Parking card program underway in Truckee |

Parking card program underway in Truckee

Christine Stanley/Sierra SunThe new Smart Card is offered to those who frequent Commercial Row. Available at no charge from local merchants, the card works like a debit card in the parking meters and saves users 15 percent on the cost of parking.

There are new options in downtown Truckee that might alleviate some of the tension left in the wake of paid parking.

The Smart Card, which is similar to a debit card, is now be carried by a number of downtown merchants. The card can be pre-paid with up to $100, said town Parking Services Coordinator Kelly Beede, and can be used to pay for parking or purchases in participating stores.

The cards have been in stores for nearly three weeks now, but Sandy O’Connor, owner of Molly’s Cupboard on Commercial Row, said she has yet to give one out, noting that publicity for the card has been minimal and that even she feels a little out of the loop. Dragonfly and the White Buffalo have also not had any inquiries about the card, according to their staff.

“If they want to keep shopping down here, getting discounts on their parking and discounts on their shopping, then I think it will be good for locals,” O’Connor said.

Computer chips have been installed in the downtown parking meters to read the Smart Cards when scanned, Beede said. Consumers who use the card system will receive a 15 percent discount on downtown parking meter fees, and the parking meters will keep track of the card’s balance.

Participating merchants can also offer promotional programs, product discounts, or other perks to Smart Card holders, though few, if any, of the current participating stores have pinned down a plan, store workers said.

Meanwhile, the parking commission is already preparing for a second pre-paid parking option.

In late September, the town is planning to introduce in-car meters that can be loaded with up to $200 of pre-paid time and will provide for a 25 percent parking discount, Beede said.

Meter owners will turn on the meter when they park, and will turn the meter off when they leave. The meter will count down automatically.

The town council has already approved the device, but it has not been determined whether the estimated $50 one-time cost to consumers will change, Beede said.

People can get Smart Cards by visiting participating merchants. Businesses will issue and load the cards with funds by accepting cash, credit, or debit cards with a minimum purchase starting at $10 up to a $100 limit. At this time, participating merchants include:

– The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce

– Squeeze In

– Molly’s Cupboard

– The White Buffalo

– Dragonfly

– Gratitudes

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