right-hand corner of the sign or the NFC sticker at the bottom of the sign; or
  • Use the GPS functionality; and then
  • Select the desired time and press “start.”

“We think the digital meters are a win-win situation,” Stout said.

To learn more about the features of the digital parking meters and how to use them, visit this link or the Transportation and Parking website.

This story ran in the July 19, 2016 issue of the University Gazette.

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