Kiosks get good grade

07 25 Weirs parking kiosk

Connor Jednak figures out how to use a parking kiosk at Weirs Beach earlier this summer. (File photo)

Glitches aside, officials say Weirs parking system is working well


LACONIA — Computerized, solar-powered parking pay stations at The Weirs have had a few glitches since they went online on June 21, but city officials are pleased overall with their performance.

Also, the city seems to be taking in more money at the 15 parking kiosks than it did with the 200 meters that were replaced. The kiosks take credit cards and coins.

Laconia Public Works Director Wes Anderson said that on one day none of the new pay stations would take credit cards. The problem was not with the stations themselves but with the company handling credit card transactions.

Another day, a pay station near the M/S Mount Washington excursion ship had a malfunctioning card reader and would not take credit cards. Another pay station nearby stopped taking change.

“Glitches are more or less expected when you start a new process, but we have been working through it,” Anderson said.

He said the system has been trouble free for at least 10 days, with the exception of one machine that is operating well for users, but isn't generating proper financial reports for the city.

Early indications are that city revenue from kiosks is above that seen with parking meters. Parking fees along Lakeside Avenue are $1 an hour, double what the meters used to cost.

Credit cards also make it easier for people to pay for parking in full as opposed to the old coin-operated system in which people without a pocket full of change may have been able to pay for only a portion of their parking costs.

Anderson said police were notified when the system was having problems to make sure nobody got parking tickets during periods of malfunction.

In a letter to the editor, S.W. Bailey of Bow complained that a parking kiosk wouldn't take her credit card and that she had to retrieve laundry quarters from her vehicle to cover the cost of parking before she boarded the M/S Washington.

Also, Bailey did not realize initially that it is necessary to know the parking spot number when payment is made. Officers can tell through a computer application whether a car is in violation.

This procedure is different from that used in some other cities, including Concord, where kiosks issue a proof of payment that's placed in the vehicle where it can be seen by a parking attendant.

“Much as we may not like to pay for parking, that is what helps to maintain certain aspects of the city right of way,” Bailey said. “But Laconia, come on now, take a page from others who have instituted this kiosk thing; Dover, Concord, etc.”

Bailey said that if visitors are not happy with the system and if it's too difficult to operate, they may not return.

“I would be surprised if the cruise company has not poked the city on this to get them to correct the situation as they will lose money otherwise as will the city,” Bailey said.

Actually, Capt. Jim Morash of the M/S Mount Washington said that despite the early glitches and a little confusion over the system, the parking kiosks have performed admirably and that the city has been proactive in dealing with problems or concerns.

“I think all in all, they are working well,” Morash said. “Like anything new, the city is experiencing growing pains as they try to get things adjusted.”