Red Bank RiverCenter officials are mulling the purchase of vending machines that dispense debit cards usable in borough parking meters, according to a story in today’s Asbury Park Press.

The so-called smart cards are available for sale at borough hall in $20 increments. But two years after the cards were introduced, there are still no machines selling them, and many shoppers and merchants aren’t familiar with them.

From the story:

The card is like a Metro Card — used aboard New York subways and buses — for parking meters. When inserted into a parking meter, a light on the meter flashes with each 25 cents deducted from the card. Shoppers who return early can reinsert the card in the meter to be credited for time they haven’t used.

Because the technology enables users to get refunds for unused meter time, a motorist with enough credit on the card can overbuy time on arrival and avoid a $38 parking ticket more assuredly than someone paying in advance with coins.

The vending machine is one of several potential uses for $75,000 earmarked for parking improvements in RiverCenter’s proposed 2007 budget of of $604,000. That’s up from the present $434,000, and reflects the recent expansion to part of the West Side of the Special Improvement District that RiverCenter oversees, director Tricia Rumola told redbankgreen recently.

A special levy affecting businesses in the added zone becomes effective in September.

Also under consideration for the $75,000 line item is better signage to and within the borough’s downtown parking lots.

P.S. If you’re interested in where parking meters may be going techwise, take a look at this system, which enables users to avoid tickets by adding funds to a meter by cellphone.

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